Monday, November 12, 2007

NANC requests meeting with Provost Hume

For Immediate Release

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.


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