- Associated Press - Saturday, December 19, 2015

LEWISTON, Idaho (AP) - State officials have returned human remains and artifacts to the Nez Perce Tribe dug up more than four decades ago during construction of a northern Idaho rest stop along U.S. Highway 12.

The Idaho Transportation Department in an announcement Friday said the human remains and related objects were unearthed between 1967 and 1972 near Lenore.

“Repatriation is very important to the tribe,” Nez Perce Tribe staff attorney Darren Williams told the Lewiston Tribune (http://bit.ly/1QxBUsN). “Working on these processes to make this happen is important.”

The remains and other items had been stored at the Archaeological Survey of Idaho’s Northern Repository at the University of Idaho in Moscow.

In 2005 the state began funding for curating its excavated collections and identified human remains. Research revealed a strong relationship with the Nez Perce Tribe.

“The repatriation of these cultural items to the Nez Perce Tribe has strengthened the working relationship between the tribe and (the Idaho Transportation Department), and we are pleased these items have been returned,” Marc Munch, an archaeologist with the state agency, said in a statement.

The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act requires all sacred items to be returned to tribes.

The Nez Perce Tribe has received items previously under the act. Those items include a sacred bone whistle in 2010, the skull of a Nez Perce warrior in 2005, and other artifacts from a college and museum in Ohio in the 1990s.

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Information from: Lewiston Tribune, http://www.lmtribune.com

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