Theft of ancient bones a ‘debacle’ for National Park Service

A 1990 theft of historically significant Native American remains by a national monument superintendent entrusted with protecting them was larger and more harmful than previously acknowledged.

After decades of investigations and cover-ups, the case is scheduled to end in a federal courtroom Friday when retired Effigy Mounds National Monument superintendent Thomas Munson is sentenced for carrying out the theft.

The 76-year-old has apologized and hopes to avoid prison time.

But documents obtained by The Associated Press under the Freedom of Information Act point to wider problems at the federal park along the Mississippi River in northeast Iowa. They show that several superintendents were warned that the museum’s entire collection of human bones had gone missing under Munson, but did little to find them and failed to notify affected tribes.

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