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Reburials - Repatriation Program

ceremonyCoahuiltecan all-night repatriation ceremony participants, at the Meadows Center for Water and the Environment, April 2-3, 2016

The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) databases list more than 7 million Culturally Unidentifiable Inventoried (CUI) Native American remains of our ancestors that have been unearthed over the years and are kept in “collections” by universities, museums, and federal and state departments. 

Over 7 million human remains have been unearthed and collected in a country where it is against the law to disturb a human grave.  As of 2015, the remains of 3,454 ancestors were removed from our Texas sacred grounds.  Our obligation, as native people, as Texas Indians, is to get all of these remains of our ancestors reinterred back into sacred grounds. 

First Repatriation

In December 2011 Texas State University unearthed the remains of a 25-year-old man buried over 1,200 years ago. The remains had been buried near what is now the Meadows Center ticket booth, close to the shores of the Sacred Springs in Spring Lake, San Marcos, Texas. The body had been deliberately and lovingly buried in the fetal position, with the head facing east, and a ring of rocks circling the grave.

Texas State University and the Miakan-Garza Band went through the process established by the federal Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act in order to transfer the remains to the tribe for reburial. On March 24, 2016 Texas State University gave the remains to the Miakan-Garza for reburial. The following week on April 2 - 3, the tribe conducted an all-night Coahuiltecan repatriation ceremony (photo above), but were unable to bury the remains immediately.

On September 6, 2016 the City of San Marcos executed a memo of understanding with the Indigenous Cultures Institute, acting on behalf of the Miakan-Garza Band of the Coahuiltecan people, establishing the first Texas city repatriation burial ground. The burial site was specifically designated for ancient Native American remains unearthed from Hays County.On November 11, 2016, the reburial ground, with a majestic, rounded, wrought iron fence, contributed by Texas State University, was ready for the first repatriation ceremony which will be conducted in March 2017.

Ongoing Work

NAGPRA has been amended to allow non-federally recognized tribes to be included in the process.  However, in the 25 years since NAGPRA was passed, the Secretary of the Interior, with the recommendation of the NAGPRA Review Committee, has given human remains to non-BIA tribes only eleven times. 

The Miakan-Garza tribe is the twelfth non-BIA tribe to obtain human remains through the NAGPRA process and the only tribe from Texas.  Because the tribe has been aware of the remains since they were unearthed, tribal members requested to be included in the consultation process.  Also, since the tribe has been very active in the San Marcos area, the staff at the Center for Archeological Studies at Texas State University was aware of their existence.  The tribe has documented the entire process undergone in obtaining and repatriating their ancestors' remains in hopes that other Texas tribes can learn from their efforts and also be successful.

A manual documenting the Miakan-Garza's work will be published and available by the March 2017 reburial ceremony. Any indigenous group or tribal community interested in obtaining a copy of the manual, please CONTACT Indigenous Cultures Institute.

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NATIVE AMERICAN BURIAL SIGNAGE

We are happy to announce that our organization has successfully helped to establish the first Repatriation Burial Ground by a Texas city, in San Marcos, Texas.

The City of San Marcos set aside the land for this reburial ground and Texas State University contributed the security fencing. We now need a memorial plaque to commemorate this historic accomplishment.

The plaque will read:

The City of San Marcos, in cooperation with the Miakan-Garza Band of the Coahuiltecan people represented by the nonprofit Indigenous Cultures Institute, is the first Texas city to establish a repatriation burial ground for the re-interment of ancient Native American remains. This ground, part of an area designated by archeologists as the oldest, continuously inhabited site in North America, will be the final resting place for remains unearthed in Hays County.

The Coahuiltecan people were more than two hundred bands of Native Americans indigenous to Texas and northeastern Mexico, encountered by the first Europeans arriving in this area. The Miakan-Garza Band believe that they originated at the springs at the headwaters of the San Marcos River, near this site. May this historic burial ground provide a final resting place where these remains shall never again be disturbed.

.....................Help Us Reach Our Goal
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Help us fund a memorial plaque and sign post that acknowledges the historical significance of this burial ground for repatriating the ancient remains of our people.

REPATRIATION T-SHIRT FUND RAISER

Repatriation t-shirt available for purchase.
$20 plus postage.