Friday, November 30, 2007
NATIVE AMERICAN NAGPRA COALITION CONTACTS: Reno Franklin 707-591-0580 Ext 105;
Lalo Franco, 559-925-2831; Radley Davis 530-917-6064;
James Hayward, 530-410-2875; Morning Star Gali 510-827-6719; Bennae Calac, 760-617-2872; Silvia Burley, California, 209-931-4567;
Douglas Mullen, 530-284-7990; Amy Lonetree, 510-593-7729
NCAI, the Nation’s Largest Indian Organization, Condemns UC Berkeley
on Ancestral Remains, Supports Tribal Coalition’s Position
National Congress of American Indians Resolution Rejects UCB’s Elimination
of Repatriation Unit, Subordination of Native Religion to University Research
DENVER, Colorado, Nov. 28, 2007 – The Native American NAGPRA Coalition (NANC) today
strongly endorsed the National Congress of American Indians’ (NCAI) resolution
protesting UC Berkeley’s decision to eliminate its tribally approved NAGPRA unit,
diminish tribal participation and influence in repatriation processes and declare a huge portion of the Phoebe Hearst Museum’s collection of ancestral remains and funerary
objects “to be culturally unaffiliated and thus not subject to tribal repatriation and NAGPRA requirements.” The resolution, which passed without dissent at the NCAI Annual Convention in Denver, also states that the “needs of scientists
and scientific values” at the Museum “must be subordinate to the religious freedom
and human rights of American Indians...” The Museum’s recent reorganization has elevated research goals over Native American entitlements under the Native American
Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA).
The text of the resolution is pasted below and the signed resolution is attached to this email.
Founded in 1944 in response to termination and assimilation policies forced upon
the tribal governments by the United States, NCAI now has over 250 member tribes
across the country. NCAI the largest and most venerable Native American organization
in America, and is best positioned to monitor federal laws, policies and decisions that affect tribal government interests. In this capacity, the organization “strongly
recommends that appropriate authorities immediately undertake a formal investigation
of the Phoebe Hearst Museum…”
In August, the Native American NAGPRA Coalition asked UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert J. Birgeneau to stop the Museum reorganization and meet with NANC to discuss the
past and future of NAGPRA at the Hearst Museum. NANC’s letter protested the
complete and deliberate exclusion of tribal representatives from the reorganization
decision process, the new organizational structure that subordinates Native American religious rights to the goals of science, and the failure of the University to
adequately consult with tribes on the cultural affiliation of ancestral remains and
sacred objects per the requirements of NAGPRA. The Chancellor ignored the Coalition’s request, dismissed the protest as the agitation of a “few disgruntled employees,” and referred all tribal NAGPRA inquiries to subordinates. In spite of a major and successful NANC-sponsored demonstration on the Berkeley campus in October, UC system chief
Rory Hume subsequently ignored similar requests from the Coalition.
“Thus far, the attitude of University officials toward sovereign Indian tribes has been dismissive, discriminatory and paternalistic,” said Ted Howard, Shoshone-Paiute, NANC representative and member of the 30-tribe Great Basin NAGPRA Coalition. “Their primary concern has been to placate powerful scientists who are extremely hostile to NAGPRA and
who want to keep our ancestors for the purposes of research. If UC administrators continue this policy and ignore an organization of the stature of the National Congress of American Indians, they may destroy any prospect of cooperative and positive relationships
with tribes in the future. Native American ancestral remains belong to Native Americans,
and we will not stop until our ancestors are repatriated
and returned to our mother earth.”
Indians regard repatriation as a human rights issue. The right to control ancestral
remains is a basic human entitlement that has been extended to almost every
ethnic group in the United States except Native Americans. Throughout American history, scientists routinely pillaged Native American burials and shipped massive amounts of ancestral remains to museums for scientific study. “It is time to correct
this fundamental injustice,” said Howard.
For additional information on the UCB NAGPRA issue,
visit http://nagpra-ucb-faq.blogspot.com and http://nagpra-ucb.blogspot.com.
N A T I O N A L C O N G R E S S O F A M E R I C A N I N D I A N S
The National Congress of American Indians
TITLE: Support for NAGPRA at the University of California - Berkeley
WHEREAS, we, the members of the National Congress of American Indians of the
United States, invoking the divine blessing of the Creator upon our efforts
and purposes, in order to preserve for ourselves and our descendants the inherent
sovereign rights of our Indian nations, rights secured under Indian treaties and
agreements with the United States, and all other rights and benefits to which we
are entitled under the laws and Constitution of the United States, to enlighten the publictoward a better understanding of the Indian people, to preserve Indian cultural values,and otherwise promote the health, safety and welfare of the Indian people, do herebyestablish and submit the following resolution; and
WHEREAS, the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) was established in 1944
and is the oldest and largest national organization of American Indian and Alaska
Native tribal governments; and
WHEREAS, the Chancellor of the University of California at Berkeley has,
without properly consulting with appropriate American Indian tribes, decided to
discontinue the tribally approved NAGPRA unit dedicated to discharging Universityresponsibilities to tribes under federal NAGPRA laws and regulations
and has movedto place the NAGPRA program within other activities of the Phoebe Hearst Museum of Anthropology, thereby diminishing tribal participation and influence in the existing NAGPRA unit; and
WHEREAS, the needs of scientists and the scientific values of the Phoebe Hearst Museum of Anthropology’s collection of skeletal material and other sacred objects must
be subordinate to the religious freedom and human rights of American Indians
whose ancestors and sacred cultural properties are housed in said collections; and
WHEREAS, The Great Basin Intertribal NAGPRA Coalition (30 tribes) and other tribes have vigorously opposed this action by the University of California atBerkeley; and
WHEREAS, as much as fifty percent (minimum of 5,675 biologicalindividuals (50%) and 69,028 Associated Funerary Objects) of the Phoebe Hearst Museum of Anthropology’s collections
have been incorrectly declared to be culturally unaffiliated and thus not subject
to tribal repatriation and NAGPRA requirements; and
WHEREAS, the decision by the Chancellor of the University of California at Berkeley
places sacred American Indian skeletal remains and artifacts into the hands of
University employees who are inadequately trained in the care and
preservation of such sacred items according to tribal customs and traditions; and
WHEREAS, the NCAI quotes Section C of NAGPRA; Museum means any institution, including institutions of higher learning – colleges, universities etc. or state or local government agencies that possess or has control over Native American collections (human remains or cultural items) and receives funds through grant, loan, contract or other arrangement by which Federal money or assistance is given to a museum for any purpose, are bound by the stipulations of NAGPRA; and
WHEREAS, Section 5 of NAGPRA says, “In general” each Federal agency and each museum which has possession or control over holdings or collections of Native American human remains and associated funerary objects shall compile an inventory of such items and, to the extent possible based on information possessed by such museum or federal agency, identify the geographical and cultural affiliation of such item. Requirements (1) the inventories and identification required under subsection (a) shall be (A) completed in consultation with tribal governments and Native Hawaiian organization officials and traditional religious leaders.
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the NCAI does hereby stronglyrecommend that appropriate authorities immediately undertake a formal investigation of the Phoebe Hearst Museum of Anthropology of the University of California at Berkeley, to determine what provisions of NAGPRA and related federal requirements have been overlooked by the actions and inactions of the Phoebe Hearst Museum and the University of California, Berkeley.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that this resolution shall be the policy of NCAI until it is withdrawn or modified by subsequent resolution.
The foregoing resolution was adopted by the General Assembly at the 2007 Annual Session of the National Congress of American Indians, held at the Hyatt Regency Denver at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver, Colorado on November 11-16, 2007, with a quorum present.
Monday, November 12, 2007
EDITORIAL CONTACTS: Mark LeBeau, 916-801-4422, Mark.LeBeau@CRIHB.NET
COALITION CONTACTS: Reno Franklin 707-591-0580 Ext 105; Lalo Franco, 559-925-2831; Radley Davis 530-917-6064; James Hayward, 530-410-2875; Morning Star Gali 510-827-6719; Ted Howard, 208-759-3100; Bennae Calac, 760-617-2872; Silvia Burley, California, 209-931-4567; Douglas Mullen, 530-284-6135
Native Coalition Challenges UC System Chief Hume to Meet, Repudiate UC Berkeley’s Disrespect, Paternalism, Shutout of Tribes on Ancestral Remains
Coalition Letter Details Four Forms of UCB Exclusion that have Devastated Tribes’
Ability to Retrieve Remains from the Nation’s Second Largest Collection
BERKELEY, Calif., Nov. 1, 2007 – The Native American NAGPRA Coalition (NANC) delivered a detailed letter to Provost Wyatt Rory Hume, interim president of the ten-campus University of California, challenging him to meet with NANC to discuss UC Berkeley’s deliberate exclusion of Native Americans from crucial processes affecting ancestral remains. This exclusion has devastated tribes’ ability to pursue legitimate repatriation claims at the Hearst Museum under the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA). The letter asks Hume to respond by November 16, 2007.
The Coalition turned to Hume after Berkeley’s Chancellor Robert J. Birgeneau ignored a similar request by sovereign tribal governments and social justice allies, refused to reevaluate recent University NAGPRA decisions, and referred all NAGPRA-related inquiries to subordinates who lack the power to make the fundamental changes in repatriation policies. The Coalition letter states, “This arrogance and contempt for tribal governments has not only poisoned the relationship between UC Berkeley and many Native Americans, but threatens to undermine tribal relations with the entire UC system, which has systemwide NAGPRA obligations...”
The letter focuses on four kinds of exclusion that illustrate UCB administrators’ “profound disrespect” for tribes and all Native Americans:
1) Failure to meet statutory consultation requirements on the affiliation of Native American inventories;
2) Exclusion and research bias on repatriation committees;
3) Refusal to consult Native Americans on the elimination of UCB’s tribally approved NAGPRA unit; and
4) The Chancellor’s refusal to meet with sovereign tribal leaders.
The Coalition letter stresses that while the Hearst Museum may temporarily control ancestral remains and sacred objects, control does not constitute ownership. Native American remains and sacred objects belong to Native Americans. Therefore, tribes have the right to participate in the formulation and administration of policies that crucially affect the treatment of their ancestors’ remains. Contrary to the oft-stated University position, NAGPRA administration at UC Berkeley is not merely an issue of “internal management”; tribes have a proprietary standing with respect to the Museum’s Native American collection.
The letter ends with the following cautionary note to Hume: “It is clear that administrators at UC Berkeley, within the larger UC system and Board of Regents, and within educational departments of the state government have developed long-standing relationships and loyalties. Hence, when an issue arises with respect to one administrative division, supervisors at other levels tend to ignore complaints from external parties and rely exclusively and uncritically on ‘reassurances’ from administrators within the division itself. We truly hope you will resist this impulse… If you simply accept the University’s position and refuse to meet, you will engage in the very kind of exclusion that has characterized this process from the beginning. We respectfully ask that you acknowledge the status of sovereign tribal governments and not simply rely on officials within your own.”
Courtesy copies of NANC’s letter will be sent to over 100 federally recognized tribes, the UC Regents, journalists and government officials throughout the state. NANC urges all people concerned with Native American rights to express their support by writing or calling Provost Hume at the University of California Office of the President, 1111 Franklin Street, 12th Floor, Oakland, CA 94607, 510-987-9020.
Wednesday, November 7, 2007
Provost Wyatt R. Hume
University of California Office of the President
1111 Franklin Street, 12th floor
Oakland, CA 94607
Dear Provost Hume:
The American government has a history of betraying solemn covenants with Native American tribes, and this has caused great tragedy and ongoing bitterness and suspicion. Unfortunately, history is repeating itself at the University of California at Berkeley (UCB), and the Native American NAGPRA Coalition is asking you to intervene. We are an association of federally recognized tribes, tribal people and social justice allies who have come together to protest UCB’s violations of both the spirit and letter of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA). Thus far, UCB administrators have been unwilling to hear our concerns or even acknowledge our existence. We regard this treatment as an act of profound disrespect and hope that you will not repeat it.
Sovereignty and Consultation
The United States has a unique legal relationship with American Indian tribal governments defined in history, the U.S. Constitution, treaties, statutes, Executive Orders, and court decisions. Since the formation of the union, the United States has recognized Indian tribes as domestic dependant sovereign nations. Tribes are first nations, and public officials are obliged to acknowledge this sovereignty, especially with respect to laws of vital importance such as NAGPRA. Such laws regulate government to government relations – not simply relations of a single government to its own citizens. When an American governmental institution makes a decision that seriously affects a binding legal relationship with a tribe, that institution has a moral and often legal obligation to consult respectfully with tribal representatives. If the institution abrogates, alters, or reinterprets the law without consultation – or if it fails to make a good faith effort to comply – deeply rooted antagonisms reassert themselves and destroy the basis of trust and respect upon which all future relations depend. Consultation is the key to overcoming historical distrust; when tribes are respected as sovereigns and included in decisions that affect their central concerns, government-to-government relations can be mutually beneficial.
Chancellor Robert J. Birgeneau, Associate Chancellor John Cummins, Vice Chancellor Beth Burnside and other administrators at Berkeley have failed this fundamental test of respect. They have completely and deliberately excluded tribes from crucial decisions affecting Native American ancestral remains and sacred objects; they have refused to reevaluate these decisions in light of tribal guidance; and they have ignored our tribal Coalition’s request to meet and discuss the future of NAGPRA at Berkeley. This arrogance and contempt for tribal governments has not only poisoned the relationship between UC Berkeley and many Native Americans, but threatens to undermine tribal relations with the entire UC system, which has systemwide NAGPRA obligations to tribes. The situation is urgent, and we respectfully ask you to do what the Chancellor refused to do – recognize that NAGPRA regulates government-to-government relationships and meet with tribal leaders to repair the relationship before the damage is irreparable.
Administrators at UC Berkeley present themselves as champions of diversity and inclusion. For example, in a passage on the University website, the Chancellor states:
Inclusion here is not an aspiration; it is an imperative…. We must explore and demonstrate how we can live together and prosper... We must ensure that all of our communities, here and across the globe, benefit from the products of our work. This is what it means to be a public university. This is who we are.
The University’s actions have not matched the Chancellor’s words. Indeed, the University’s NAGPRA policies have been intentionally designed to exclude sovereign tribes and to severely limit and control the input of all Native Americans. This discrimination and paternalism has had a profoundly negative impact on Native Americans’ right to control their ancestral remains, which is a basic human right extended to virtually every other group in our society. Although our grievances are too far reaching and complex to be thoroughly discussed in a letter, they fall roughly under four headings:
1. Non-compliance and failure to consult on NAGPRA inventories. UCB’s Phoebe Hearst Museum houses the second largest collection of Native American remains in the Nation – approximately 12,000 biological individuals – and the largest collection covered by NAGPRA. The law requires the Museum to acknowledge legitimate tribal claims on ancestral remains and sacred objects and return them to the tribes. The University contends that it has complied with NAGPRA. This is untrue, and any certification of compliance was obtained by submitting false information to the certification board.
NAGPRA directed museums to submit an inventory of its Native American collections by 1995, although UCB didn’t finish until 2000. Before submitting the inventory, museums were required to determine which remains and artifacts could be traced to specific tribes. When this was possible, the items were classified as “culturally affiliated” and repatriated. Museums were allowed to keep the rest of the remains indefinitely, which were designated “culturally unidentifiable.” UC Berkeley classified less than 20 percent of its remains and artifacts as culturally affiliated and more than 80 percent as culturally unidentifiable. Some of the remains in the latter category were found in areas not associated with federally recognized tribes, but most were discovered in federally recognized tribal territories.
Although the University has repatriated the culturally affiliated remains, it is out of compliance with respect at least 60 percent of the original collection. This is because NAGRPA also required that museums make a good faith effort to consult with tribes before submitting their inventories and to consider tribal evidence for cultural affiliation. Acceptable evidence could be historical, geographic, linguistic, based on oral tradition, etc., as well as archaeological. The law mandated that the standard for deciding whether remains were affiliated was the “preponderance of the evidence.” This means that all evidence should have been considered before classifying remains as culturally affiliated or unidentifiable. However, UCB did not make a genuine effort to consult with tribes, and hence, did not give tribes a chance to present evidence. To the extent that consultation occurred at all – and usually it didn’t – it was entirely inadequate and did not meet NAGPRA legal requirements. For this reason, Coalition tribes are filing Letters of Non-Compliance with National NAGPRA, and we are urging other federally recognized tribes to do the same. The Coalition and other tribes will also be filing a lawsuit to force the University to reopen the inventory consultation process.
2. Exclusion and research bias on repatriation committees. When a tribe submits a claim on items in the culturally unidentifiable portion of the Hearst collection, the claim has to be adjudicated by two repatriation committees, one on campus and one at the UCOP level. For years the UCB Repatriation Committee has been chaired by an osteologist notorious for his documentable hostility toward NAGPRA, and at the moment, the committee includes three other scientists and no Native Americans. In the past the committee has only included one Native American. The UCOP committee is composed of five research scientists, one attorney, and two Native Americans, one from a federally recognized tribe and one from an unrecognized tribe. UCOP has also recently asked another physical research scientist to represent UC San Diego on the committee.
Scientists often have a professional stake in keeping collections intact for the purposes of research, even when the research violates Native American spiritual beliefs and practices. Hence, they tend to be biased against tribal claims, and the lack of balance in committee membership inevitably leads to biased decisions. Specifically, scientists on repatriation committees tend to ignore the evidentiary standard mandated by NAGPRA, which is “preponderance” rather than archaeological certainty. Hence, even when archeological evidence is inconclusive, the repatriation committees routinely dismiss tribal claims based on the other kinds of evidence deemed acceptable by NAGPRA. The Coalition believes that the repatriation committee system is in need of radical reform: for every scientist on the committee there should be a Native American, and we demand that tribes select the Native American representatives. This latter issue is pressing: the Phoebe Hearst will soon replace the single Native American who was on the UCB committee and who quit in disgust when the NAGPRA unit was eliminated. Administrators should not be allowed to hand-pick a Native American employee who depends on the Museum for his or her job. Tribes should make this selection.
3. Exclusion and the elimination of the NAGPRA unit. Until recently a semi-autonomous unit, which included three Native Americans, administered NAGPRA at the Hearst. The relative autonomy was important because staff members did not have to fear for their jobs if they acted impartially. The independence made it possible for staff to resist undue pressures from Museum administrators and research scientists. Such pressure was constant and can be documented. For example, Edward Luby, the first NAGPRA coordinator, reported in 2000 that Professor Tim White, the osteologist who curates the Hearst’s North American collection and chairs the UCB repatriation committee, “repeatedly harassed and insulted” him and “alleged on several occasions that [Luby] had committed fraud, colluded with federal agencies, and was incompetent.” This kind of pressure was so persistent that former Museum Director Douglas Sharon recommended in 2006 that the administrative control of the NAGPRA unit not only be removed from the Museum but also from the Office of the Vice Chancellor of Research. Yet, in spite of the pressure, the NAGPRA unit’s autonomy enabled staff to withstand researchers and provide fair and comprehensive NAGPRA services. This earned them the respect and appreciation of tribes.
In July of 2007 the University decided to eliminate the NAGPRA unit and “integrate” its functions into the larger Museum. The decision was based on the recommendations of a “committee” composed of two non-native research scientists, both of whom sit on the UCOP Repatriation committee and both of whom have had strained relations with tribes over NAGPRA issues. A group of non-native administrators – mainly scientists – commissioned the review committee, selected its members, and accepted its results without soliciting any input from Native American tribes. The administrators even refused to speak directly with the Native Americans on the NAGPRA unit, and their only input was through brief interviews with the two archaeologists. Prior to the review, the unit Coordinator strenuously protested the complete exclusion of tribal representatives, but her objections were summarily dismissed. In an email inadvertently sent to the wrong person, Vice Chancellor Burnside stated the administration’s position unequivocally: the University should “not go near the idea [that tribes] should be on the review committee. That's an absolute no. Maybe better to stonewall altogether.” The administrators did stonewall, and the subsequent reorganization was exactly what could be predicted from an exclusionary process: the autonomous nature of the NAGPRA unit was eliminated and NAGPRA operations were subordinated to research goals of scientists and the institutional goals of the Museum. As of now, not a single Native American has any significant authority over NAGPRA at the Hearst.
After Vice Chancellor Burnside announced the reorganization, the Interim NAGPRA Coordinator wrote a detailed appeal to Chancellor Birgeneau explaining the importance of the NAGPRA unit, objecting to the exclusion of tribes in the review process, and asking that he meet with the NAGPRA staff to discuss it. In a brief written response, he simply ignored every substantive point in the Coordinator’s letter, said nothing about the deliberate exclusion of tribes, and ignored her request for a meeting. When he dismissed her appeal, he stated: “In complicated matters such as this, it is to be expected that people will have very different views of what is the right course of action.” It apparently did not strike him as the least bit ironic that the only views he considered were those of two white archaeologists and his white subordinates. To this day, Associate Chancellor Cummins completely dismisses the notion that “the organizational efforts are somehow racially motivated and do not serve the interests and needs of the native tribes.” Not a single tribal representative was consulted in the reorganization process, and neither Cummins nor the Chancellor has ever explained why.
We believe tribes were not consulted precisely because the review and subsequent “organizational efforts” were intended to serve the aims of research and the Museum’s institutional goal of keeping the collection intact. The reorganization does not serve the interests of tribes because it destroys the autonomy of NAGPRA services and places NAGPRA operations entirely under the control of white bureaucrats and scientists. Tribal representatives would have understood this and would not have endorsed the archaeologists’ recommendations. Yet the Chancellor, Cummins and Burnside have been completely dismissive of tribal concerns throughout this ordeal. They will not acknowledge the possibility that a genuine conflict of interest can exist between the goals of science and Native American spiritual beliefs. Hence, they ignore the idea that the autonomy of NAGPRA services preserve the integrity, and have never publically addressed this point, even to explain their position. The Berkeley administration’s attitude and behavior falls squarely under the definition of ethnocentrism found in Bulletin 38 of the National Historic Preservation Act: “Ethnocentrism means viewing the world and the people in it only from the point of view of one’s own culture and being unable to sympathize with the feelings, attitudes, and beliefs of someone who is a member of a different culture. It is particularly important to understand, and seek to avoid ethnocentrism in the evaluation of traditional cultural properties.”
4. The chancellor’s refusal to meet with sovereign tribal leaders. UCB administrators not only failed to avoid ethnocentrism in their exclusion of Native Americans, they exacerbated the insult by their subsequent treatment of tribal leaders. On August 6, the Native American NAGPRA Coalition delivered a letter to Chancellor Birgeneau asking that he stop the reorganization, reopen the review process to include tribal representatives, and meet with the Coalition to discuss NAGPRA administration at Berkeley. We have included that letter in a support packet, and you can judge for yourself whether or not it was reasonable and respectful. We asked that he respond by August 17. He ignored us. However, on the evening of the 17th, Andrea Hoch from the Governor’s office called our representative and offered to set up a meeting with the Chancellor. We agreed, and over the course of the next month, we exchanged lists, information and requests with Associate Chancellor Cummins. After dragging the process out as long as he could, Cummins contacted our representative, told him that there would be no meeting, that the reorganization would proceed as planned, and that interactions between tribal representatives and the University regarding NAGPRA would be restricted to discussions with Judson King, the new Museum Director. The Chancellor later reiterated this in a letter to federally recognized tribes: “All communications concerning Hearst Museum activities including NAGPRA matters should be directed to Professor King.” Dr. King, of course, has no power to change the fundamental structure of the reorganization. Ironically, in the very same letter, the Chancellor insists that Professor King would be initiating “conversations” with tribes about the “processing of NAGPRA-related claims and repatriations.” In our view, the Chancellor’s action represents the worst form of paternalism that says, “We know what’s best for Native American people; we’ll decide how their ancestors are treated. The Museum Director will consult with them, but only after we’ve made all of the important decisions, which they are not competent to make themselves.”
Restoring the Relationship
By ignoring tribal governments, Chancellor Birgeneau has disregarded the concept of tribal sovereignty and has insulted Native American people. As representatives of sovereign governments, our tribal leaders have a stature that is, at the very least, comparable to the Chancellor of a University. They expect to meet with someone with the power to make fundamental decisions that can repair a damaged relationship. Chancellor Birgeneau has shown contempt for tribal status, and the Coalition will not settle for someone with less authority. Hence, we are asking you to meet with our Coalition; you have the power to make the relationship whole again, and we urge you to do so.
We hope you do not share Chancellor Birgeneau’s view that the administration of NAPGRA is an “internal management issue.” Nothing could be further from the truth. The University of California is a public institution that is obliged to adhere to the highest standards of non-discrimination. When decisions have an extremely negative impact on a specific community; when that community is deliberately excluded from the decision process; and when that same process heavily favors opposing interests, internal management perogatives must give way to concerns of public justice. Moreover, the University must acknowledge that while its museum may temporarily control ancestral remains and sacred objects, control does not constitute ownership. Native American remains and sacred objects belong to Native Americans. Therefore, tribes have the right to participate in the formulation and administration of policies that crucially affect the treatment of their ancestors’ remains.
After dealing with these issues for several months, one frustrating experience keeps repeating itself. It is clear that administrators at UC Berkeley, within the larger UC system and Board of Regents, and within educational departments of the state government have developed long-standing relationships and loyalties. Hence, when an issue arises with respect to one administrative division, supervisors at other levels tend to ignore complaints from external parties and rely exclusively and uncritically on “reassurances” from administrators within the division itself. We truly hope you will resist this impulse. Although we certainly expect you to call administrators at UC Berkeley for their side of the story, that story is riddled with deliberate falsehoods that attack the character of our members and diminish the import of tribal concerns. We will not take up the details here, but we will certainly respond when we meet in person. However, if you simply accept the University’s position and refuse to meet, you will engage in the very kind of exclusion that has characterized this process from the beginning. We respectfully ask that you acknowledge the status of sovereign tribal governments and not simply rely on officials within your own.
We would appreciate a response to this letter by November 16, 2007. Please contact our Coalition representative Mark LeBeau at 916-801-4422 or firstname.lastname@example.org. We will also distribute courtesy copies of this letter to journalists and to 107 federally recognized tribes. Thank you.
The Native American NAGRPA Coalition: Reno Franklin, the Kashia Pomo Tribe; Lalo Franco, Santa Rosa Rancheria Tachi Yokut Tribe; Bennae Calac, Pauma Band of Mission Indians; Ted Howard, Shoshone-Paiute Tribes of Duck Valley and the Great Basin NAGPRA Coalition; Radley Davis, Advocates for the Protection of Sacred Sites; Douglas Mullen, Greenville Rancheria; Silvia Burley, California Valley Miwok Tribe; James Hayward, Redding Rancheria; Mark LeBeau, Advocates for the Protection of Sacred Sites; Otis Parrish, Kashia Pomo Elder; Dr. Larri Fredericks, Alaska Athabascan; Dr. Mark Hall, archeologist; Dr. Amy Lonetree, Assistant Professor of American Studies, University of California, Santa Cruz, Ho-Chunk Nation of Wisconsin; Jessica LePak, UCB graduate student and Oneida/Mohican; Morningstar Gali, Mills College, Pit River Nation.
CC: 107 Federally Recognized Native American Tribes
Tuesday, October 9, 2007
|EDITORIAL CONTACTS: Mark LeBeau, 916-801-4422, Mark.LeBeau@CRIHB.NET; Corbin Collins, 510-652-1567, email@example.com.|
COALITION CONTACTS: Reno Franklin 707-591-0580 Ext 105; Lalo Franco, 559-925-2831; Radley Davis 530-917-6064; James Hayward, 530-410-2875; Morning Star Gali 510-827-6719; Ted Howard, 208-759-3100; Bennae Calac, 760-617-2872; Silvia Burley, California, 209-931-4567; Douglas Mullen, 530-284-6135.
Triumphant Rally Spurs Tribes and Allies to Escalate Protest Against
UC Berkeley’s Attack on Repatriation of Ancestral Remains
Chancellor Ignores Sovereign Tribes Once Again; Native Americans to Proceed with Lawsuit and Demand Respect from Regents, UC System President
BERKELEY, Calif., Oct. 8, 2007 – After a dramatic demonstration that attracted hundreds of Native Americans, tribal leaders and social justice allies from around the country, the Native American NAGPRA Coalition (NANC) today announced it would escalate its protest against the University of California at Berkeley and the entire UC system. The three-hour rally and Chancellor Birgeneau’s continued refusal to meet with the Coalition have energized Native American opposition to the elimination of the tribally approved UCB NAGPRA unit, the biased UC repatriation committee process, the failure of the University to comply with the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) and the complete disrespect on the University’s part toward Federally recognized tribes.
“Friday’s rally was a remarkable show of unity and support for just Native American claims on our ancestors’ remains and sacred objects,” said Mark LeBeau, a citizen of the Pit River Nation and NANC spokesman. “We intend to build on the momentum and take our protest to the courts, Congress, the state legislature, the Regents and the new acting UC system president, Rori Hume. Berkeley’s Chancellor Birgeneau has snubbed tribal nations multiple times, and now refers us to his assistants. We will not negotiate with underlings. We will not tolerate disrespect, and we expect California public officials to repudiate it as well.”
Friday’s demonstration was prompted by Chancellor Birgeneau’s original refusal to meet with NANC concerning the elimination of the Hearst Museum’s autonomous NAGPRA unit. This unit was a highly trained, cohesive team that fairly and impartially administered federal NAGPRA and a soon-to-be-implemented state law (AB 978) affecting the second largest collection of Native American ancestral remains and sacred objects in the Nation. NANC strenuously rejected the University’s decision-making process, which deliberately and completely excluded Native Americans, and denounced the anti-NAGPRA bias in the resulting organizational structure. Over the last several months, however, NANC has also recognized that the problems are far broader and more systemic, and include the lack of fair Native American representation on repatriation committees, the failure of UC to meet NAGPRA-mandated tribal consultation requirements, and the system’s unwillingness to acknowledge that Native American ancestral remains belong to Native Americans. The Coalition will adopt a comprehensive and aggressive strategy to deal with all of these problems.
The demonstration started at noon on Friday in UC Berkeley’s famous Sproul Plaza, the birthplace of the Free Speech Movement. It began with prayers and traditional healing ceremonies; included passionate speeches and poems from tribal leaders and other Native Americans; and was interspersed with ceremonial drumming and singing. After an hour, a throng of hundreds marched peacefully to California Hall to again request a meeting with the Chancellor. The Chancellor was “unavailable.” Assistant Chancellor Beata FitzPatrick emerged briefly from the building to say, without apparent irony, “Our Chancellor has very great respect for native peoples.” She accepted the Coalition’s petition, and the group then moved on to the faculty glade, a former site of a Native American village. After a brief ceremony, the march continued and ended with a demonstration in front of the Phoebe Hearst Museum, where the remains of over 13,000 Native Americans are stored in basement drawers and boxes.
NANC members urged other tribes to join the Coalition and all Americans to insist that public officials redress the longstanding injustice that allows Museums and scientists to keep huge collections of Native American remains and conduct research that violates tribal religious beliefs.
Tribes and individuals can add their voices by contacting congressional and state representatives; by writing or calling Provost Rori Hume at the University of California Office of the President, 1111 Franklin Street, Oakland, CA 94607, 510-987-9020; or by writing or calling the Governor and other University Regents at the addresses listed at http://www.universityofcalifornia.edu/regents/contact.html.
For additional information on the UCB NAGPRA issue, visit http://nagpra-ucb-faq.blogspot.com and http://nagpra-ucb.blogspot.com.
Friday, September 28, 2007
Native Americans & Social Justice Allies to Rally at UC Berkeley to Protect Native Ancestral Remains & Sacred Objects
Where: Sproul Plaza at UCB
When: October 5, 2007 at High Noon
Berkeley, CA—All Native American people and social justice allies are urged to attend and bring signs to a vocal and peaceful demonstration designed to protect Native ancestral remains and sacred objects currently housed at the University of California, Berkeley (UCB). UCB is attempting to terminate the critically important Tribal consultation and Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) program at the university. This tribally-supported NAGPRA program was developed in accordance with federal and state laws and is a semi-autonomous unit within the Hearst Museum. NAGPRA is a federal law that mandates federally funded museums to conduct an inventory of and identify Native human remains and cultural items in their collections. In addition the museum is charged to consult with culturally affiliated Indian tribes, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians regarding repatriation. The NAGPRA program at UCB is responsible for insuring the museum complies with the Act and repatriate items when appropriate.
The Native NAGPRA Coalition has been calling for a meeting with UCB Chancellor Birgeneau for months to resolve the problem. Staff of Governor Schwarzenegger’s Office have also been attempting to assist in scheduling the meeting. Yet, the highest ranking UCB official refuses to meet.
“Although the long-standing program has completed a number of NAGPRA-required tasks, there is still a great deal to be accomplished,” said Reno Franklin, Member of the NAGPRA Coalition and Kashia Pomo Tribe. “The decision to cut the program was based on a biased report written by two archeologists who represent research interests that often conflict with tribal claims on the museum’s collection of ancestral remains,” he added.
“Prior to the decision to cut the tribally-supported NAGPRA program at UCB proper and timely notice was not afforded to the tribes,” said Radley Davis, Member of the Coalition and Pit River Nation. “This act of tribal exclusion is intolerable and demonstrates the overall museum’s and Vice Chancellor’s significant lack of commitment to and respect for the living tribal people of the Americas and their deceased,” he added.
“The progressive NAGPRA program supported by the tribes is being replaced with a substandard service more to the liking of the archaeologists whom wrote the report,” said James Hayward, Member of the Coalition and Redding Rancheria. “If the substandard service is allowed to be implemented, UCB and tribes will lose the only qualified program for fair and objective consultation and documented research on repatriation issues,” he added.
“The UCB is a public institution that is obliged to adhere to the highest standards of non-discrimination,” said Lalo Franco, Representative of the Coalition and Santa Rosa Rancheria Tachi Yokut Tribe. “When a decision has an extremely negative impact on a specific community; when that community is deliberately excluded from the decision process; and when that same process heavily favors opposing stakeholders, internal management prerogatives must give way to concerns of public justice,” he added.
“The reorganization must be stopped and the review process must be reopened to include Natives,” said Morning Star Gali, Member of the Coalition and Pit River Nation. She continued, “UCB must: 1) acknowledge that while the Hearst Museum may temporarily control ancestral remains and sacred objects, control does not constitute ownership; 2) recognize the importance of the traditional and spiritual significance of ancestral remains and sacred objects to tribes; 3) strike a just balance between the interests of Natives and scientists; 4) acknowledge that the goals of NAGPRA and the goals of the Museum are distinct and should not be confused; and 5) understand that NAGPRA is not just one more Museum “activity” that can be blurred with other priorities in ways that trivialize its profound importance to Natives.”
NAGPRA became Law on 11/16/90. It applies to any institution or State or Local government agency that receives Federal funds and has possession of Native American cultural items, including human remains.
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
Artifact repatriation in doubt with UC Berkeley changes
By Kimberly Ross (Contact)
Thursday, September 6, 2007
Changes at a University of California at Berkeley museum, which holds the nation's second-largest collection of American Indian remains and artifacts, have raised questions among local tribes interested in regaining those items.
Corbin Collins, a Berkeley-based writer opposing those changes, spoke before several Redding-area tribal and human-rights representatives Wednesday at the Wintu Tribe of Northern California office in Redding.
Collins described a reorganization effort at UC Berkeley's Phoebe Hearst Museum as "the fox guarding the henhouse."
Department alterations relied on the opinions of archeologists and scientists, and excluded input from American Indians, including three in the museum's unit, he said. He fears the new setup will hamper tribes' future repatriation efforts.
"Scientists don't want to give back their (museum's) remains. They want to keep them and do research on them," he said.
Campus spokeswoman Marie Felde said by phone that tribes can expect the opposite from the restructured department.
Wednesday, September 5, 2007
If asked to enumerate their human rights, I doubt that most Americans would mention the right to control their dead. This is not because there is no such right; rather, the entitlement is so basic and universally extended that it is hardly recognized as a "right" by most people.
But suppose America were occupied by a foreign invader whose scientists pillaged our cemeteries and shipped our ancestors' remains home for research. I have little doubt that most Americans would regard this as a fundamental violation of human rights and dignity.
The United States, of course, allowed this to happen to its indigenous people. Although our government acknowledged almost every other group's spiritual and legal claim to their dead, for much of American history it did not extend this basic human entitlement to Native Americans. Huge quantities of their ancestral remains and sacred objects were shipped to research institutions such as UC Berkeley's Hearst Museum, which houses the second largest such collection in the nation. In 1990, Congress tried to redress the injustice by passing the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA), which requires museums to repatriate human remains and sacred objects to tribes.
Friday, August 31, 2007
Friday, August 24, 2007
Mr. Corbin Collins,
My name is Douglas Mullen and I'm the NAGPRA/Cultural Coordinator for Greenville Rancheria (GR). GR is a Federally Recognized Tribe of with Members whom reside through out the United States. GR is the lead Tribe organizing the Sierra Nevada NAGPRA Coalition (SNNC), (Penutian Language) consisting of 52 Tribes and Indian organizations.
Thus far GR has been successful in Repatriating Human remains to Lalo Franco, Cultural Recourse Specialist, Tachi-Yukot Tribe Santa Rosa.
Greenville Rancheria has also drafted and sent a letter to Chancellor Birgeneau expressing our concerns with the disbandment of the NAGPRA Unit UC Berkeley.
With the closure process that has taken place. We (The Native American People) were not given the opportunity to voice our concerns and the effect that the closure would have.
I’m writing this letter to express Greenville Rancheria's support for the work that the Native American NAGPRA Coalition (NANC) has undertaken. Also the Greenville Rancheria would like to know how to become a member of the NANC.
Banding together as a single Coalition will give the Native American People a stronger voice that will be heard. As Indian People we have worked to hard and come too far to take steps backwards with issues like this concerning Native Americans in Indian Country.
Nathan McNeal, Tribal Council Secretary/Treasure
Douglas Mullen, NAGPRA/Cultural Coordinator
Michael DeSpain, Environmental/NAGPRA Project Director
Gabriel Gorbet, Tribal Administrator
Sunday, August 12, 2007
Decision on the Native American graves Protection and Repatriation Act
(NAGPRA) Program at the University
WHEREAS The Stewart Point Rancheria, Kashia Band of Pomo Indians is reconized
as a sovereign government by the United States of America, and
WHEREAS The tribal Business Committee of the Kashia Band of Pomo Indians is duly
authorized body, empowered to conduct government affairs on behalf of the people and
to promote and foster the economic development and the well being of the general
WHEREAS The Tribal Business Committee as the representative governing body of the tribe,
is responsible for the health and well being of the tribal membership, and
WHEREAS: The Kashia Band of Pomo Indians is a Native American tribe with a vested and legal
interest in NAGPRA programs and activites within the boundaries of the State of California;
WHEREAS: The Vice Chancellor of the University of California at Berkeley has, without
properly allowing for comment or review in the decision making process by Native Americans,
decided to discontinue the NAGPRA unit dedicated to discharging University responsibilities
to tribes under federal and state NAGPRA laws, and to blend the NAGPRA program into
activites of the Phoebe Hearst Museum which thereby diminishes its stature
and program effectiveness; and,
WHEREAS: The decision places Native American remains and artifacts into the hands of
employees who are archaeologically and culturally untrained in the care and preservation of
NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Kashia Band of Pomo Indians of the Stewarts Point
Rancheria through its Tribal Business Committee does resolve that it opposes said decision
and formally submits that said decision be stayed and implementation reversed until such
time as an appropriate review of the decision, by a committee including substantial representation from California's Native American Tribes can be conducted and concluded
with proper recommendation to the University.
This is to certify that the foregoing Resolution was adopted at a duly called meeting
of the Stewarts Point Rancheria Business Committee at which a quorum was present
on this 3rd day of August, 2007 by a vote of 7 for, 0 against, and 0 abstaining.
Ralph Sepulveda, Tribal Chairman
Dino Franklin, Secretary
Tuesday, July 31, 2007
RE: Elimination of the UC Berkeley Phoebe Hearst Museum’s NAGPRA Unit
Dear Lieutenant Governor Garamendi,
Please receive our greetings. We respectfully request that, as an Ex Officio member of the University of California Regents and one of the few rational holders of public office, you give serious consideration to this letter requesting your assistance. We also request that you have it distributed to other members of the Board of Regents.
The International Indian Treaty Council (IITC) is a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) with Consultative Status before the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). Formed at a gathering called by the American Indian Movement at Standing Rock, South Dakota in 1974, the IITC was the first Indigenous NGO accorded Consultative Status, in 1977. Our mission, as determined by our founders, is to work internationally for the Sovereignty and Self Determination of Indigenous Peoples and the recognition and protection of Indigenous rights, Treaties, Traditional Cultures and Sacred Lands. It is in this role that we write to you, joining many California Indian Tribes, recognized and not recognized, as well as organizations and individuals protesting the disbanding of the NAGPRA Unit of UC’s Phoebe Hearst Museum.
As you may be aware, NAGPRA, the Native American Graves Protection Act, Public Law 101-601 of November 16, 1990, establishes that federally recognized Native American tribes have the right to reclaim items known as Objects of Cultural Patrimony, Associated Funerary Objects, Unassociated Funerary Objects, Human Remains, and Sacred Objects. NAGPRA mandates that all federally recognized Native American tribes be given an inventory of items that they may be repatriated and restored.
It is important to recall that the foundation of California’s prosperity, the Gold Rush, is a history of the broken bodies of hundreds of thousands of massacred and enslaved Indians and the destruction of their traditional cultures and ways of life. Even as slavery was being repealed it was legal in California to buy and sell Indians. Historical accounts reveal that young boys sold for $60 and young women for as much as $200, that 4,000 Indian children were bought and sold. The “new” State of California paid out over one million dollars in both 1851 and 1852 to those encouraged to hunt Indians. It is not mere rhetoric to recall that in 1863 rewards were paid, – ranging from $5 for every severed head in Shasta, to 25 cents for a scalp in Honey Lake. I am enclosing a copy of “Gold Greed and Genocide (see www.1849.org),” an historical account, prepared for California’s “celebration” of the Gold Rush, of the true history of Indians in California Their only “legacy” is enslaved and massacred grandparents, the loss of land, languages song, and ancient ceremony. Poisonous mercury from that time still pollutes all major waterways of Northern California down to San Francisco Bay. For Northern California Indians whose means of subsistence continues to be fish, that legacy continues to kill and debilitate Indians.
With the relatively recent advent of a handful of Casino tribes, the now Governor of California called for Indians to “pay their fair share. Given this history, we would ask, “their fair share of what”? It is the State of California that owes a historical debt to those relatively few who survived and who only now are beginning to reclaim their languages, their spiritual and cultural traditions, their environment and their lands - with little or no help from the Great State of California. But as California casino tribes are now paying anyway what have Indians gotten in return?
The Phoebe Hearst Museum web site proudly announces that they have possession of over three million “objects of material culture.” Among those “objects” are a great many, hundreds if not thousands of human remains that are categorized as “unaffiliated” and “unidentified.” It is clear that the University is violating both the spirit and intent of NAGPRA. It is doing away with a small two person team that only recently began its work in earnest with Tribes to identify and restore these remains for a decent and humane burial in keeping with tribal spiritual ceremony and culture.
This is more than a humanitarian issue. It is an issue of freedom of religion and our internationally recognized human right to practice our traditional religions. In his 1998 visit to the United States, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Religious Intolerance found that:
“The Native Americans are without any doubt the community facing the most problematical situation, one inherited from a past of denial of their religious identity, in particular through a policy of assimilation, which most Native Americans insist on calling genocide (physical liquidation, religious conversion, attempts to destroy their traditional way of life, laying waste of land, etc.).”1
In his report, the first United Nations examination of United States attitudes and responses to the human rights of the American Indian, the Special Rapporteur also found that NAGPRA was indeed an issue of importance to the religious human rights of Native Americans:
“As far as legislation is concerned, while noting advances in recent years in the instruments emerging from the legislature and the executive which are designed to protect Native Americans' religion in general (American Indian Religious Freedom Act) and in particular (Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, Executive Order on Indian Sacred Sites, Executive Memorandum on Native American Access to Eagle Feathers), the Special Rapporteur identified weaknesses and gaps which diminish the effectiveness and hinder the application of these legal safeguards. Concerning the American Indian Religious Freedom Act, the Supreme Court has declared that this law was only a policy statement. As for the Executive Order on Indian Sacred Sites, unfortunately, it does not contain an "action clause", leaving the tribes without the needed legal "teeth". Higher standards or the protection of sacred sites are needed and effective tribal consultation should be ensured. These recommendations are all the more necessary in light of the October 1997 Advisory Council on Historic Preservation regulations and the January 1997 bill (see paragraph 59 (a) and (b) above). Concerning the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act of 1990, it is apparent that its coverage was too limited; it is of the utmost importance that concrete solutions be found to solve the repatriation conflict between the scientific community and tribal governments. It is also essential to secure genuine de jure and de facto protection of Native American prisoners' religious rites.”2 (Emphasis supplied)
Little has changed since the Special Rapporteur’s visit to the United States and his litany of violated spiritual and religious human rights. Given the historical record and this report on the sad state of human rights in this country particularly with regard to Native Americans and their right to practice their religion, we would hope that the Board of Regents would examine and reverse the University’s decision to terminate the NAGPRA Unit. Notwithstanding United States international human rights obligations we believe UC should at least comply with the law. And NAGPRA is the law.
We note that at a recent meeting of the Regents, much was said about enrollments of African Americans and Hispanics. Nothing was said about Native American enrollment. As far as we can tell there are no Native Americans on the Board of Regents Although Indians are invisible in California, we exist. We would ask that the Board of Regents heed our call for human rights and for the dignity and proper burial of our grandparents.
For all our relations,
Alberto Saldamando, General Counsel,
International Indian Treaty Council
cc: Andrea Carmen, IITC Executive Director
1 U.N. Doc. E/CN.4/1999/58/Add.1, Report submitted by Mr. Abdelfattah Amor, Special Rapporteur, in accordance with Commission on Human Rights resolution 1998/18, 9 December 1998 Addendum, Visit to the United States of America, paragraph 53.
Monday, July 30, 2007
C/o Designated Federal Officer
1849 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20240
Mary Bomar, Director
National Park Service
1849 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20240
RE: Alleged violations of Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act by the University of California Berkeley
Dear Federal Officer and Director Bomar,
Beth Burnside, University California Berkeley (UCB) Vice Chancellor, has reportedly decided to terminate the critically important Tribal consultation and Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) program at the university. The Vice Chancellor is supported by Kent Lightfoot, archaeologist and Director of UCB’s Phoebe Hearst Museum, Tim White, paleontologist and Chair of UCB’s repatriation committee, and others. The tribally-supported NAGPRA program at UCB was developed in accordance with federal and state NAGPRA laws and is a semi-autonomous unit within the Phoebe Hearst Museum. It is responsible for conducting an inventory of and identifying Native American human remains and cultural items in their collections, and charged to consult with culturally affiliated Indian tribes, Alaska Native villages and corporations, and Native Hawaiian organizations regarding repatriation. Although the program has completed a number of NAGPRA-required tasks, there is still a great deal to be accomplished. The decision to cut the program was based on a biased report written by two archeologists who represent research interests that often conflict with tribal claims on the museum’s collection of ancestral remains.
Prior to the decision to cut the tribally-supported NAGPRA program at the university proper and timely notice was not afforded to the tribes. This act of tribal exclusion is intolerable and demonstrates the overall museum’s and Vice Chancellor’s significant lack of commitment to and respect for the living tribal people of the Americas and their deceased. The progressive NAGPRA program supported by the tribes is being replaced with a substandard service more to the liking of the archaeologists whom wrote the report.
If the substandard service is allowed to be implemented, UCB and tribes will lose the only qualified program for fair and objective consultation and documented research on repatriation issues. The new substandard service will be supervised by museum staff members who are not qualified to make decisions regarding Native issues. The staff’s primary responsibilities include promoting the museum, preserving the collections, and serving the needs of research scientists, not protecting Native human remains and cultural items.
We bring to the attention of the Secretary of the Interior that UCB’s museum has failed to comply with NAGPRA rules and regulations, specifically Section 9-43 CFR 10.12(b)(vii). The museum failed to consult with lineal descendants, Indian tribe officials, and traditional religious leaders as required. We urge the Secretary to conduct a thorough investigation of NAGPRA violations by UCB and to motivate Chancellor Birgeneau to meet with the tribes to discuss the issue and to maintain the existing NAGRPA program at the university until consultation with tribes can occur.
Also, given the short timeline for the sun setting of the tribally-supported NAGPRA program, we are requesting the involvement of the NAGPRA Review Committee which was established under the law "to monitor and review the implementation of the inventory and identification process and repatriation activities." Committee members are appointed by the Secretary from nominations by Indian tribes, Native Hawaiian organizations, traditional Native American religious leaders, national museum organizations, and scientific organizations. The Committee works to ensure that information on compliance with the law be maintained and makes annual reports to Congress and hears disputes on factual matters to resolve repatriation issues. Clearly the tribes and UCB’s Museum have a major repatriation issue that needs to be resolved.
According to UCB published reports, the university’s museum houses thousands of human remains and artifacts. The Sponsored Projects Office of UCB reports that each year the university receives substantial grant support for research and public service projects from federal and state agencies and other sources.
We look forward to receiving a written response from you and participation in the implementation of a resolution suitable to tribes and other parties under NAGPRA.
Radley Davis, James Hayward, Mark LeBeau
cc: Senator Feinstein, Senator Boxer, Senate Indian Affairs Committee, Joe Garcia (NCAI President), Jacqueline Johnson (NCAI Executive Director)
AT BERKELEY: University dissolves unit that restored remains and art to tribes.
The Associated Press
Published: July 30, 2007 Last Modified: July 30, 2007 at 09:41 AM
JUNEAU -- Groups in Alaska are criticizing a California university's decision to eliminate the unit that restores Native artifacts to their original owners.
Native leaders worry the move at the University of California, Berkeley will delay or prevent the return of artifacts to tribes and clans under the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act.
The university's Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology boasts the second-largest collection of Native American remains and items in the country, including hundreds of Northwest Coast art and Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian objects.
My impression is that this is one of the few museums where the staff is what we call the 'old guard,' " said Bob Sam, an elder and expert in human remains and burial site restoration, in Sitka. "They have very strong feelings that these items shouldn't be turned over to the Native people, but that they should be kept in a safe environment.
read it all at http://www.adn.com/news/alaska/story/9174976p-9091615c.html
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
TRIBES JOIN FORCES AGAINST UC BERKELEY’S DECISION AFFECTING NATIVE AMERICAN ANCESTRAL REMAINS
Five-tribe NAGPRA Coalition Rejects Discrimination in DecisionProcess, UCB’s Complete Deference to Research Scientists
BERKELEY, Calif., July 25, 2007 – Representatives from five Native American tribes – sovereign governments under Federal law – today announced the formation of the Native American NAGPRA Coalition (NANC) to protest the University of California at Berkeley’s elimination of the Phoebe Hearst Museum’s autonomous NAGPRA unit. This unit is the highly trained, cohesive team that fairly and impartially administered the Federal Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) and a soon-to-be-implemented state law (AB 978) affecting the second largest collection of Native American ancestral remains and sacred objects in the Nation. NANC strenuously rejects the University’s decision-making process, which deliberately and completely excluded Native Americans. The Coalition requests that Chancellor Robert Birgeneau immediately stop the Museum reorganization, reopen the review process, and meet with the Coalition to determine how to proceed. The Coalition also encourages other tribes to join the protest.
The University accepted the recommendations of a review “committee” that consisted of two non-native research archeologists who have vested professional interests in keeping museum collections intact. The committee did not include tribal representatives, and the University did not solicit the direct input of the autonomous NAGPRA unit, which includes three Native Americans. Under the Museum reorganization, University research scientists who have frustrated NAGPRA compliance in the past will gain complete control over NAGPRA operations. Contrary to University claims, genuine NAGPRA services will be significantly cut. Several tribal governments have already adopted formal resolutions denouncing the University’s decision and demanding that it be reversed.
The five tribal representatives on the Coalition are:
Reno Franklin, of the Kashia Pomo Tribe;
Lalo Franco, of the Santa Rosa Rancheria Tachi Yokut Tribe;
Bennae Calac, of the Soboba Band of Luiseno Indians;
Ted Howard, of Shoshone-Paiute Tribes of Duck Valley and the Great Basin NAGPRA Coalition; and Reg Elgin, of the Dry Creek Band of Pomo Indians.
NANC includes the following adjunct members:
Mark LeBeau, of Advocates for the Protection of Sacred Sites;
Otis Parish, Kashia Pomo Elder;
Dr. Larri Fredericks, former Interim NAGPRA Coordinator and Alaska Athabascan;
Dr. Mark Hall, archeologist;
andJessica LePak, UC graduate student and Oneida/Mohican.
NANC emphasizes that the meeting it requests be substantial rather than merely informational. “We are not requesting an ‘explanation’ of what the University regards as an established fact,” said Coalition and tribal member Larri Fredericks. “We expect to play an equitable role in determining the facts. The University must show tribes the respect due sovereign governments, reopen the review process and start over.”
“The University demonstrated a complete lack of respect for the Native American voice,” said Coalition and tribal member Mark LeBeau. “Not a single Native American was represented on the review committee or among the administrators who commissioned the review and accepted its recommendations. Inevitably, the recommendations reflected the discrimination in the review process. Not one Native American will have significant authority in NAGPRA operations at the Phoebe Hearst. I hope tribal councils and anyone who believes in fair representation for all people will join our protest.”
Supporters can add their voices by calling NANC volunteers at 510-652-1567 and by contacting Chancellor Birgeneau at 510-642-7464, firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com; Governor Schwarzenegger at firstname.lastname@example.org; UC President Dynes at Robert.Dynes@ucop.edu; and the Board of Regents at 510-987-9220 and email@example.com.
For additional information, visit http://nagpra-ucb-faq.blogspot.com/. This press release is posted at http://nagpra-ucb.blogspot.com/, along with tribal resolutions and tools of protest.
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska Resolution
Title: NAGPRA Restoration of Funding for University of California Request
WHEREAS, Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska (Central Council) is a federally recognized tribe of more than 26,000 tribal citizens; and
WHEREAS, the Native American Graves Protection Act (hereafter referred to as NAGPRA) PUBLIC LAW 101-601- NOV. 16, 1990 gives the various federally recognized Native American tribes the right to reclaim items known as Objects of Cultural Patrimony, Associated Funerary Objects, Unassociated Funerary Objects, Human Remains, and Sacred Objects; and
WHEREAS, This law mandated that all federally recognized Native American tribes be given an inventory of items in these categories to said tribal organizations; and
WHEREAS, this has opened a door of communication between numerous museum and Native American Tribes in consultation, repatriations, and ongoing dialogue; and
WHEREAS, the University of California Berkeley ((UCB) Phoebe Hearst Museum has successfully repatriated an Object of Cultural Patrimony back to the Tlingit people; and
WHEREAS, the collection of this museum at over 800 objects only Tlingit items, not counting other Native American Tribes that objects in this museum, leaves many more questions and claims to be submitted on these remaining items should they be deemed as such by the tribe(s); and
WHEREAS, the University of California Berkeley has recently decided to end the NAGPRA program at the museum at the behest of archaeologist and ignoring the importance of the anthropologists and the work already accomplished; and
WHEREAS, the University of California Berkeley is known to be in the forefront of the fight for human rights and causes and the NAGPRA law is one such area for human rights and dignity;
BE IT RESOLVED that the Central Council Tlingit & Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska objects to the disbanding of any NAGPRA committee or work at the Phoebe Hearst Museum; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Central Council Tlingit & Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska will submit as it's next NAGPRA Consultation Visit, a visit to the Phoebe Hearst Museum to review its collection; and
BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED that the Central Council Tlingit & Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska asks that the powers that be at the University of California Berkeley, take whatever steps necessary to restore funding for NAGPRA staff and reviews that museum and keep it an ongoing program for the benefit of all people.
ADOPTED this day of 2007, by the Executive Council of the Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska by a vote of 6_ yeas, __nays, ___abstentions and ___absence(s).
CERTIFY President William E. Martin
ATTEST Tribal Secretary Dana Leask Ruaro
Office of the Chancellor
200 California Hall #1500
University of California
Berkeley, CA 94720-1500
RE: NAGPRA Unit
Dear Chancellor Birgeneau:
Susanville Indian Rancheria (SIR) is a federally recognized Indian Tribe located in Northeastern California. The tribe is comprised of four distinct Tribes: Maidu, Paiute, Pit River, and Washoe. The Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology (PAHMA) houses thousands of human remains that are related to us. SIR has created a NAGPRA Coalition that consists of Tribes from Northeastern California and the Great Basin Members from the Northeastern California NAGPRA Tribal Coalition (NECATNC) have visited the PAHMA on several occasions, as we are diligently working to repatriate the ancestors. Those Tribes that have officially signed on with the NECATNC are:
Washoe Tribe of Nevada and California
Reno-Sparks Indian Colony
Maidu Cultural Development Group
Lovelock Paiute Tribe
Pit River Nation
Winnemucca Indian Colony
Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe
Fort Bidwell Indian Community
Fallon Paiute-Shoshone Tribe
Susanville Indian Rancheria
On behalf of all members of the NECATNC we vigorously urge you to reverse the decision made to disband the NAGPA unit. It is our understanding that this decision was made based on a report written by two archaeologists who represent research interests that conflict with Tribal claims on the Museum's collection of ancestral remains. The review was conducted with only a few days notice, without Tribal notification and consultation! Despite insistence from Larri Fredericks, Ph.D., Interim NAGPRA Coordinator, that Native Americans be represented, her concerns were bypassed!
We feel that we have built a strong relationship with the PAHMA and the NAGPRA unit. The NAGPRA team consists of highly qualified people and they understand the cultural sensitivity that exists between Native Americans. NAGPRA issues require people who have specialized training on Native American Culture and NAGPRA. The PAHMA has the responsibility to care for our ancestors, artifacts, and cultural items, and they have worked very hard to build that trust with us. It would be a tragedy and an insult to disband the NAGPRA unit. We urge you to reconsider, to avoid a disastrous mistake that will be an injustice to Native Americans and will damage the University relations with Tribal Governments. If you have questions or comments you may contact Melany L. Johnson, Cultural Resource Specialist, at 530-251-5633 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mr. Stacy Dixon
SIR Tribal Chair
Cc: NECATNC Members
SIR Tribal Government Liaison Committee
Melany L. Johnson, SIR
Larri Fredericks, PAHMA
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
Chancellor Robert Birgeneau
200 California Hall
University of California at Berkeley
Berkeley, CA 94720
Re: Proposed Changes in the Current NAGPRA (Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act) Consultation Staff and Process at the University of California, Berkeley
Dear Chancellor Birgeneau:
On behalf of the Fallon Paiute Shoshone Tribe and the Great Basin Intertribal NAGPRA Coalition, we wish to protest UC-Berkeley’s dismantling of the current NAGPRA consultation process and staff at the Phoebe Hearst Museum. We formally oppose any such effort to dismantle the staff and process with whom we have previously been working toward the repatriation of our ancestral remains and burial items which are sacred to our people. This decision is based on past experiences with the University’s NAGPRA Program which until the recent past was negative and disheartening.
In 1990 NAGPRA was passed to remedy the long history of horrific treatment of Native American human remains and cultural items which unfortunately continues to this day. The Great Basin Inter-Tribal NAGPRA Coalition is a culturally based organization representing over 30 Tribes that works for the return of our ancestors that were disrespectfully and immorally removed from their eternal resting place within our aboriginal homelands.
The Great Basin Inter-Tribal NAGPRA has met and worked with several facilities throughout the United States which include not only the Pheobe Hearst but also Harvard’s Peabody Museum, the Museum of Man, the Southwest Museum, University of Nevada Las Vegas and the Nevada State Museum just to name a few. Unfortunately until recently our experience with the Phoebe Hearst has been less than favorable and in my opinion the most difficult of all of our facility relationships.
In 2004 the Fallon Paiute Shoshone Tribe received a NAGPRA Grant on behalf of the Great Basin NAGPRA Coalition. One of the grant objectives was to review the Great Basin NAGPRA Collections of the Phoebe Hearst and work toward the repatriation of the remains of our ancestors and cultural items which unfortunately resulted in a disappointing and unsuccessful visit. The staff at that time was unaccommodating and the Tribal representatives unfortunately were unable to view the collections and were informed that the Tribe needed to do their own research of the collection which is held throughout several facilities and libraries throughout the campus. The Phoebe Hearst is the only institution that has ever denied our Tribes access to their collection and unfortunately is the only institution that would not share their site information or provide staff familiar with the
collection and/or the university research system to work in concert with the Tribal representatives to address our NAGPRA related questions, inquiries, and requests.
Based on the culturally insensitive treatment of our Tribes by the Phoebe Hearst staff during the April 2005 meeting, our Tribal representatives (including Tribal elders) were left with opinions that 1) the institution did not want to share the collection, 2) NAGPRA is not a priority 3) the institution obviously operates in a secretive manner focused only of sciences and violates the university’s mandate to fulfill the stipulations of NAGPRA.
In 2006, the Fallon Paiute Shoshone Tribe received another NAGPRA Grant on behalf of the Great Basin Inter-Tribal NAGPRA Coalition to address a variety of repatriation issues which includes another attempt to address NAGPRA issues within Phoebe Hearst. In October 2006 we once again traveled to the Phoebe Hearst and were welcomed with a much different and accommodating staff. Three research representatives from our Coalition traveled and spent one week filtering through information in an attempt to determine the contents of the collection which included item identification, site records, and other pertinent site information. For the first time we were assisted by individuals who were not only culturally sensitive but familiar with the collections and the university system. The staff shared the process required by the UC System and for the first time wanted to hear our concerns and frustrations with our previous consultation efforts. They wanted to know how they could improve the process which would not only benefit the Tribes but also the University in their efforts to meet the mandates required under NAGPRA.
During the week of May 26, 2007 we traveled to the Phoebe Hearst and were finally able to view the collection. As the process was not perfect it was much improved and the Tribal spiritual leaders and Tribal staff were finally able to view the remains and some of the cultural items, after a two year process. Throughout this process we discovered that the vast majority of the remains taken from our homelands were determined to be “culturally unidentifiable” or “culturally unaffiliated” without any evidence or explanation to support the determination. Through our review of the documentation it is evident that Tribal Consultation had not taken place while the inventory was being established or after the inventory was completed. It is apparent that the inventory is incomplete and that due to time frames for completing the inventory many of the remains were categorized under the blanket terms of “unaffiliated” or “unidentifiable” despite site records, geographic descriptions, associated objects and other museum information which support affiliation. We discussed this issue with the NAGPRA staff and were informed that they are aware of our observations and as they continue to work thorough the collection and the University process they will work to make the necessary corrections as mandated by NAGPRA.
During this same visit we were informed that their NAGPRA program was being reviewed however we were not informed that the university intended to eliminate the program after the progress we were finally making.
I normally do not get involved with personnel issues however I have read the report by Ms. Larri Fredericks and your response which based on our past experiences is not only disheartening but it has created serious distrust in the Tribes that I represent in the University and their implementation of NAGPRA. The ethnocentric review and action taken with the program without any input from Native American staff or representatives who have worked with the program and are directly impacted demonstrates that the University is only concerned with the research and science and not the human rights of Native peoples. Based not only on this recent action but also those actions of the past, the Great Basin Tribes are seriously considering calling for an official investigation of the University’s collections and management procedures to insure that the stipulations of federal law are being complied with.
The current staff has worked hard to finally gain the respect and trust of Tribes and although the process is not perfect, they have worked hard to comply with the stipulations of NAGPRA and gain our respect and trust. We believed that the University hired scholarly Native staff to bridge the gap between the Tribes and the University because of their scholarly knowledge as well as their familiarity with Tribal traditions and beliefs. We now believe that your current dismantling and public hiring of a new director for the Museum reflects an effort by professional archaeologists at Berkeley and elsewhere to prevent the repatriation of human remains and artifacts back to the Tribes to undermine the stipulations of NAGPRA. As a matter of record, we object to our ancestral remains being classified as “unaffiliated” or “unidentifiable” since we do not believe there are any “unaffiliated” or “unidentifiable” remains in the Great Basin. We believe that the current staff that you are now dismantling is sensitive to the Tribes in these matters, because of their familiarity with American Indians and their cultural heritage.
Because of the working relationship the Tribes have established with the NAGPRA implementation staff of the Phoebe Hearst Museum, we strongly recommend that the current NAGPRA program and staff administering the Phoebe Hearst Museum collections be not only restored but strengthened and that all culturally sensitive materials and ancestral skeletal remains from the Great Basin be promptly repatriated without further bureaucratic/pseudo-scientific claims. Your actions are a definite step backward from the humanitarian success we as Tribes have been able to achieve in the passage of NAGPRA. UC Berkley prides itself on being a protector of human rights, but based on our past experiences both negative and positive, this step to eliminate culturally sensitive staff that have a working knowledge of the collection demonstrates that the University believes that the human remains are the property of the University for scientific purposes and that the human rights of our ancestors are once again put behind the interests of science.
We expect a prompt response concerning this matter as it is of the gravest concern to us, our ancestors and our future generations. If you have any questions regarding this issue please feel free to contact me at the address below or by phone at (775) 423-6075 ext. 246.
Rochanne L. Downs, Vice Chairwoman
Fallon Paiute Shoshone Tribe
cc: Great Basin Inter-Tribal NAGPRA Coalition
National Park Service NAGPRA Program
NAGPRA Review Committee
Saturday, July 14, 2007
The letters come with text and email addresses. All you have to do is paste the text into separate emails, paste the email addresses into the “To” and “CC” lines of the email (paste the whole group at once), and put your name after “Sincerely” at the bottom. One letter is to the Governor and Attorney General and one is to the Chancellor. The CCs are to various other government and University officials.
Please do this. It is very important.
Letter 1 (Governor, State Attorney General):
CCs: Lt.Governor@ltgov.ca.gov; email@example.com; Senator.Perata@senate.ca.gov; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; Robert.Dynes@ucop.edu; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org
This letter concerns an urgent matter of critical importance to Native Americans.
Please help us reverse UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau’s decision to disband the highly trained, cohesive team that impartially administers federal and state NAGPRA laws affecting the second largest collection of Native American remains and artifacts in the nation. Native Americans care deeply about the treatment of this collection, and many will not rest until their tribe’s remains are returned and reburied. The Chancellor has completely stonewalled our protests so that “facts on the ground” can take over before Native Americans can react.
The Chancellor’s decision-making process was secretive, sudden, and completely and deliberately excluded all tribal representatives and UCB’s expert NAGPRA unit, which includes three Native Americans. The decision was recommended by a two-man “review committee” consisting of research scientists who have vested professional interests in keeping Native American collections intact and a history of negative relations with tribes. Under the Museum reorganization, scientists with research interests will completely control all NAGPRA operations. All fair and impartial tribal consultation will cease and genuine NAPGRA services will be seriously cut.
Please help us stop the NAGPRA coup! Please ask that the Chancellor:
1. Immediately stop the NAGPRA reorganization
Thus far, the Chancellor and all University officials have refused to meet with Native Americans and refused to acknowledge and justify the discriminatory decision-making process. We have never relinquished our right to speak for ourselves and did not authorize the University to represent our interests. Please insist that the Chancellor stop stonewalling and give an equal voice to Native Americans, the true stakeholders in this issue.
For more information, please call 510-652-1567 or 510-457-8569.
NAGPRA Autonomy = NAGPRA Integrity!
Letter 2 (Chancellor):
“CC”: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; PAHMA-Director@berkeley.edu; firstname.lastname@example.org
Dear Chancellor Birgeneau:
This letter concerns an urgent matter of critical importance to Native Americans.
Please reverse your decision to disband the highly trained, cohesive team that impartially administers federal and state NAGPRA laws affecting the second largest collection of Native American remains and artifacts in the nation. Native Americans care deeply about the treatment of this collection, and many will not rest until their tribe’s remains are returned and reburied. Thus far, you have completely stonewalled our protests so that “facts on the ground” can take over before Native Americans can react.
The University’s decision-making process was secretive, sudden, and completely and deliberately excluded all tribal representatives and UCB’s expert NAGPRA unit, which includes three Native Americans. The decision was recommended by a two-man “review committee” consisting of research scientists who have vested professional interests in keeping Native American collections intact and a history of negative relations with tribes. Under the Museum reorganization, scientists with research interests will completely control all NAGPRA operations. All fair and impartial tribal consultation will cease and genuine NAPGRA services will be seriously cut.
Please stop the NAGPRA coup! We respectfully ask that you:
1. Immediately stop the NAGPRA reorganization
Thus far, you and all University officials have refused to meet with Native Americans and refused to acknowledge and justify the discriminatory decision-making process. We have never relinquished our right to speak for ourselves and did not authorize the University to represent our interests. Please stop stonewalling and give an equal voice to Native Americans, the true stakeholders in this issue. I will be sending a similar letter to the Governor, Attorney General Brown and other officials.
NAGPRA Autonomy = NAGPRA Integrity!
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