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State Rep. Buffalo seeks justice for ancestors discovered on UND campus

"The sad fact that our ancestors often were not viewed as human beings because if they were, they would have been held in higher regard" Ruth Buffalo said in response to yesterday's announcement by UND.

Ruth Buffalo
Ruth Buffalo
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GRAND FORKS — Many in Native American communities across North Dakota are grieving and looking for answers.

It comes a day after the announcement from the University of North Dakota, confirming the discovery of sacred objects and remains of dozens of Native American ancestors on the university's campus.

In a virtual meeting yesterday, UND President Andrew Armacost confirmed the findings of 200 boxes of artifacts and 70 remains of Native ancestors.

It has not been confirmed where on the campus the remains were found, but Native American leaders today say most of the artifacts and remains were found in closets stored away.

State Rep. Ruth Buffalo Thursday, who is from the M-H-A Nation, says she learned yesterday a majority of the remains were from the three affiliated tribes in western North Dakota. She says people with connections to the discoveries are finding this deeply personal. The hardest part of all is knowing her ancestors were neglected the respect they deserved.

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"The sad fact that our ancestors often were not viewed as human beings, because if they were, they would have been held in higher regard, not just boxed up in a closet in a higher education institution," Buffalo said, adding there are still many questions that need to be answered as the repatriation occurs.

"How do we work towards justices for our ancestors who were boxed up in a educational institution for decades? How do we continue to move forward in a good way working for justice for our ancestors," she said.

Buffalo is also working with many tribal nations on finding the best steps to show respect for the ancestors who were found. UND has begun its efforts to give the items and remains they discovered back, but say it may take a few years to complete.

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