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Government officials protect Indian burial ground in Kansas

Wednesday, August 14, 2002

NORTON, Kan. (AP) - "The Federal Bureau of Reclamation is protecting a site at Sebelius Reservoir, after investigators determined that human remains found there in July came from an American Indian burial ground.

The bureau took over security at the site on Aug. 6, 17 days after the remains were found, deputy area manager Steve Ronshaugen said.

After an initial investigation by the Norton County Sheriff's Department ruled out foul play, the remains were turned over to the Bureau of Reclamation.

The site, at an undisclosed location, has been fenced off and is under 24-hour surveillance. At the request of one of the 10 tribes involved, no photography or public visitation will be allowed.

"Since the whole discovery of a Native American burial is very sensitive, we would like to keep this as private as possible involving the Native American groups," said Bill Chada, the bureau's area archaeologist. "There are a number of federal laws that protect this archaeological and burial site, and we are trying to keep people out of the immediate area until our work is complete."

"We are consulting with the Native American tribes that have used the area in the past and are formulating a plan for either excavation or to preserve this burial site as much as possible," Chada said.

The 10 tribes involved in the site are the Apache Tribe of Oklahoma; the Arapaho Tribe of the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming; the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes of Cheyenne and Arapaho Reservation in Oklahoma; the Kaw Nation in Oklahoma; the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe of the Lower Brule Reservation in South Dakota; the Northern Cheyenne Tribe of the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation in Montana; the Pawnee Nation of Oklahoma; the Three Affiliated Tribes of the Fort Berthold Reservation in North Dakota; and the Wichita and Affiliated Tribes of Oklahoma.

"These tribes used this area for burial from time to time on their hunting trips and travels across the area," Chada said. "If the plan calls for an excavation we will go to the site and remove any remains and artifacts. We will again consult with the tribes for the final disposition."

2002 Copyright Argus Leader.

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