Mississippi State receives grant to assess, return native remains from prehistoric mound near campus

Published 6:27 am Monday, November 15, 2021

A new National Park Service grant will help Mississippi State University assess human remains found at a historically significant late prehistoric Native American mound near campus and return them to their decedents.

The $90,000 grant is part of a larger $1.9 million in federal funds dispersed by the National Park Service through 11 grants across the U.S. supporting the transportation and return of cultural items.

Since 1990, federal law has required that institutions like museums and schools that receive federal funding return human remains, funerary objects and other sacred items to their Native American, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian descendants.

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Located in the Black Prairie region of northeastern Oktibbeha County, Lyon’s Bluff is a large Native American mound and village complex a few miles from Mississippi State University.

Throughout the process, the university team will consult with all Native American nations who have cultural and historical connections to Mississippi, said Shawn Lambert, principal investigator and an assistant professor in MSU’s Department of Anthropology and Middle Eastern Cultures.

Lambert said the process will strengthen tribal collaboration and develop a better understanding of Mississippi’s cultural heritage.

“More importantly, this project showcases the value of respecting and implementing tribal cultural protocols into archaeological practice,” he said.

Anthropology and Middle Eastern Cultures faculty members Anna Osterholtz said students will be able to see the process unfold from start ot finish and “experience the benefits of ethical cooperation.”