Bone repatriation poses some problems

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The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act is a federal law that requires museums and federal agencies to return human remains and other cultural items to their linear descendants. That means it's up to people like U.S. Fish & Wildlife archaeologist Debbie Corbett to locate all of the remains that were taken off of federal lands in Alaska, identify who they belong to, and try to get them home. But Corbett says the process isn't always straight forward for the dozens of remains she handles each year. The archaeologists and others who removed the bones, mostly during the 1930s and 40s, didn't always do it carefully.

"They're grabbing a bag full of bones that may or may not belong to one person," she said."There may be two people mixed in, there may be three people mixed in. They may all belong to one person. So what we did was we got all these fragments together in one place and looked at them as a group to try to see if we could reassemble individuals."

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