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Hood Museum of Art
Dartmouth College
Hanover, NH 03755
603.646.2808
hood.museum@dartmouth.edu

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NAGPRA Repatriation

1996: Abenaki Nation of Missisquoi

Pursuant to Section 5 of the law, the NAGPRA coordinator was contacted by the Missisqouis Band of the Abenaki Nation on August 2, 1995, about a set of ancestral human remains in the custody of the Hood Museum of Art. The remains in question were discovered on June 10, 1945, in Tuftonboro, New Hampshire, where they had washed out of a bank on the shore of Lake Winnipesaukee. They were recovered by the New Hampshire State Police and brought to Dartmouth College for forensic examination by doctors at the medical school and anthropologists at the Dartmouth College Museum. The remains were subsequently identified as those of a ten- to twelve-year-old Native American child that had been interred for a long period of time. The remains were donated to the Dartmouth College Museum (now Hood Museum of Art), where they were held for the next fifty years.

Although, under NAGPRA, these remains were technically considered to be “culturally unidentifiable” because the Abenaki are not a federally recognized tribe, the NAGPRA Review Committee was charged with determining the final disposition of “unidentifiable” remains. The Hood’s NAGPRA coordinator offered to pursue the matter with the committee, if the Abenaki were interested in doing so. The offer was embraced and the consultation process began.

The NAGPRA Review Committee was petitioned on September 27, 1995, for a recommendation on the disposition of the remains in question. The request was considered at the committee’s October meeting, and on December 11, 1995, the departmental consulting archaeologist of the National Park Service wrote with the committee’s recommendations and a protocol for proceeding with the repatriation process. The committee asked that the Abenaki’s request to repatriate be publicized in local newspapers with circulation in both New Hampshire and Vermont. Then, if no other claimants came forward after a period of thirty days, a “Notice of Inventory Completion” could be created and published in the Federal Register for thirty days.

Classified legal notices and/or feature articles describing the repatriation request were published between January 31 and March 24, 1996. Since no counterclaims were received for thirty days after the last publication, the Hood’s NAGPRA coordinator submitted a detailed progress report and a draft “Notice of Inventory Completion” to the park service consulting archaeologist on April 23, 1996. On May 17, 1996, the notice was published in the Federal Register and ran its thirty days without comment or dispute.

On September 9, 1996, delegates of the Abenaki Nation of Missisquois took possession of the remains. With the permission of the current landowner, the remains were interred near the original location of their burial on the shore of Lake Winnipesaukee.

See http://www.nps.gov/nagpra/fed_notices/nagpradir/nic0075.html.

 

Last Updated: 8/16/11