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Berkshire Museum to return human remains to Stockbridge-Munsee Community Band of Mohican Indians

Nov 27, 2023 1:03 pm

Christopher Marcisz reports for the Berkshire Eagle that the Berkshire Museum is returning the remains of two the Stockbridge-Munsee Community Band of Mohican Indians to the tribe 33 years after a federal law mandating museums return all cultural objects and remains. In 1990 the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act ordered the return of the artifacts. The remains of an adult and an adolescent from the 19th Century were recovered at a river washout in “Springfield/Longmeadow.” The story does not say why it took so long to return the remains after the law was passed, but said that other "institutions have been slow to return them, either from lack of staff resources or bureaucratic inertia, as well as the varying abilities of tribes to identify and pursue claims." Bonney Hartley, who is the tribal historic preservation officer for the tribe, said, “We are trying to step in and respectfully care for the ancestors and provide a dignified reburial for them, so they don’t remain on shelves at the museum and disturbed in their journey.” The Stockbridge-Munsee community is now based in Wisconsin since they were forced from their homelands in the Berkshires and Hudson River Valley more than 200 years ago. Read more about this story in the Berkshire Eagle.