Jodi Rave: Tribal ancestors stockpiled across nation
"I recently asked a spokesperson for the nation’s largest public power company about thousands of American Indian bones and funeral objects in the federal corporation’s possession. The Tennessee Valley Authority spokesperson seemed to think I was pulling his leg when I told him the TVA had bones belonging to more than 8,000 individual Indians and nearly 21,000 funeral objects. The bones and items were removed from Native archeological and burial sites as part of the TVA’s economic development project spanning seven states.

“Where do we keep them?” said John Moulton, TVA’s senior news bureau manager. “Do we have them buried somewhere?” He said he’s worked with the TVA for 22 years and never heard such a story.

The TVA’s bone collection is part of a recently released report that outlines enforcement and oversight problems among federal agencies charged to abide by the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act of 1990, a law passed 18 years ago in November.

The “Federal Agency Implementation of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act” report concludes government agencies have “no apparent enforcement mechanisms or incentives” to comply with NAGPRA.

Today, agencies like the Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service and TVA have more than 118,000 human remains in their possession. The bones are stockpiled on shelves at universities and museums across the country. After making an inquiry, the TVA spokesman learned the power company stores most Indian remains at the University of Tennessee and the University of Alabama."

Get the Story:
Jodi Rave: Feds not complying with act passed 18 years ago (Lee Enterprises 11/28)

Related Stories:
Jodi Rave: Appeals court to hear Cobell case (11/24)
Jodi Rave: No economic aid for Indian Country (11/21)
Jodi Rave: Natives on Obama transition team (11/20)
Jodi Rave: Indian Heritage Month ignored (11/14)
Jodi Rave: Trust reform an issue for Obama (11/12)
Jodi Rave: NCAI excited about Obama transition (11/10)
Jodi Rave: Denise Juneau gets to work in Montana (11/10)
Jodi Rave: Work starts on Native campus center (11/7)