The remains and artifacts within those sites were excavated and put into storage. Then, nothing.
As Cheryl Wittenauer of the Associated Press writes here:
Prehistoric and historic pottery, stone tools, arrowheads, Indian beads, necklaces, earrings and ear spools, and ceremonial artifacts, even human remains, were collected. The items then sat in boxes and paper bags in university museums as well as private basements, garages and tool sheds.
In recent weeks, U.S. veterans – many with traumatic brain injuries or post-traumatic stress disorder – have begun processing, cataloguing, digitizing and archiving the collection as part of a one-year $3.5 million project, funded with federal stimulus money.
It’s part of the corps’ effort to find American Indian cultural items and return them to tribes or their descendants – something all federal agencies must do under a 1990 law. Michael Trimble, chief of curation and archives for the corps’ St. Louis district, said the goal is to get the collection catalogued, digitally photographed and put on the Web for public viewing.
The idea is to help veterans and also meet the requirement to deal with the remains and artifacts – which, he says, would fill 30 semitrailers.
For their part, the veterans involved are enthused about the project.
“This is the best thing that has happened to me since I got out of the military,” Cody Gregory tells Wittenauer. The Burleson, Texas, man works at the Veterans Curation Project’s St. Louis center with a dozen other veterans of the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and even Vietnam. The project’s other centers are in Augusta, Ga., and Washington, D.C.