After spending years being kept in a metal storage container, the remains of 53 Native American ancestors will finally be laid to rest.
According to Deseret News, 53 sets of remains were unearthed nearly five years ago during construction of the Jackson Flat Dam Water Supply Storage Facility near Kanab, Utah. One other set of remains was discovered but not disturbed.
The remains were claimed by the Kaibab Band of Pauite Indians, who are glad they will finally be reunited with Mother Earth, but are disheartened that they were uncovered to begin with.
“This sacred burial ground should never have been disturbed in the first place,” wrote Charley Bullets, director of cultural resources for the Kaibab, in a letter to John Hollenhorst, of Deseret News.
In the letter he included a quote from tribal elder Glendora Homer, who explained that “one’s burial place is considered hallowed ground. As with most people, the grave or the ground where one is buried is blessed by a spiritual person. Blessing the burial site is to make it sanctified. It is to make it sacred. The burials at Jackson Flat are no different from that of the white man. These people were loved. They were carefully and lovingly placed in the ground as attested by the artifacts that were buried with and around them.”
The remains are to be reburied in unmarked graves at a site near the original burial site in May or June, reported Deseret News. The new burial site will be protected from further disruption by a conservation easement. And proximity to the original burial site is important.
“When we die and are buried, we are returned to Mother Earth, to become a part of Mother Earth, and to nurture and stabilize her for new growth,” Bullets said in his letter. “The spirit is at rest in the specific place where we are buried, a place that has been blessed and sanctified. By reburying these remains close to where they were found, we are doing our best to honor and respect them, and to keep them close to the resting place of their spirit.”