RIVERTON, Wyo. — Central Wyoming College has agreed to stop displaying the remains of a Native American after Fremont County Coroner Mark Stratmoen ruled such displays are illegal.
Former coroner Ed McAuslan allowed the college to perform research on the body of the young woman, which was found near Dubois.
According to federal rules, study is allowed when needed to identify tribal affiliation, but the girl had already been identified as Eastern Shoshone in a 1985 University of Wyoming study.
College anthropology professor Todd Guenther said he didn’t know about the previous identification.
People questioned a documentary television program about the research, including scenes in which footage of the remains were shown. Tribal officials did not return phone calls Saturday seeking comment.
“If you’re teaching students on how to properly do archaeology, you better teach them what the limits of the law are,” Stratmoen said.
Stratmoen said the federal law was intended to ensure that the remains of Native Americans are treated respectfully.
Officials said the college will have to get written permission from the Eastern Shoshone Tribal Historic Preservation Office for any further use of the research materials. The remains will only be shown to registered students and researchers.
Stratmoen said no further legal action will be taken as long as the college complies with an agreement on how to handle the remains.
College public relations director Lori Ridgway declined comment because of legal issues.