By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.
ONE FEATHER STAFF
Georgia State University will soon return 23 sets of human remains to four separate tribes in a multi-tribal repatriation effort. The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, the Cherokee Nation (Okla.), the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians (Okla.), and the Muscogee (Creek) Nation (Okla.) are all involved in the effort to repatriate and rebury the remains which were removed in the 1970s from several locations.
According to Miranda Panther, EBCI NAGPRA Officer, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians will be involved in 17 of the reburials. “Six of the individuals are from McIntosh County, Ga. which is outside of the traditional Cherokee aboriginal territory. The Muscogee (Creek) Nation will be reburying these remains.”
The three federally-recognized Cherokee tribes will all be co-lead on a reburial of eight individuals from site 40GN9 in Greene County, Tenn. related Panther. “The nine sets of remains removed from an unknown site in Georgia will be reburied by the three federally-recognized Cherokee tribes and the Muscogee (Creek) Nation. A lead tribe has not been selected for this reburial.”
According to information from the Federal Register, the nine individuals were removed from an unknown site in eastern Georgia between 1970-75.
The eight individuals were removed from Greene County, Tenn. between 1970-80. “Geographic evidence suggests these human remains to be Cherokee and likely form the town of Canasoga or Canasahaqui,” the Federal Register states.
The other six individuals were removed from the Altamaha River basin in McIntosh County, Ga. in March 1971.
On the reburials themselves, Panther commented, “In accordance with our Treatment Guidelines for Human Remains and Funerary Objects, created from input and guidance from our elders, these individuals will be reburied as close as possible to their original burial location. There are no associated funerary objects present with any of the human remains.”
She said planning has commenced for the repatriation and subsequent reburials. “After the required 30-day waiting period is complete following the notice publication (published June 28), we will all move forward in securing appropriate and protected reburial locations. We hope to have the two reburials that we are involved with completed within the next 6-12 months.”
Panther praised the working relationships of the tribes with the university. “The EBCI THPO has not worked with Georgia State University prior to this NAGPRA project, but they have been professional, respectful, and thorough. We look forward to working with them again in the future.”