Wiyot stays ‘come home’ to tribe – Times-Standard

Nearly 162 years after a brutal massacre on Tuluwat left up to 250 Wiyot tribesmen dead, many of them women and children, the suspicious remains of 20 people and 136 artifacts were recently repatriated to the Wiyot tribe in Humboldt County.

The remains – which were repatriated by the San Francisco District U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the University of California, Berkeley after residing at the university’s Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology – were determined to be likely the victims of the Tuluwat Massacre, which began February 26, 1860, when settlers attacked Wiyot villages. The island is also known locally as Indian Island.

The remains were returned last month.

“It’s important for them to come home so they can be with their families and be with the tribe and be with the people of Humboldt County,” said Ted Hernandez, historic preservation manager for the Wiyot Tribe.

The remains and artifacts were returned pursuant to the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, a law enacted in 1990 that provides a framework for federal institutions to return Native American cultural artifacts to the tribe to which they belong.

Artifacts and remains will be buried in an undisclosed location to keep them intact and prevent people from digging them up.

The remains were first discovered in 1946 during construction around the Humboldt Bay piers, and UC Berkeley determined that the remains likely belonged to victims of the 1860 massacre in 2021. Initially, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the university could not determine who owned the land where the remains were discovered, meaning they could not say which party should repatriate the remains. They finally decided to carry out the repatriation together.

Hernandez noted that there are likely many more items significant to Native American tribes across the country, but if anyone in Humboldt County has any artifacts, they should return them to their home tribe.

“I would like people to know if they have any artifacts that have been buried from the grave, please return them to the tribe. They must return home and they must return with their ancestors. It is important that they all return together “Hernandez said. “Our ancestors need to be returned to their families.

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