130-year-old remains reburied in Deadwood

Deadwood, South Dakota (AP) August 2010

A Roman Catholic priest, a Taoist master and a Lakota holy man joined forces to help rebury 130-year-old remains uncovered in the western South Dakota town of Deadwood.

The remains were discovered in 2006 by workers dismantling a retaining wall in a Deadwood neighborhood. They were identified as being either an American Indian or Chinese man. The Chinese worked in Deadwood’s gold-mining industry years ago.

The remains were reburied July 28 in Mount Moriah Cemetery. The ceremony began with a traditional Catholic prayer and scripture reading, followed by Chinese and Native American burial rituals.

“No matter what religious belief you are, whether you’re ... Lakota, Chinese, or even what your faith is, you have entitled burial rights as a human being,” said Terry Gray with the Rosebud Sioux Tribe.

Gilbert Hom with the Chinese Historical Society said officials never considered fighting over the heritage of the remains. Taoist minister Master E-man of Los Angeles added that “No matter who it is, it’s our ancestor.”

“We pray simply with that faith that each one of us has,” said the Rev. Kerry Prendiville of St. Ambrose Catholic Church in Deadwood.

Deadwood Historic Preservation Officer Kevin Kuchenbecker said he was not aware of such a ceremony ever happening before.

“Not only are we protecting our history, but we’re making history as well,” he said.