During research on Reincarnation, I came across an article in Harvard Magazine about the reburial of the Pecos skeletons and their journey home. These were the bones which resulted in landmark studies of osteoporosis. The skeletal remains of these extinct people were used to prove that exercise strengthens aging bones. The scientific study of the Pecos Bones also made strides in nutrition research, head injuries, trauma, dental cavities, and other diseases. The archaeological dig revolutionized a new system, the Pecos Chronology, for stratigraphically dating sites throughout the American Southwest. The Bones became the foundation of scientific knowledge about the earliest cultures of the Southwest. The Pecos dig was the beginning of American Archaeology.
But I was moved by the personal journey of these bones, who had once lived and breathed. I became curious about the Pecos Indians. I visited the ruins and imagined the story of Return of the Bones. I felt as if the ghosts of Pecos were begging me to bring their pueblo to life between the pages of a book, so they would not be forgotten. I did a lot of research on the Pecos Indians and their Spanish conquerors to make the book as historically accurate as possible.
My story takes place in 1998, which is when the bones were reburied at Pecos.
I also, researched the Native American Graves and Repatriation Act and discovered that there are many, many Native American skeletons still waiting to go home.
How would you feel if your family skeletons were dug up and transported across the country for science experiments? What if your ancestors had been attacked by the United States Army and their heads cut off and shipped to the Surgeon General, who then paid the soldiers a hefty fee for the skulls? Some of my best friends are Native Americans.
Native Americans believe that if the remains are moved from the place of burial, that person will never find rest.
Here's what the Pecos Pueblo originally looked like when the Spanish conquistadors arrived. And here's a picture of an Indian maiden.