The Army Corps of Engineers’ Memphis District and six Indian tribes signed an agreement Tuesday about the disposition and handling of human remains. Corps archaeologists have identified nearly 250 archaeological sites in the 11,000 acres of the floodway that are most susceptible to flood damage. Dr. Robert Dunn is an archaeologist with the Corps. He says his organization consulted with tribal leaders to reach an agreement that calls for the respectful treatment of human remains.
“It calls for a damage assessment, primarily using remote sensing technology," Dunn says. "It also calls for some on-the-ground inspection. And we’re basically committing ourselves to doing a site restoration for any site that’s damaged as a result of activation of the floodway, for example through scouring, the type of heavy erosion that’s caused by the release of the floodwaters."
Corps archeologists say a minimum of 25 human skeletons were disturbed by last year’s intentional levee breach. They are all Mississippian-era remains that date from the 1400s or early 1500s.
Those remains came from an unknown burial site located beneath the levee. The Corps spent $250,000 on restoration and relocating the levee around the site.