Remains removed in 1957 by archeologists could be Shoalwater Bay tribal members

Remains of local Native American tribal members could be coming back home after 66 years.

A notice in the Federal Register that was filed this week by the National Park Service states that Central Washington University completed an inventory of human remains and associated funerary objects, and in doing so determined that remains within their inventory are likely to be from Shoalwater Bay Indian Tribe descendants.

The study was done in accordance with the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA).

According to the notice, in 1957;

“human remains representing, at minimum, two individuals were removed from the Martin Site (45–PC–7) in Pacific County, WA, by then University of Washington graduate student James Alexander. Site 45–PC–7 dates from 700 to 1800 years BP. Sometime later, these human remains, together with associated funerary objects, were among a collection returned to Central Washington University Department of Anthropology by (former) faculty member Dr. Alexander. While unpacking the boxes containing this collection, staff identified possible human remains, whereupon the collection was transferred to the NAGPRA Director, who formally accessioned the collection in 2021 (CWU Accession Box EC). No known individuals were identified. The 13 associated funerary objects are one bag of dirt, eight animal bones, one small rock, and three shells.”

The remains of two humans and 13 items that “are reasonably believed” to be related to them, possibly placed with them as part of “the death rite or ceremony” were determined to have a “relationship of shared group identity” that can be reasonably traced to the Shoalwater Bay Indian Tribe.

In order for the remains to be returned to tribal possession, there would need to be a request from the tribe or a descendent of the remains for repatriation sent to the Department of Anthropology and Museum Studies at Central Washington University.

Repatriation of the human remains and associated funerary objects in this notice may occur on or after May 4, 2023.

According to the filing, notice has been sent to the Shoalwater Indian Tribe of the findings.