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Osage Nation wins historic NAGPRA battle for Missouri remains

Photo caption: A Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Review Committee meeting in Washington, D.C., Oct. 17-19, 2018. Courtesy Photo/ONHPO

It’s been a six-year battle for the Osage Nation Historic Preservation Office to gain possession of remains and funerary objects the National NAGPRA Review Committee ruled were Osage in 2015.

The Missouri State Historic Preservation Office repeatedly denied the remains to the Osage Nation, which were discovered in 2013 at the Clarksville Mound Group site in Pike County, Mo. The MoSHPO insisted the remains and objects belonged with the Sac and Fox Nation, despite the ruling.

The individuals from the Clarksville Mound site date to a prehistoric period that pre-dates Sac and Fox occupancy of the area and correlates to the ancestral Osage occupation of Missouri, according to a 2017 Osage News article.

“The final 30-day comment period ended yesterday (Sept. 17) and no other tribe came forth with a claim for the Clarksville Mound Group remains,” said ON Historic Preservation Officer Dr. Andrea Hunter. “Our office, along with the Attorney General’s Office, stood firm on our claim to our ancestors, and we were successful!

“The final claim and request for transfer of control letter was emailed to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources yesterday (Sept. 16) after 5:00 p.m. eastern time,” she said. “I am so elated; this was not an easy battle. A huge milestone in this process came in June of this year when they (MoDNR) actually changed its decision regarding the cultural affiliation of the Clarksville Mound Group remains from Sac and Fox to Osage.”

The Clarksville Mound Group at one time had 10 mounds from the Late Woodland to Mississippian period. However, all but one mound was destroyed when a “sky lift” tourist attraction was constructed in 1962. In 1995 and 1996, the City of Clarksville and the MoSPHO removed, at a minimum, 22 individuals and two associated funerary objects from the last remaining mound, according to a 2017 Osage News article.

In 2002 and 2006 the individuals and funerary objects were exhumed and transferred to the MoSHPO from private collectors and the University of Missouri. At final count, there are a minimum of 29 individuals and two associated funerary items awaiting final transferal.

The ONHPO staff, Hunter and ON Assistant Attorney General Morgan Currey, have been to numerous meetings over the years, National NAGPRA Review Committee hearings and court proceedings.

“This has certainly been a team effort and we now look forward to reburying our ancestors,” Hunter said.

Miranda Compton, outside counsel for the ONHPO, said the Nation’s victory is only the second time in the history of NAGPRA that a state agency decision regarding affiliation has been successfully reversed.

“The correction by Missouri DNR not only confirms that the state of Missouri should properly recognize the Osage Nation’s ancestral bonds to these lands, but serves as a notice to federal agencies as well,” Compton said. “Congratulations to the Nation and the exceptional expertise of Dr. Hunter’s team, the Historic Preservation Office, and the AG’s office on a tremendous success following a difficult, multi-year effort.”


By

Shannon Shaw Duty


Original Publish Date: 2019-09-27 00:00:00

Author

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Shannon Shaw Duty
Shannon Shaw Dutyhttps://osagenews.org

Title: Editor

Email: sshaw@osagenation-nsn.gov

Twitter: @dutyshaw

Topic Expertise: Columnist, Culture, Community

Languages spoken: English, Osage (intermediate), Spanish (beginner)

Shannon Shaw Duty, Osage from the Grayhorse District, is the editor of the award-winning Osage News, the official independent media of the Osage Nation. She is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism and a master’s degree in Legal Studies with an emphasis in Indigenous Peoples Law. She currently sits on the Freedom of Information Committee for the Society of Professional Journalists. She has served as a board member for LION Publishers, as Vice President for the Pawhuska Public Schools Board of Education, on the Board of Directors for the Native American Journalists Association (now Indigenous Journalists Association) and served as a board member and Chairwoman for the Pawhuska Johnson O’Malley Parent Committee. She is a Chips Quinn Scholar, a former instructor for the Freedom Forum’s Native American Journalism Career Conference and the Freedom Forum’s American Indian Journalism Institute. She is a former reporter for The Santa Fe New Mexican. She is a 2012 recipient of the Native American 40 Under 40 from the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development. In 2014 she helped lead the Osage News to receive NAJA's Elias Boudinot Free Press Award. The Osage News won Best Newspaper from the SPJ-Oklahoma Chapter in their division 2018-2022. Her award-winning work has been published in Indian Country Today, The Washington Post, the Center for Public Integrity, NPR, the Associated Press, Tulsa World and others. She currently resides in Pawhuska, Okla., with her husband and together they share six children, two dogs and two cats.
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