REPATRIATION OF NATIVE AMERICAN HUMAN REMAINS AND OBJECTS POSSESSED OR CONTROLLED BY FEDERAL AGENCIES AND MUSEUMS.— (1) If, pursuant to section 5, the cultural affiliation of Native American human remains and associated funerary objects with a particular Indian tribe or Native Hawaiian organization is established, then the Federal agency or museum, upon the request of a known lineal descendant of the Native American or of the tribe or organization and pursuant to subsections (b) and (e) of this section, shall expeditiously return such remains and associated funerary objects.
A bundle of sun-bleached bone
and sticks wrapped with skins
in which we loved them. Or nestled
at the charred hearth,
clutching the wing of a swan
to ward spirits. Or
cherry oak, pine
slatted and nailed
neatly under six feet
or in hard times
above one another
so that the bodies collapse
like floors of ruined buildings, sighing
into the coffins below. Or
piled, piled, piled, piled,
nameless, done in,
piled, piled, piled,
piled, buried over quickly
in the night.
Or in personal collections,
in trophy cases, or in pieces, piled,
cataloged and inked with the smallest
numbers along the cranial spline. Or
packed amid boxes in the basement
of the Longhouse Museum,
until proper funding can be acquired
for a proper display. Red-taped and returned,
gathering dust, far from the longhouses you knew.
Day 2 of 30 for National Poetry Month. Inspired by previous work in forensic anthropology. For more information on the repatriation of human remains in North America, see NAGPRA. Header photo is also mine.