Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Press release #1: NAGPRA Coalition

Corbin Collins


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, and; Governor Schwarzenegger at; UC President Dynes at; and the Board of Regents at 510-987-9220 and

For additional information, visit This press release is posted at, along with tribal resolutions and tools of protest.

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