By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.
ONE FEATHER STAFF
Two sets of historical Cherokee remains will be put back to rest as a result of a recent repatriation effort by the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. The remains are being repatriated after being found many years ago by the Tennesssee Valley Authority (TVA).
“This particular repatriation includes two historic Cherokee individuals,” said Miranda Panther, EBCI NAGPRA officer in the Tribal Historic Preservation Office. “One individual was discovered and subsequently removed from the historic Cherokee Overhill town of Toqua in modern-day Monroe County, Tenn. in 1976. The other individual was found in 1967 and removed from the Citico site, which is also in modern-day Monroe County.”
Panther related the remains were originally found “during the course of archaeological field excavations conducted as part of the construction of the TVA’s Tellico Reservoir.”
She stated that a reburial location has not been finalized. “In accordance with the EBCI Treatment Guidelines for Human Remains, it is the preference of this office that remains be reburied as close to the original resting place as possible, or, barring that, within line of site. Our goal is to adhere to these guidelines as well as provide adequate safety and protection for the remains in an effort to deter looting.”
Russell Townsend, EBCI tribal historic preservation officer, said the Tribe has been working with the TVA on various issues for ten years. “There have been a number of previous repatriations from TVA to us in the past. We have reburied all human remains and funerary objects we received, most at the Sequoyah Birthplace Museum reburial facility, but some at other locations closer to the materials’ point of origin.”
Townsend said the remains in this recent case have actually been repatriated jointly to the EBCI, the Cherokee Nation and the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians – the three federally-recognized tribes of Cherokees. The EBCI took the lead on the project.
Panther stated the repatriation is tentatively set to be complete by early spring of 2012.
Information from the Department of Interior states that TVA officials, along with McClung Museum professional staff and representatives from seven historical southeastern tribes, including the three Cherokee tribes, made “a detailed assessment of the human remains”.
The DOI states that both sets of remains were curated at the McClung Museum at the University of Tennessee – Knoxville. No funerary objects were with the remains found in 1976 at the Toqua site, but “white, tubular glass beads” were found with the remains at the Citico site but are now missing.
The consultation period on the repatriation is set to end on Dec. 29 and if no further claims are made, the repatriation will go forward.