Mississippi Returns Hundreds of Native Americans' Remains to Chickasaw Nation
Decades after their bones were placed in storage, the state has repatriated the remains of 403 Indigenous ancestors
April 5, 2021
Between 750 and 1,800 years ago, hundreds of Native Americans in what is now the northern Mississippi Delta region were buried alongside their kin and pet dogs in graves decorated with wolf teeth, beads, vases and turtle shells.
Instead of remaining in the ground as their loved ones had intended, the deceased were eventually unearthed by archaeologists and placed in state storage, as Brian Broom reports for the Mississippi Clarion Ledger. Their remains sat on shelves in the Mississippi Department of Archives and History (MDAH) for decades.
That injustice was finally rectified last month, when the department repatriated the remains of 403 Native American people, as well as 83 burial lots, to the Chickasaw Nation. Per a statement, the move marks the largest return of human remains in Mississippi since the passage of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) 31 years ago.