[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 232 (Tuesday, December 3, 2013)]
[Notices]
[Pages 72710-72711]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-28913]


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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

National Park Service

[NPS-WASO-NAGPRA-14191; PPWOCRADN0-PCU00RP14.R50000]


Notice of Intent To Repatriate Cultural Items: U.S. Department of 
the Interior, Bureau of Land Management, Alaska State Office, 
Anchorage, AK

AGENCY: National Park Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice.

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SUMMARY: The U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management 
(BLM), Alaska State Office, in consultation with the appropriate Indian 
tribes or Native Hawaiian organizations, has determined that the items 
listed in this notice meet the definition of unassociated funerary 
objects. Lineal descendants or representatives of any Indian tribe or 
Native Hawaiian organization not identified in this notice that wish to 
claim these items should submit a written request to the BLM Alaska 
State Office. If no additional claimants come forward, transfer of 
control of the items to the lineal descendants, Indian tribes, or 
Native Hawaiian organizations stated in this notice may proceed.

DATES: Lineal descendants or representatives of any Indian tribe or 
Native Hawaiian organization not identified in this notice that wish to 
claim these items should submit a written request with information in 
support of the claim to the BLM Alaska State Office at the address in 
this notice by January 2, 2014.

ADDRESSES: Robert E. King, Alaska State NAGPRA Coordinator, Bureau of 
Land Management, 222 W. 7th Avenue, Box

[[Page 72711]]

13, Anchorage, AK 99513-7599, telephone (907) 271-5510.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Notice is here given in accordance with the 
Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA), 25 
U.S.C. 3005, of the intent to repatriate items under the control of the 
BLM Alaska State Office and in the physical custody of the American 
Museum of Natural History, New York, NY, that meet the definition of 
unassociated funerary objects under 25 U.S.C. 3001.
    This notice is published as part of the National Park Service's 
administrative responsibilities under NAGPRA, 25 U.S.C. 3003(d)(3). The 
determinations in this notice are the sole responsibility of the 
museum, institution, or Federal agency that has control of the Native 
American items. The National Park Service is not responsible for the 
determinations in this notice.

History and Description of the Items

    Between 1931 and 1932, 86 partial sets of polar bear skulls were 
removed from the vicinity of the ``Kukulik'' Eskimo burial mound (also 
spelled ``Kookoolik''), about four miles east of the village of 
Savoonga, on St. Lawrence Island, AK. Surviving records report that at 
least one skull was recovered from a depth of ``3 feet and nine inches, 
but on clay bottom, associated with objects of the Old Bering Sea 
culture.'' The excavation was done by, or under authority of, Dr. Otto 
Geist, who was affiliated with the Alaska Agricultural College and 
School of Mines (today called the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, AK). 
No human remains or other items are known to have been removed during 
this excavation. At an unknown date after 1932, these polar bear skulls 
were sent to the American Museum of Natural History, New York, NY 
(AMNH).
    In 1957, one partial polar bear skull was removed from the vicinity 
of the same ``Kukulik'' Eskimo burial mound (also spelled 
``Kookoolik''), about four miles east of the village of Savoonga on St. 
Lawrence Island, AK. The excavation was done by, or under authority of, 
Dr. Otto Geist, whose affiliation was then reported as the University 
of Alaska at Fairbanks, AK. No human remains or other items are known 
to have been removed during this excavation. At an unknown date after 
1957, this polar bear skull was sent to the AMNH.
    Between 1931 and 1947, 204 partial sets of animal bones were likely 
removed from the vicinity of human burials on St. Lawrence Island, AK, 
by Dr. Otto Geist or under his authority. At the time, Dr. Geist was 
associated with the Alaska Agricultural College and School of Mines 
(today called the University of Alaska in Fairbanks, AK). Dr. Geist was 
also associated during some or all of this time with the University of 
Alaska Museum of the North at Fairbanks, AK. The 204 partial sets of 
animal remains include 200 partial polar bear skulls, two dog skulls, 
and two post cranial dog skeletons lacking skulls. Between 1931 and 
1947, these animal bones were sent to the AMNH.
    Dr. Geist's records at the AMNH state that some of the polar bear 
skulls came from surface contexts and others from subsurface contexts. 
As no records identify the specific provenience for each specimen, the 
exact numbers of surface-collected and subsurface-collected specimens 
are unknown. Of the 291 sets of animal bones listed in this notice, 
those found on the surface are approximately one or two centuries old. 
If they were any older, natural erosion from freeze-thaw action and 
consumption by animals would have destroyed them. The specimens found 
in buried contexts, including at least one partial polar bear skull was 
found at a depth of three feet and nine inches below the surface, may 
reasonably be connected to the Old Bering Sea culture of the region, 
and date from about 200 B.C. to 500 A.D.
    Ethnohistorical and genetic data indicate a continuity of cultural 
occupation of St. Lawrence Island from at approximately 300 A.D. to the 
present. Historical accounts and oral tradition presented by 
representatives of the Native Village of Gambell and the Native Village 
of Savoonga support this evidence for occupation, as well as the custom 
of placing polar bear skulls and dog remains at or near human graves. 
Based on the provenience, type, and condition of the animal remains, 
they are directly associated with Native American inhabitants of St. 
Lawrence Island. Descendants of these inhabitants are members of the 
Native Village of Gambell and the Native Village of Savoonga, who have 
made a joint request for these animal bones.

Determinations Made by the BLM Alaska State Office

    Officials of the BLM Alaska State Office have determined that:
     Pursuant to 25 U.S.C. 3001(3)(B), the 291 items described 
above are reasonably believed to have been placed with or near 
individual human remains at the time of death or later as part of the 
death rite or ceremony; the human remains are not in the possession or 
control of the BLM Alaska State Office; and the items can be identified 
by a preponderance of the evidence to have been removed from the 
specific burial sites of Native American individuals culturally 
affiliated with a particular Indian tribe.
     Pursuant to 25 U.S.C. 3001(2), there is a relationship of 
shared group identity that can be reasonably traced between the items 
and the Native Village of Gambell and the Native Village of Savoonga.

Additional Requestors and Disposition

    Lineal descendants or representatives of any Indian tribe or Native 
Hawaiian organization not identified in this notice that wish to claim 
these items should submit a written request with information in support 
of the claim to Robert E. King, Alaska State NAGPRA Coordinator, Bureau 
of Land Management, 222 W. 7th Avenue, Box 13, Anchorage, AK 99513-
7599, telephone (907) 271-5510, by January 2, 2014. After that date, if 
no additional claimants have come forward, transfer of control of the 
unassociated funerary objects to the Native Village of Gambell and the 
Native Village of Savoonga may proceed.
    The BLM Alaska State Office is responsible for notifying the Native 
Village of Gambell and the Native Village of Savoonga that this notice 
has been published.

    Dated: September 26, 2013.
David Tarler,
Acting Manager, National NAGPRA Program.
[FR Doc. 2013-28913 Filed 12-2-13; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4312-50-P




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