Saginaw Chippewa Tribal citizens carry remains at previous ceremony on Isabella Indian Reservation in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan. Native News Online photo by Levi Rickert
Published November 7, 2016
ISABELLA INDIAN RESERVATION – The Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan invites the interested public to join with us for the Recommitment to the Earth Ceremony for 51 ancestors (originating from Alpena and Saint Clair Counties) to be held on Saturday, November 12, 2016 at 12 noon in the Tribe’s Nibokaan Ancestral Cemetery.
The Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan and its Ziibiwing Cultural Society (Ziibiwing Center of Anishinabe Culture & Lifeways), in cooperation with five other Authorized Transfer Recipient Tribes (Little River Band of Ottawa Indians, Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians – Gun Lake Tribe, Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi, Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians, and Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians), will lead an effort for the disposition of the physical human remains of 98 Native American individuals from Harvard University’s Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology in Cambridge, Mass.
The Native American ancestral remains originate from the Michigan Counties of Alpena, Berrien, Kent, Newaygo, Saint Clair, Washtenaw, and Wayne, as well as one Unknown site. Some of the ancestors have been at Harvard University since as early as 1869. The eight Notices of Inventory Completion for the 98 ancestors posted to the Federal Register on October 3, 2016.
The Ziibiwing Cultural Society has been working diligently on behalf of the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan, and in cooperation with the Michigan Anishinaabek Cultural Preservation & Repatriation Alliance, to bring home ancestors and their associated funerary objects from the numerous museums, universities, and institutions across the country since the passage of the 1990 Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA).
NAGPRA requires museums and federal agencies to inventory and identify Native American human remains and cultural items in their collections and to consult with Federally-recognized Indian tribes, and Native Hawaiian organizations regarding the return of these objects to descendants or tribes and organizations.
“As a result of NAGPRA, more than 10,000 Native American human remains, one million funerary objects, and thousands of sacred objects have been united with tribes and Native Hawaiian organizations,” said National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis.
A delegation from the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan will drive to Harvard University on Tuesday, November 8; and the other Michigan Tribal representatives will fly to Boston on November 9. The Transfer of Possession between the Michigan Tribes and Harvard University will take place on the afternoon of November 9. The planned repatriation and reburials will be executed in collaboration with Harvard University’s Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology and the Michigan Anishinaabek Cultural Preservation & Repatriation Alliance.
The Nibokaan Ancestral Cemetery was established in 1995 for the explicit purpose of reburying repatriated Native American ancestral human remains and associated funerary objects. The Nibokaan Cemetery is located on the Saginaw Chippewa’s Isabella Indian Reservation, behind the Tribal Campground located at 7525 East Tomah Rd., Mt. Pleasant, Mich. A Journey Feast to conclude the ancestral ceremonies and protocols will be held at 1pm on Saturday, November 12 at the Ziibiwing Center of Anishinabe Culture & Lifeways, 6650 East Broadway, Mt. Pleasant, Mich.
The reburials for the remaining 47 ancestors will be undertaken by the other five Authorized Transfer Recipient Tribes and will be within their respective Tribal territories. All repatriation activities are being supported by a grant from the Department of Interior, National Park Service, National NAGPRA Program.