Town Seeks to Return American Indians to their Graves

January 26, 2001

Source: The New York Times

On January 26, 2001, The New York Times reported that Buffalo, West Virginia, is trying to "reclaim and rebury the bodies" of 600 American Indians who were removed from their graves 35 years ago "in the name of science...Under a repatriation proposal, the bodies, which are now stored in plastic bags at Ohio State University, would be reinterred here in dedicated tribal ground where they were first put to earth across centuries...The plan has been endorsed by town fathers and descendants of various Indian communities." The university anthropologist in charge of the bodies "endorses the Buffalo repatriation but with the hope that a discreet process could be worked out so that qualified scientists retain some access to the remains for legitimate reasons...'These remains are valuable in the search to find out what happened' in the Ohio Valley prior to 1750, he said. "The town proposal hinges in part on a donation of the old burial acreage by the current owner, the American Electric Power Company. The utility's initial reaction has been positive." One town resident said that it is time "to give them back the dignity and respect due all our ancestors."