15 June 2009

Smithsonian workers identify Buffalo Soldier's remains

Today's Washington Post carries the story of remains found in New Mexico that were identified and the steps that were involved. The young man was a Buffalo Soldier, one of many African American men who served in the U.S. army in the "west." The bones and skull had to be matched after those from this young man and others had been disturbed. It's unfortunate that people still distub the resting places of those who have gone before us. But the end result of this case is just one more example of how modern scientific methods can help piece history together, not just for Thomas Smith, but for others, too.

The Post article reported "But his grave outside an abandoned New Mexico fort had been violated. His bones were scrambled. And investigators believe his skull, still with most of its hair, became a relic hunter's trophy before it was returned to authorities in a paper bag.

Last month, experts working at the Smithsonian Institution matched the young man's skull with a skeleton exhumed from the fort's cemetery, solving a gruesome mystery of looted graves, purloined artifacts, and life and death on the old frontier.

It was part of a project of the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History and federal land, water and law enforcement agencies looking into the decades-long ransacking of the cemetery outside Fort Craig, in New Mexico."

The story is fascinating -- click here to read it in full.

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