Ancient Indian Remains Reburied With Dignity

June 24, 2009

Author: Marla Miller

Source: Muskegon Chronicle

The aroma of burning sage, cedar, sweet grass and tobacco swirled into the air at the Old Indian Cemetery Tuesday as about 50 people gathered for the repatriation and reburial of Native American bones.

Native Americans believe burning the cleansing herbs brings good spirits to them, and when smoking tobacco and speaking, the words go directly to God, according to Joseph Genia, a Muskegon resident and member of the Grand River Band of Ottawa Indians, who led the ceremony.

"Grandfather, have pity on us for digging up our relatives and not doing anything about it," he said as part of the closing prayer. "Have pity on us and bless us here in this life."

The centuries-old remains of nine West Michigan American Indians were returned to a proper resting place after a long process led by John McGarry, executive director of Lakeshore Museum Center, and Eric Hemenway, of Harbor Springs.