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Indian Remains Found Near SD Lake

February 17, 2000

LAKE ANDES, S.D. (AP) _ The remains from an American Indian burial site that emerged weeks ago when water was drained from Lake Francis Case are being reburied.

The collected and bagged remains have been in wooden boxes atop a scaffold overlooking the lake, while Indians prayed over the bones and awaited the designation of a proper burial site.

The remains are to be reburied today on state land recently donated by Gov. Bill Janklow.

Skulls, a spinal column, a child’s ribcage and nearly one complete skeleton were unearthed in December, when the Army Corps of Engineers began letting water out of the lake behind Fort Randall Dam to make room for spring runoff.

They are believed to come from at least seven people.

Members of the Yankton Sioux Tribe in South Dakota have questioned why the remains surfaced nearly 50 years after hundreds of graves were supposed to have been moved for construction of the dam.

Bone fragments were found in the area in the 1960s and early 1990s _ but never to this extent.

The manmade lake behind the dam, finished in 1953, swallowed the area once occupied by the small Indian community of White Swan. The corps also arranged at the time for a funeral home to exhume the remains in 438 gravesites and move them.

Corps archaeologist Sandy Barnum said the recently discovered bones may have come from unmarked graves or from those with wooden markers that had disintegrated or were lost. The earliest burials in the community were in 1883, according to church records. The most recent were 1949.

Tribal members also have complained about what they describe as the Army’s insensitivity in handling the case.

``I thought they had recovered them all,″ said Gene LeRoy, one of about 15 tribal members who kept a vigil at the site. ``I remember standing and watching the remains floating.

``I thought they let our people down.″

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