SAN NICOLAS ISLAND, Calif. — The Navy is turning over hundreds of human remains to a California Indian tribe after determining that the band has a historical connection to one of the Channel Islands.
A report this week in the Federal Register said Navy officials have recognized that the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians has a connection to the history of the island.
The designation means that the remains of 469 people and 436 burial objects that were removed from San Nicolas Island over the last century will be repatriated to the tribe in Temecula, a suburb 75 miles southeast of Los Angeles, according to the report.
The Ventura County Star reports the decision came after more than two years of talks between Navy officials and tribal officials over the Navy-owned island, which is 65 miles off the coast.
"What (this) decision means is that nearly 500 human remains, and hundreds of burial and sacred items will finally be afforded the respect and dignity they have long deserved under federal law," said Pechanga Tribal Chairman Mark Macarro, in a statement released Friday.
The artifacts have been moving around museums throughout the state.