Local & Regional
8:42 am
Sun March 20, 2011

Choctaw Reburial

Oklahoma City, OK – Choctaws reburying ancestors unearthed decades ago

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) The Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma is leading an effort to rebury 124 bodies believed to be those of their ancestors.

The tribal members died five centuries ago. Archeologists exhumed the bodies in excavations along the Natchez Trace Parkway in Mississippi in the 1950s and 1963 but the remains ended up in museum storage.

Tribal historical preservation director Terry Cole says Choctaws believe that once people are buried they become part of Mother Earth. Cole says once they were dug up, their journey to the other side was disrupted.

Excavation of Indian burial sites wasn't uncommon in the 20th century. Christina Smith with the Natchez Trace Parkway says the mindset then was to unearth the remains for scientific reasons.

Cole says the new graves will be dug by hand.