Several Idaho Native American Tribes Claim Found Bones

Feb 7, 2018

Remains of two Native Americans who lived between the 1400s and 1600s were found in sagebrush outside Mountain Home. Since being discovered, the Bureau of Land Management has kept the bones in storage as three tribal nations negotiate claims on the skeletons.
Credit Kirsten / Flickr

Three Native American tribes are in talks with the Bureau of Land Management about repatriating two skeletons found outside Mountain Home last April.

The remains of a young adult and a child came to light after a badger unearthed them in a ground squirrel’s burrow. When first discovered, the bones were in such good condition authorities initially treated the remote site where they were found as a crime scene. Investigators thought they could be from a decades-old crime or from settlers who died in the 19th century.

Carbon dating revealed the individuals probably lived sometime between the 1400s and the 1600s. Officials were so stunned by the results they tested the bones twice to confirm the age.

Three tribes: the Shoshone Bannock, the Shoshone-Paiute and Nez Perce have all made claims on the skeletal remains. The BLM is staying tight lipped about negotiations among the agency and the three tribes, which it considers government-to-government talks. A BLM spokesperson says a possible resolution could be found by spring.

The bones have remained in storage since their discovery. Scholars have expressed a desire to examine the skeletons to learn more about Native American culture in the region, but the tribes don't allow tests on ancestral remains.

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