The most vulnerable members of the Wiyot Tribe were asleep the morning of Feb. 26, 1860, when a band of white men slipped into their Northern California villages under darkness and slaughtered them.

Many of the children, women and elderly slain in what became known as the Indian Island Massacre had their eternal rest disturbed when their graves were later dug up and their skeletons and the artifacts buried with them were placed in a museum.

After nearly 70 years of separation from their tribe, the remains of at least 20 of those believed to have been killed have been returned home.

“They’re going to be at peace and at rest with our other ancestors,” Ted Hernandez, the Wiyot Tribe’s historic preservation officer, said Tuesday after the repatriation was announced. “They’ll be able to reunite with their families.”

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