In this essay, Gina Caison argues that literature by southeastern Native writers can offer new ways to imagine repatriation and return that help scholars think about the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) from a more holistic viewpoint, one that privileges the category of the agentic human dead over the category of the disinterred and often disembodied remains. Within this framework, this article examines two Choctaw novels set shortly after the 1990 passage of the NAGPRA: LeAnne Howe's Shell Shaker (2001) and Louis Owens's Bone Game (1994). Caison considers these two texts within the early nineties political moment in order to understand how they contribute to dialogue regarding the return of human remains following the passage of one of the most important pieces of legislation to affect Native communities' relationship to their pasts. Howe's and Owens's novels offer embodiment to Native human remains, and in doing so, they contribute to an understanding of NAGPRA as a legislation of homecoming with all the attenuating pain such a process can entail. Ultimately, she argues that these literary narratives allow us to retheorize and develop an Indigenous reading of the law that sees past the matter of the dead object into the life of agentic continuance.


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pp. 30-51
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