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home : news : local news December 11, 2017

Hamilton County Parks fined
Penalty assessed for federal violations at Strawtown Kotweeki Park
NAGPRA Violations/Steps taken to ensure future compliance:
1. Not completing an inventory of Native American human remains and associated funerary objects under its control by the April 20, 2009 and August 10, 2012 deadlines.

REMEDIAL ACTION TAKEN: In May of 2013, in consultation with the consulting tribes, Hamilton County Parks completed and submitted the required inventory. The inventory was published in the Federal Register on July 30, 2013.

2. Not consulting with the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma on the human remains and funerary objects.

REMEDIAL ACTION TAKEN: In the fall of 2012, Hamilton County Parks began active consultation on the inventory of partial human remains and funerary objects from Strawtown Koteewi Park with several federally recognized Indian Tribes identified as having aboriginal lands in Indiana, including the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma.

Steps taken to ensure future compliance:

1. HCPR has a Full-Time staff position dedicated to overseeing artifact collection related activities and responsible for overseeing (on the department's behalf) any archaeological activity on park property. Qualifications for this position include: Baccalaureate Degree in anthropology, archaeology, museum studies, conservation or related area with relevant field experience, or equivalent combination of education and experience.

Working knowledge of and ability to make practical application of department policies, procedures, and park rules.

2. Park Department has put in place a Collections Management Policy, which includes a procedure for encountering human remains.

3. Park staff has taken part in numerous NAGPRA training opportunities.

The Times

The U.S. Department of the Interior reduced a fine, owed by Hamilton County Parks and Recreation, for non-compliance with reporting procedures, in relation to archaeological activities at Strawtown Kotweeki Park, between 2001 and 2011.

The parks department will pay $6,533 for violations of the Native American Grave Protection and Repatriation Act.

The provisions were in regard to tribal consultations and inventory reporting. Forty-six related claims were dismissed by the USDI.

Hamilton County Parks is paying the penalty from the department's earned revenue funds, specifically generated through farming rental at Strawtown Koteewi Park.

Neither tax dollars nor donor contributions are a part of those funds.

Allen Patterson, park director, said he accepted the decision of the USDI, and added that the department has taken steps to ensure future compliance with the NAGRPA guidelines.

• A staff member will oversee archaeological activity and artifact collection on park property.

• The department created a policy to manage archaeological collections, including a procedure for human remains.

• The staff has taken NAGPRA training.

Professional archaeological investigations at Strawtown Koteewi Park ran from 2001 through 2011. They were performed by various universities; Indiana University, University of Indianapolis, Indiana State University, but primarily Ball State University and Indiana University/Purdue University - Fort Wayne.

These investigations were performed with permits filed and approved by Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Division of Historic Preservation and Archaeology.

However archaeologists and park officials failed to notify and consult with tribal leaders during the excavations, as required by federal law. Several Native American tribes filed complaints after learned about the work. In 2013, the Department of the Interior issued two citations.

Patterson said Forty-eight claims had originally been filed by three tribes with the US Department of the Interior. Eventually, claims by two of the tribes were dismissed, as the tribes were determined by the USDI not to have cultural affiliation.

Of those, all but five were not considered. Of the five that were considered, only two were found to have merit and determined to be violations. And those two were quickly remedied, Patterson said.

The parks department's first notification of inventory, in 2013, which corrected one of its NAGPRA violations, included approximately 12,000 artifacts. All professionals that HCPR consulted, agreed that most of the items included in that inventory exceeded the legal definition of what was required.

Very few of those 12,000 items were partial human remains - bone fragments - or associated funerary objects. At no point since HCPR has owned the property, were human burials ever exhumed from park property and placed in storage, Patterson said.

"It was never (the parks department's) intension to curate these types of artifacts," Patterson said.

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