Chumash Return Ancient Remains to the Channel Islands

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Chumash Return Ancient Remains to the Channel Islands
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Photo: Tim Hauf

Source: National Park Service

The Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians (Chumash Tribe) has returned the ancient remains of a Native American man who died 10,000 years ago, known as Tuqan Man, to a burial site on San Miguel Island. 

Tuqan Man was discovered inadvertently in 2005 by archeologists from the University of Oregon who were surveying an archeological site on the island. The ancient remains were found exposed and eroding into a gully within the site. 

Following the discovery, the National Park Service (NPS) consulted with the Chumash Tribe and together they decided to excavate the unprotected burial of Tuqan Man to prevent it from eroding from the cliff and being lost to the sea. 

A full scientific study was conducted due to the cultural and scientific significance of the prehistoric remains. 

Federal law, the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA), required that the NPS determine if the remains of Tuqan Man were Native American, and if so, whether they could be transferred to a Native American tribe. 

The Chumash Tribe supported the scientific process as necessary, and worked closely with the NPS to ensure the remains were treated respectfully throughout the process. The Chumash Tribe firmly believe that Tuqan Man is their ancestor. 

“Protecting the final resting places of our ancestors is of paramount importance to the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians,” said Kenneth Kahn, Tribal Chairman for the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians. “When our tribe learned of the discovery made by archeologists on San Miguel Island, we made it a priority to ensure that our ancestor was laid to rest with a proper burial. Thanks to years of cooperation with the National Park Service, we were granted that opportunity.” 

After careful analysis and consideration the NPS determined that Tuqan Man is Native American. Tuqan Man was found to have a significant cultural relationship to American Indian groups and to the maritime culture found on the northern Channel Islands for over 13,000 years. 

The Chumash Tribe requested custody of Tuqan Man and was granted custody by NPS per NAGPRA regulations. Recently, the Chumash Tribe returned Tuqan Man to his resting place on San Miguel Island.

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Flicka Jun 19, 2018 02:14 PM
Chumash Return Ancient Remains to the Channel Islands

We have cemeteries all over the world to honor our deceased, we don't just drop them down a canyon or into the ocean. So why is there nonsense on here about how returning Native American bones to their place of original life and burial being denigrated here? Simply a case of no respect to the beliefs of Native Americans

NostraChumash Jun 18, 2018 09:27 AM
Chumash Return Ancient Remains to the Channel Islands

"Silly" & "Mumbo-jumbo" are a matter of personal perspective. We Natives find it "odd" that some folks believe in a "Sky Father" that watches everything we do & will send us to purgatory for disobedience forever..but he Loves us..? And the "progress" mentioned.. is the result of only 500yrs of habitation here & the entire planet is now dying or dead. Good work, great point.

a-1537484106 Jun 18, 2018 10:09 AM
Chumash Return Ancient Remains to the Channel Islands

to N-Chumash: The last 500 years, the last 3000 years, have been screwed up by people who impose ritualistic nonsense on the unfettered mind. Really, the native peoples of the Americas were not that much better than the European invaders. Check out the human degradation and sacrifice of so many of their cultures in the pursuit of blessings from the gods. Jingoistic loyalty to your fantasy is little better than Shariah law or "In God We Trust".

a-1537484106 Jun 18, 2018 08:28 AM
Chumash Return Ancient Remains to the Channel Islands

Nice science had a time with these bones. Silly to pretend that the 'ancestor' is any better off for the placement of the bones on the island than where they were. This sort of religious mumbo-jumbo is what prevents people from progressing to a better world.

Yeti Jun 17, 2018 02:40 PM
Chumash Return Ancient Remains to the Channel Islands

I am very happy to read of how the Chumash permitted their ancestor to be studied by scientists and then repatriated to the island. I can only imagine how hard of a decision this was for their people to make. After centuries of grave robbing and much of their past being lost to the white man, I would have understand if they had decided NOT to permit the scientific work. I also find it interesting how the article previous to this one is regarding the crashing of a B-24 airplane 75 years ago on the same island and the loss of 12 American lives. Amazing juxtaposition and clash of cultures.

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