SAN FRANCISCO (AP) – A federal appeals court has restored a lawsuit that sought to have human remains taken from Canyon de Chelly (dih shay) National Monument on the Navajo reservation and held by the National Park Service returned to the tribe.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Wednesday overturned a lower court ruling that dismissed the suit on the grounds that it was premature. The lower court agreed with the park service that it had not yet figured out whether other tribes have cultural affiliations to the remains.
In a 2-1 decision, the 9th Circuit said the park service’s argument was flawed because the Navajo Nation claimed possession of the remains in accordance with a treaty that gave it exclusive use and occupation of Canyon de Chelly, not the inventory process.
A message for a National Park Service spokesman was not immediately returned.