• Increase font size
  • Decrease font size
  • Print
  • RSS
  • Repatriations and Reburials

    Since the inception of the Joint Courts Archaeological project and the excavations at the Alameda-Stone Historic Cemetery in downtown Tucson, Pima County was committed to the repatriation and reburial of all human remains and funerary objects recovered from the Cemetery. This commitment to repatriation and reburial included all the human remains and funerary objects excavated during the County funded project conducted by Statistical Research Inc. In addition, this commitment extended to all the human remains and funerary objects housed at the Arizona State Museum that had been excavated in previous decades as a result of burial discoveries during various private developments. The remains of 1,386 individuals and their funerary objects were reburied as a result of this project.

    Based on various lines of evidence, each individual was assessed to determine cultural affinity. The determinations of cultural affinity established to which descendant group the remains and funerary objects would be repatriated, with the exception of burials located in the military section of the Alameda-Stone Historic Cemetery. All the descendant groups agreed that regardless of cultural affinity the individuals recovered from the military section of the Historic Cemetery would be repatriated to the Arizona Department of Veterans’ Services for reburial at their cemetery in Sierra Vista, Arizona.

    Repatriation and reburial activities occurred over a fourteen month period from May 2009 through June 2010, beginning with the military repatriation and reburial in Sierra Vista and ending with the dedication of the memorial at All Faiths Cemeteries in Tucson.

    On May 15, 2009, the human remains and funerary objects recovered from the military section of the Alameda-Stone Historic Cemetery were repatriated to the Arizona Department of Veterans’ Services. In addition, one individual identified as a Buffalo Soldier, the only identified African American in the Historic Cemetery, who was buried just outside the military cemetery boundary, was included with the military repatriation. The 65 sets of remains and objects were transported to Sierra Vista on May 15. The following day, May 16, 2009, Armed Forces Day, the reburial ceremony occurred at Sierra Vista with reburial in a specially designated section of the Arizona Department of Veteran’s Services Cemetery. Photographs of the repatriation and reburial can be seen in the Military Repatriation and Reburial section of this website.

    Through agreement between the descendant American Indian Tribes, the repatriation of the 36 American Indian individuals and their funerary objects not identifiable to a specific tribe occurred on July 29, 2009. The Tohono O’odham Nation took custody of the remains and objects, all of whom were reburied at a later date in a private ceremony on the San Xavier District of the Nation.

    Military Repatriation May 15, 2009

    The military repatriation of human remains and funerary objects from the Alameda-Stone Historic Cemetery occurred on May 15, 2009, at All Faiths Cemeteries in Tucson. The Most Reverend Bishop Gerald Kicanas officiated at the brief ceremony. U.S. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords spoke to those assembled for the ceremony. Congresswoman Giffords also rode her Harley Davidson motorcycle from Tucson to Sierra Vista as part of the motorcycle escort for the remains.

    Approximately 60 veterans attended the ceremony. They draped each coffin with a 35 star U.S. flag before the ceremony began, and loaded the coffins onto U.S. Army trucks for transport to Sierra Vista after the ceremony. Once outside of the Tucson metropolitan area, the motorcycle escort was joined by another 200 riders for the journey into Sierra Vista.

    Photo Gallery

    Alameda-Stone Cemetery - Military Repatriation May 15, 2009

    Military Reburial May 16, 2009

    In Sierra Vista, Arizona, on Armed Forces Day, May 16, 2009, a gathering of over 2,000 people honored and reburied the repatriated military remains and funerary objects, including the lone Buffalo Soldier identified from the Alameda-Stone Historic Ceremony. Active duty members of the U.S. Military participated. Other attendees included Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, other local, federal and state government officials, veterans, re-enactors, Boy Scouts, and citizens.

    Photo Gallery

    Alameda-Stone Cemetery - Military Reburial May 16, 2009

    All Faiths Cemeteries Reburial Ceremony February 2010

    On February 15, 2010, a ceremony was held to honor the first, and all subsequent reburials of individuals recovered from the civilian section of the Alameda-Stone Historic Cemetery. These individuals did not include those previously repatriated for reburial to the Arizona Department of Veterans’ Services, the Tohono O’odham Nation, and the Pascua Yaqui Tribe. The reburial plot at All Faiths was laid out so that each individual would be reburied in the same spatial relationship as it was found relative to other burials when recovered from the Stone-Alameda Cemetery. Consequently, this reburial area replicates the spatial arrangement of burials in the Stone-Alameda Cemetery.

    It was fitting that the first reburial at All Faiths was a child whose cultural affinity could not be determined. The reburial ceremony and the reburial of this child were symbolic for all the following reburials at All Faiths. Because of the large number of individuals, the reburial process was not completed until February 26, 2010.

    Each individual was reburied separately, and each coffin was covered with a specially manufactured concrete liner to prevent future collapse and crushing of the remains. Once the reburials were completed, the plot was covered with sand and capped with natural rock.

    Photo Gallery

    All Faiths Cemeteries Reburial Ceremony February 2010

    All Faiths Cemeteries Memorial Dedication, June 2010

    Following the last of the reburials at All Faiths Cemeteries in late February 2010, a memorial was constructed. The memorial was funded by Pima County. Its primary focus is the reburial area. The memorial walls are designed to evoke the historic angular adobe architecture of Tucson at the time of the Alameda-Stone Cemetery. Artwork on the walls, created by Steve Farley, depicts scenes of Tucson as photographed when the Alameda-Stone Cemetery was in use. The names inscribed in black granite, are the names of those listed as dying in Tucson at that time, and may have been buried in the Alameda-Stone Cemetery. They are taken from the Catholic Diocese Register of Deaths and Federal Census Mortality Schedules.

    The memorial dedication was open to the public, and occurred over two days. Rabbi Thomas Louchheim conducted a blessing on Friday June 25 because of schedule conflicts the following day. The main memorial dedication event was held on Saturday June 26, early in the morning to avoid the heat of the day. Representatives of descendant groups, Los Descendientes del Presidio de Tucson, the Pascua Yaqui Tribe, and the Tohono O’odham Nation, were present. Blessings were provided by Bishop Gerald Kicanas and Reverend John Lille.

    Photo Gallery

    All Faiths Cemeteries Memorial Dedication, June 2010

    Follow UsShare this page

    Pima County, Arizona

    130 W. Congress
    Tucson, AZ 85701

    Phone: (520) 724-9999

    Monday - Friday 8 a.m. - noon and 1 - 5 p.m., except on holidays.


    Department Directory
    Department Feedback Form
    Volunteer with Pima County