With state's nod, Indians' spirits can walk free

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In the bowels of the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., are boxes containing the skeletal remains of more than 130 Native Americans who died in Virginia centuries ago.

They were members of the Patawomeck and Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) tribes; their remains date to 1580. The bones were excavated by the Smithsonian Institution during an archeological dig in Southampton County in the 1960s.

Both tribes want the museum to return the remains so their ancestors can be restored to their proper resting place.

“Their spirits are not walking free,” said Chief Walt D. “Red Hawk” Brown III of the Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Tribe. “Because they are in shoe boxes – not where they are supposed to be.”...

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