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Navajo lawsuit over human remains exhumed from Canyon de Chelly goes before appeals court

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FLAGSTAFF, Arizona — An attorney for the Navajo Nation argued Wednesday for remains exhumed from Canyon de Chelly (dih shay) to be returned immediately to the tribe.

But the National Park Service says it has yet to determine whether other tribes have cultural affiliation with the remains and associated funerary objects.

The two sides presented arguments Wednesday before a panel of the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco. They disagreed over whether the tribe consented to have the items removed from tribal land near Chinle between 1931 and 1990.

U.S. District Judge Paul Rosenblatt had ruled in 2013 that the tribe's lawsuit was premature because the Park Service hadn't identified a final action that would allow it to be sued.

The appellate court didn't issue an immediate ruling.

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