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  • Writer's pictureState Rep. Mark Walker

Walker Passes Bill to Repatriate Native Remains

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Recognizing the rich history of Native American tribes in Illinois as well as the shameful legacy of plundering Native graves, state Rep. Mark Walker (D-Arlington Heights) recently passed legislation that will establish a state process of reburying and repatriating Native remains.

“While I’m very proud to pass this bill, it is long overdue,” Walker said. “Native American tribes are part of Illinois’ foundational history. Our museums and other historical sites currently contain thousands of Native remains and associated artifacts. These remains belong to the tribes, not to the state, and it’s high time we give them back.”

Walker’s legislation, House Bill 3413, will create a process of reburying and repatriating Native American remains and any funerary objects recovered from those graves. It will also establish a Native American Review Group containing the thirty tribes with historic roots in the state – essentially, the descendants of those buried in Illinois – to coordinate these efforts. The bill also creates a designated cemetery in the state not accessible to the public where remains can be buried respectfully and with honors. These efforts build upon Federal requirements for repatriation of Native American remains and cultural items.

“I can’t imagine just how horrible I would feel if someone dug up the grave of my grandmother and stole a necklace she was buried with to be sold as a curiosity, but that’s exactly what we’re talking about here,” Walker added. “Illinois’ past and present are better because of the history and impacts of Native Americans. Reconciling the sins of our past means ensuring these remains are repatriated and reburied with the honor and respect they deserve.”

HB 3413 passed the House unanimously on March 23 and is now in the Senate.


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