More than 130 years later, the remains of two Native American boys are going home with the Northern Arapaho Tribe to Wyoming. The U.S. Army reunited the tribe with the remains of Little Chief and Horse, known by their American names as Dickens Nor and Horace Washington, this week after they were disinterred at the Carlisle Barracks Post Cemetery. But the remains of a third boy, Little Plume, also known as Hayes Vanderbilt Friday, will not be going with them.
Dr. Elizabeth DiGangi, a forensic anthropologist, said, “That was a difficult afternoon in the laboratory obviously when my assistant and I, we looked at the remains and we just knew.”
The Army’s archaeological team uncovered the three grave sites and examined the bones inside.
They discovered the remains in Little Plume’s gravesite were not biologically consistent with the sex and age of the 10 year old when he died.
DiGangi said, “That was really difficult knowing that the families were 50 feet away, and I was about to have not very good news for them.”
Michael Trimble, the chief archaeologist for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, said, “We just sat under the tree in the center of the cemetery and talked probably over an hour.”
Those remains in Little Plume’s coffin were re-interred.
Art Smith, with Army National Military Cemeteries, said, “You never know what you’re going to find until you open a gravesite.”
Experts said the boys most likely were killed by infectious diseases more than 130 years ago. They attended the Carlisle Indian Industrial School and were buried in the cemetery that was eventually controlled by the Army.
DiGangi said, “They were kids who went very far away from home, and they died thousands of miles from home, and their families never saw them again. And I think we have to think about how we would feel if that were our teenage son.”
The tribe will take the remains of Little Chief and Horse back to Wyoming back to Wyoming to re-bury them at a reservation.
Smith said, “We would like to thank the tribe for their tremendous strength, patience and understanding during this unprecedented and very difficult time in their lives.”
Smith said they have not received any more requests from other tribes for disinterment at the cemetery.