Engaging with Descendant African American Communities: A Project to Rebury Ancestral Human Remains of African Descent

November 21, 2023

The Maryland Commission on African American History and Culture (MCAAHC) and the Maryland Historical Trust (MHT) have launched a project aimed at identifying lineal descendants or communities that are culturally affiliated with the remains of at least 15 individuals of African or possible African descent that are currently housed at the Maryland Archaeological Conservation Laboratory (MAC Lab) in Calvert County, Maryland.

This collaborative project, entitled, “Engaging with Descendant African American Communities” will use genealogical records, land record research, and potentially DNA testing to identify a path forward for returning these remains to the earth in a manner consistent with the State of Maryland Regulations for the Transfer of Human Remains and Associated Funerary Objects. The project will actively engage with descendant communities in an ethical and inclusive manner and will result in a plan for the respectful reburial of the remains that recognizes their cultural importance and historical legacy.

A working group consisting of Commissioners of the MCAAHC and staff from the MHT are collaborating on a plan consistent with state regulations that will permit these remains to be laid to rest. This is an important and innovative project that is expected to serve as a model for other institutions that include Non-Native human remains within their collections.

If you have information about African American communities associated with the sites noted above or have an interest in being kept up to date on project activities and findings, please provide your information here.

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