On the morning of September 18, 2009, Councilwoman Audrey Falcon and Ziibiwing Director Shannon Martin consulted with officials from Harvard University’s Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology in Cambridge, MA regarding the culturally affiliated ancestors the museum had in their possession. Falcon and Martin were in Cambridge at the time to participate in Harvard University’s Honoring Nations Symposium. With the consultation completed, much work now lay ahead for the Ziibiwing Staff.
At the heart of the effort was the compilation of information for one young female ancestor. In 1856, human remains representing a minimum number of one individual were removed from the western shore of Tawas Point, Iosco County, Michigan by Henry Gillman. The individual was donated to the Peabody Museum by Mr. Gillman in 1869.
Last fall, winter, and into the spring of 2010, Ziibiwing’s Curator William Johnson and his team researched and assembled all of the necessary historical documents to uphold the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan’s claim for this individual. The team uncovered substantial information related to this ancestor in the Tribal Archives; in fact some of the documentation was virtually unknown to the officials at the Peabody Museum. The information supplied by the Ziibiwing team strengthened the final verbiage for the Peabody’s Notice of Inventory Completion. The Federal Register Notice was posted on May 21, 2010.
The repatriation will also include bringing home the human remains of 9 individuals that were removed from a site 3 miles northwest of Byron, MI by Arthur W. Carpenter as part of a Peabody Museum expedition in 1915. These human remains were donated to the Peabody Museum by Mr. Carpenter that very same year. The associated funerary objects are two fabric masses with attached metal ornaments. The Peabody Museum posted a Notice of Inventory Completion in the Federal Register on March 20, 2001.
In order to physically and financially accomplish the repatriation, Ziibiwing’s Funding & Development Specialist Charla Burton and the grant team began to design and write a National Park Service NAGPRA grant in early May. The grant was successfully submitted in late June. On July 7, Ziibiwing received official notification from the National Park Service NAGPRA Program that our funding request was awarded to cover all associated travel and reburial costs for this repatriation.
Two members of the Ziibiwing team and other Tribal delegates will travel to Cambridge, MA on August 29-September 1 to retrieve the physical remains of these 10 culturally affiliated individuals and 2 associated funerary objects from Harvard University’s Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology.
The Reburial Ceremony will take place on September 2 in the Tribe’s Nibokaan Ancestral Cemetery. The Nibokaan was established in 1995 for the explicit purpose of reburying repatriated Native American ancestral remains and associated funerary objects. The Tribal community is invited to participate in the Reburial Ceremony. For more information, contact William Johnson of the Ziibiwing Center at (989) 775-4750.