WILSALL, Mont. — The 12,600-year-old remains of an infant boy were reburied Saturday in a Native American ceremony after scientists recovered DNA from the child discovered in central Montana in 1968.
The boy’s remains were put back as close as possible to the original burial site. Two film crews, about 30 American Indian tribal representatives from Montana and Washington, and others attended the reburial ceremony, The Billings Gazette reported.
“I hope that this is the final closure for you, too, as it is for us,” said Crow tribal elder Thomas Larson Medicine Horse Sr., addressing the family on whose property the child was found.
The DNA taken from the boy provided new indications of the ancient roots of today’s American Indians and other native people of the Americas. It was the oldest genome ever recovered from the New World and proved he was closely related to indigenous Americans.
The boy was between 1 and 1 ½ years old when he died of an unknown cause. Artifacts found with the body show the boy was part of the Clovis culture, which existed in North America from about 13,000 years ago to about 12,600 years ago and is named for an archaeological site near Clovis, N.M.
The DNA also indicates the boy’s ancestors came from Asia, supporting the standard idea of ancient migration to the Americas by way of a land bridge that disappeared long ago.
During the ceremony, Francis Auld, a member of the Salish Kootenai tribe, decried the removal of the remains.
“I can partially agree with the science, if it would benefit the Indian nation,” he said, adding that American Indians have long suffered from the loss of their traditions, language and way of life.
But he ended on a more positive note.
“We’re all in it together today,” he said. “Keep that in your hearts as we go forward here.”