Why the 700 Native American Remains Were Returned to Angel Mounds
I am a huge history geek and I get very excited when I see stuff like this. By now you may have seen the big news that over 700 Native American remains were returned to Angel Mounds. Pretty cool, right? So, why is this such a big deal? I’m glad you asked.
First, let me give you a quick history lesson on Angel Mounds. So, up until 1938 the site of Angel Mounds was farmland owned and operated by the Angel Family. Then, the Indiana Historical Society, with the help of a generous loan from Eli Lilly, bought the land to protect it from turning into a developmental property. In 1939 the site was excavated and this led to the discovery of over 2 million Native American Artifacts. At the time, this was a huge deal.
Of course, during a huge archeological dig like this one you are going to find more than ancient artifacts. This is where the 700 Native American remains come into play. They were removed from the site and, until very recently, had not been at Angel Mounds.
So, why were the remains returned? Back in 1990, the United States Congress passed the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act. The NAGPRA requires the return of Native American remains and cultural items to tribal nations. You might be thinking why has this taken so long to accomplish. The simple answer is that there is a lot that goes into putting things back where they belong. Especially when it comes to something of this size.
There is a lot of coordination between the museum, various Native American tribes and, in this instance, universities like Indiana University. When it is all said and done the most important thing to happen is that the remains are returned to where they belong.
I really do love stories like this. When you think about the fact that there were entire civilizations on this continent way before the Europeans arrived, it’s mind-boggling. That period is still a really important part of our history and it should be preserved as such.