Tuesday, May 17, 2005
The fate of 168 sets of American Indian remains housed at Kansas University could be decided as soon as the end of this year.
KU and other state entities, including Kansas State University, Wichita State University and the Kansas State Historical Society, previously returned remains that were culturally identifiable to the respective tribes under the federal Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act.
But KU still has 168 sets of remains that were found over the years within the state of Kansas but can't be identified by tribe.
The university has been negotiating the return of those bones to 14 tribes who historically were found in Kansas. Representatives of the historical society, WSU and KSU also are involved in the same negotiation process for remains found at their sites.
Mary Lee Hummert, associate vice provost for research at KU, said she thought that final approval from the 14 tribes for returning the sets of remains could come by the end of this year.
After that, the memorandum of agreement would need to be approved by the federal government.
"We'd like to see this resolved as quickly as possible," she said. "It's a high priority for us."
James Riding In, an Arizona State University professor who was involved with the Pawnee nation's negotiations with KU, said once the memorandum is signed, the university would hand over the remains to the 14 tribes.
"The tribes would decide the disposition of the remains," he said.
One possibility, he said, would be a joint ceremony to reinter the remains