――In Light of the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples――


チョクトー ネーション、半世紀を経て124人の先祖の遺骨を再埋葬

 1950年代と60年代に大学によって研究のために発掘された124人の先祖の遺骨が、ついに安らかに眠ることができるようになった。チョクトー ネーションの歴史保存担当者であるテリー コール氏によれば、これらの先祖の遺骨は、段ボール箱や紙袋に入れられていたとのこと。チョクトー ネーションが連邦政府機関によって、ミシシッピ州にある遺骨が彼らのものである可能性があると知らされたのが2002年のことで、彼らは2009年に、NAGPRA(アメリカ先住民族墳墓保護・返還法)の手続きによる返還請求を行った。そして今週の23日(水)、500年前に彼らに属していた遺骨の返還を受けることが決まった。

 チョクトー人は、元々は、今日のアラバマ州ミシシッピ州の一部に定住していた。歴史的に悪名高き1830年冬の強制移住政策によって、彼らは「涙の道(Trail of Tears)」を通って、当時、「インディアン カントリー」と称された、現在のオクラホマ州に移住した。



 チョクトー トライブの考古学者は語る。「何でも見つかったものは宝物だと、必ずしも誰にも属さないという、そんな考えがこの国の人たちの頭の中にはまり込んでいるっていうのかな。たとえそれが、ある人の墓の中にあった場合でさえ。」




After Decades, Choctaw Reclaim Ancestor Remains
Posted: Feb 24, 2011 9:57 AM

DURANT, OK--After being displaced for more than half a century, the remains of 124 Choctaw ancestors can finally rest in peace. A university excavated the grave in the 1950s and 1960s for study, but now the Choctaw can "rebury" their dead.

"... find that our ancestors are stored in cardboard boxes and paper sacks," Terry Cole said, Choctaw Historic Preservation Officer.

A federal institution first notified the tribe in 2002 that human remains in Mississippi could be Choctaw. The nation filed a claim in 2009. Wednesday, they were awarded what was once theirs 500 years ago.

"Our graves to be sacred--our ancestors burial spots to be sacred and part of that is to protect them and because native people were taken off of our land, we can't do that always," Ian Thompson said, Choctaw Tribal Archaeologist.

The Choctaw originally settled in parts of Alabama and Mississippi. After the Trail of Tears, they relocated to Oklahoma.

"In the winter of 1830, the Choctaws were forcibly removed from their homeland to what was Indian Territory, which is Oklahoma today," Cole said.

The remains have been the target of museums, anthropologists and even thieves.
Now they will be buried in Mississippi, the original homeland of the Choctaw.

"That just sort of stuck in the mindset of this land not necessarily belonging to anyone--whatever was found was treasure--even if it happened to be in a person's grave," Thompson said.

"Choctaws believe that during their journey, they can't be disturbed," Cole said.

What was treasure for another, can now be sacred again for the Choctaw people.

This would not have been possible without the Native American Graves Repatriation Agreement, a federal law passed in 1990 which requires anyone who discovers a possible tribal grave on public ground to notify authorities.

Jen French, KTEN News