Archaeologists question Buffalo reburials (W.Va.)

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An archeologist on Tuesday criticized Putnam County commissioners for their efforts to return the skeletal remains of about 600 American Indians to West Virginia, saying they had left the scientific community in the dark.

"We have been cut out of the process entirely," said Bob Maslowski, president of the Council for West Virginia Archaeology.

Last month, commissioners received legal control of the skeletal remains, which had been stored at Ohio State University since the mid-1990s.

In the early 1960s, West Virginia's first state archaeologist excavated a site near the present-day Toyota plant in Buffalo. People working on the site eventually found the remains of hundreds of American Indians.

Over the past decade, some people in Putnam County have advocated for the return and reburial of the remains, out of what they say is respect for Indian spirituality. Commissioners intend to rebury the remains at a site near the original excavation.

A 1990 law called the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) allows federally recognized tribes to reclaim Indian remains and artifacts from museums and universities.

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