Indian Bones


On a dusty shelf
Old Indian Bones
Take on a life
Of their own

They want to dance
They want to sing
But there’s just one thing
They do not have


A home

Old Indian Bones
Want to be free
Can’t get ’em back
Without I.D.

Filed in a box
No names on top
It’s the only thing
They haven’t got


Maybe one day
Old Indian Bones
Won’t be warehoused
Or be shown

Then they can dance
Then they can sing
The only thing
That matters now is…


Written by Arigon Starr
©1997 Starrwatcher Publishing (ASCAP)
Lyrics reprinted by kind permission.

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One of the few songs we know about based on a congressional act, Bones talks about the 1990 Native American Grave Protection and Repatriation Act. It was supposed to allow tribes to reclaim bones and artifacts from museums and universities. However, as with most legislation, there are strings attached. Tribes must be able to prove these items are theirs through records or other legal documentation.

You know, we don’t think the DMV was issuing driver’s licenses or IDs back in 1700 or 1800’s.

One of the most famous controversies was Kennewick Man.

Hikers found a skull they thought might be a murder victim and reported it to authorities who were shocked to find the skull belonged to a man who lived 9,000 years ago. Dubbed “The Kennewick Man” or “The Ancient One,” there is a struggle by local tribes in the Washington-Oregon area to get back the bones of one of their tribesman. Scholars want to continue to study the bones….and there is the dilemma. Science marches on! Are those bad Indians just impeding major scientific discoveries or trying to lay a relation to rest? Hmm…

If you’d like to read more about it — check out these sites: