EVANSVILLE, Ind. (AP) — The remains of more than 700 Native Americans have been returned to burial grounds in southwestern Indiana.
Indiana University completed repatriation of the remains to Angel Mounds State Historic Site from the school’s Glenn A. Black Laboratory of Archaeology, the Evansville Courier & Press reported Saturday.
In 2018, Indiana University researchers landed a $300,000 federal grant to preserve a treasure trove of artifacts excavated from the site. The school worked with several federally recognized tribal nations in the multi-year process to comply with the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act.
The remains had been at the school since 1971. They were restored in March to Angel Mounds.
“It was the right thing to do. They are supposed to be there,” said Mike Linderman, western regional director for state historic sites at the Indiana State Museum and manager for Angel Mounds State Historic Site.
The remains were unearthed from the site near the Ohio River at the direction of archaeologist Glenn Black in 1939.
The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act was passed in 1990 and mandates the return of Native American human remains and cultural items to tribal nations, according to the newspaper.
“NAGPRA is about human rights, respecting tribal sovereignty and federal law,” said Jayne-Leigh Thomas, Indiana University’s NAGPRA director.
“We still have a long way to go, but we are so incredibly honored and committed to seeing this work completed,” she said in a release.
Angel Mounds is located near Evansville and along the banks of the Ohio River.
The 603-acre (244-hectare) site encompasses 11 mounds that were once part of a fortified, walled city Native Americans occupied until about 1450. It’s considered one of North America’s best-preserved, pre-contact Native American sites.
“We hope the community will continue to be supportive of the fact that this site is sacred to American Indians and be respectful,” said Carrie Wilson, Quapaw Nation NAGPRA coordinator.