True Story of Stolen Remains of Ancestors Inspires New Historical Novel

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In “Return of the Bones” an old shaman and his granddaughter embark on a magical road trip to retrieve their family skeletons. Belinda Vasquez Garcia was touched by the repatriation of 2,067 skeletons from Harvard University to the ghost Pueblo of Pecos.

"Return of the Bones" by  Belinda Vasquez Garcia

"Return of the Bones" by Belinda Vasquez Garcia

Inspired by a true story. You may know these famous bones on which landmark studies proved that exercise prevents osteoporosis!

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“Return of the Bones” (ISBN 1475187424) begins with an old Native American explaining to his granddaughter that she will be the last of the Pecos people once he dies and she has a responsibility to return her family’s remains to their original resting place. “You must search for the others, the ones who were stolen from their graves.” His granddaughter is not inclined to undertake such a journey she believes only a crazy old shaman could dream up. While she has her misgivings, Hollow-Woman finally agrees to drive Grandfather to Boston in what turns out to be a spiritual journey, quest of self-discovery, and an appreciation of family and culture. Her grandfather creates a magical dreamcatcher that occasionally transports her to the past so she can experience her ancestors’ triumphs and tragedies.

“Allowing the reader to see the story of her ancestors as Hollow-Woman does, through the dreamcatcher, is an exciting way to tell history,” Garcia says.

Hollow-Woman and Grandfather learn that their family skeletons have not been idol at the Peabody Museum but were used as research subjects, contributing to medical studies.

Garcia says in 1915, Harvard University archaeologists parted the red earth of the Pecos Pueblo ruins in New Mexico to reveal the graves of a people whose amazing journey from death to research subjects would allow this country to produce a landmark medical study which would influence the health of people throughout the world. Garcia learned that the skeletal remains of these extinct people were actually used in osteoporosis studies to prove that exercise can strengthen aging bones. Medical studies of the Pecos Bones also made strides in nutrition research, head injuries, trauma, dental cavities, and other diseases. The archaeological dig was the beginning of American Archaeology and revolutionized a new system, the Pecos Chronology, for identifying and dating ancient sites. The Pecos Bones became the foundation for scientific knowledge about the earliest cultures of the American Southwest.

While these facts are important to science, Garcia notes that her novel is really intended to tell the story of the Pecos Bones, which were unearthed by archaeologist, Alfred V. Kidder, and transported from the Pecos Pueblo near Santa Fe to Boston, MA. This fictional account, Garcia explains, combines the history of the Pecos Pueblo and its people, while using Native American mysticism, a diary of the archaeology dig, and a sprinkle of her own imagination to tell the story of the eventual return of the bones for reburial.

Garcia says she also introduces into the novel a historical Native American character named Popé (pronounced Po-pay), who was the leader of the Great Indian Pueblo Revolt of 1680, which has been referred to as the first American Revolution. On September 22, 2005, Popé’s statue became the 100th and final statue enshrined in the National Statuary Hall in Washington D.C. Popé was reputed to be a witch by both the Spanish conquerors and Native Americans.

Garcia says she created “Return of the Bones” because of her passion for the Pecos bones and her vow that the world would not forget these extinct people who contributed so much to mankind, and should know the importance of their story.

About the Author: Belinda Vasquez Garcia was born in the Los Angeles area. She read her first novel when she was 7 and has been entranced ever since. After her father abandoned the family and losing her mother at the age of 16, Garcia managed to put herself through school, earning a bachelor’s degree in Applied Mathematics from the University of New Mexico. She worked as a software engineer and in her spare time, honed her craft of writing fiction. She lives in New Mexico and Florida. She is also the author of The Witch Narratives Reincarnation (Land of Enchantment Book 1) and Ghosts of the Black Rose (Land of Enchantment Book 2). The Witch Narratives Reincarnation was Best Fantasy New Mexico / Arizona Book Awards finalist 2012.


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