Yesterday the Spokesman-Review published a front page article concerning the repatriation of Indian artifacts and remains. Several local tribes, including the Spokane, received items stolen many years ago from graves or sacred sites. This action allows some small measure of healing from the depravities of past aggression against Native peoples.
This article also sparks a personal memory for me.
Back in the early part of 1990, I participated in another effort to repatriate human remains to the Spokane Reservation. My family helped create a suitable resting place for remains disturbed by the changing water levels along the Spokane River, as well as several sets of bones taken from our lands many years ago. For a young man of 19, it was a heavy task to handle the bones of our ancestors, but then again, everyone felt the sobering effects caused by the disturbance of these remains. To this day, it is still incomprehensible to me that Indian graves were ever seen as objects fit for scientific inquiry or for a museum gallery. The memory of our racist past is not so far removed.
But on a positive note, I'm grateful that people are finally beginning to recognize the dignity of Native peoples and to respect the worth of our sacred heritage.