TVA to return remains taken from Native American graves in Alabama, other states

Published 4:53 pm Wednesday, March 29, 2023

The Tennessee Valley Authority is taking steps to return the ancestral remains of nearly 5,000 Native Americans, according to federal records.

The TVA filed notice in the Federal Register for publication Wednesday that it intended to repatriate all ancestral remains and associated funerary objects it possesses, the Knoxville News Sentinel reported. The remains and associated objects were removed from their original resting places in Tennessee, Kentucky and Alabama.

TVA has identified ancestral remains of at least 4,871 Native Americans and 1,389 lots of objects that the utility corporation believes were placed with or near the ancestral remains “at the time of death or later as part of the death rite or ceremony,” the notice said.

The process of repatriation allows tribes and descendants to take possession of the remains and associated funerary objects. The TVA said the remains would be available for return on or after April 29 and it listed 21 tribes that could make requests.

If competing requests are filed, TVA would determine “the most appropriate requestor.”