This week, after nearly 60 years, the human remains of three Oneida ancestors who were dug out of the ground and kept by Cornell’s anthropology department in the campus archive have finally returned home for reburial. Speaking to his ancestors during the transfer ceremony at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, on Feb. 21, Dean Lyons, an Oneida Nation Turtle Clan member, said: “You will be back in Mother Earth. You will hear the waters again”. “You will hear the animals again. You will hear the thunders again. You will remain here undisturbed amongst your relations.” Oneida Indian Nation Representative, Ray Halbritter, reminded the audience that the return of ancestors to their homelands is a basic human right and that when an ancestor's remains and cultural artifacts are returned to a tribe, that tribe takes “another step forward in a long journey toward recognition of our sovereignty as a Nation and our dignity as people”. In a sign of determination to right its historic wrong, Cornell also returned the 22 funerary objects that were unearthed with the individuals. Today, universities and institutions across the country still hold more than 108,000 ancestors, based on their reports.

Read Full Story