By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.
ONE FEATHER STAFF
Remains of 15 individuals that are possibly more than one thousand years old were inadvertently found by spelunkers this spring in a cave in Tennessee. Now, EBCI officials are working to ensure those remains are properly taken care of and reburied.
The remains were found in the Norris Reservoir Area in Claiborne County, Tenn.
“The remains were inadvertently discovered on TVA property and thus are subject to NAGPRA,” said Miranda Panther, EBCI NAGPRA officer. “As a federally recognized tribe that aboriginally occupied the east Tennessee area, including Claiborne County, we participated in a consultation with other tribes and TVA to determine the disposition of the human remains.”
Panther said the remains, which date to the Mississippian Period (roughly AD 1050 to 1150), have been determined to be “culturally affiliated as Cherokee.”
She further stated, “The human remains will be jointly repatriated to the Cherokee Nation, the EBCI, and the United Keetoowah Band. The three Cherokee tribes in consultation with TVA have not decided on a reburial location yet. Security is a major factor in determining an appropriate reburial location.”
According to TVA, “A detailed assessment of the human remains was made by TVA officials in consultation with representatives of the Absentee Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma, Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas, Alabama-Quassarte Tribal Town, Cherokee Nation, Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, Eastern Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma, Kialegee Tribal Town, Muscogee (Creek) Nation of Oklahoma, Poarch Band of Creek Indians, Seminole Nation of Oklahoma, Seminole Tribe of Florida, Shawnee Tribe, The Chickasaw Nation, Thlopthlocco Tribal Town, and the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians in Oklahoma.”
TVA officials related they plan to transfer the remains to the three federally recognized Cherokee tribes after Sept. 27 providing there are no further claimants.