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(Last updated 9/11/08)

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“BUFFALO 600” REMAINS RETURN TO WEST VIRGINIA AFTER YEARS

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Two decades after an Ohio State University graduate student saved them from destruction, the remains of more than 600 Native Americans are being returned to their homeland.

A truck bearing more than a hundred carefully packaged boxes of remains left campus Wednesday (9/10) bound for the Grave Creek Mound Archaeological Complex Research Facility in Moundsville, WV.

The remains, known as the “Buffalo 600,” were transferred to the West Virginia research facility after the issue of their disposition was heard by federal authorities charged with protecting Native American remains.

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“We’re pleased that we could assist in this return of these people’s remains to the lands from which they were removed a half-century ago.”


An earlier agreement between Ohio State and the Putnam County (WV) Commission to transfer the remains to that organization was negated after West Virginia state officials claimed ownership.

Ohio State’s Department of Anthropology had kept the remains on campus since the 1980s when a grad student, visiting another Ohio university, noticed that the remains were about to be thrown away.  Along with department faculty, he arranged to have the human bones shipped to the Columbus campus where they have remained.

The disposition of Native American remains is strictly controlled by NAGPRA, the federal Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, and Ohio State was obligated to safeguard them until legal control of the remains could be established by the Department of the Interior.

Agreement to transfer the remains to the new archeological research facility in Moundsville, WV, was reached earlier this year.

“We’re pleased that we could assist in this return of these people’s remains to the lands from which they were removed a half-century ago,” explained Clark Spencer Larsen, professor and chair of anthropology at Ohio State.

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Contact:  Clark Spencer Larsen, (614) 292-4117; larsen.53@osu.edu, or Scott Speedy, Curator, Grave Creek Facility, (304) 843-6394; scott.speedy@wvculture.org.
Written by Earle Holland, (614) 292-8384; Holland.8@osu.edu.