Sunday, December 14, 2008

Prof. Tim White on NAGPRA and the events of 1995

Some more e-mail turned over by Ms. Sandra Harris for the State Senate hearings on February 26, 2008. Click on the images above to read Professor Tim White's views on NAGPRA and the events of 1995 (For another version of those events read the Luby report at ).

Sunday, October 19, 2008

"Appropriate" Native Americans

In the Spring 2008 issue of Catalyst (V. 3, No. 2), Robert Birgeneau says:

Says Birgeneau about King’s role, “At my request, Jud stepped into this difficult situation as interim director of the Hearst Museum. He has been extraordinarily effective in this role and now has us on a track which promises to resolve many of these problems; this includes especially seeking out appropriate Native American input.

NANC is intrigued on how Mr. King--a chemical engineer and University administrator--determined which Native American tribes had appropriate input and which ones did not? Was it based on the amount of human remains from their traditional tribal territory, or some other criteria? Or was it ones who agreed with Mr. Garcia's statement? Or did the input come from just Native Americans employed by the University? Why hasn't Mr. King invited input from all tribes which have human remains housed in the musem? Are he and the Chancellor worried they may hear something they don't like?

Anthony Garcia on Repatriation

In the minutes of the 37th Meeting of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Review Committee meeting, it is noted in the Public Comment section that:

Mr. Garcia stated that he regularly has Native Americans tell him that human remains in the museum were from their tribe but they did not want them to come back to the tribe.

(see )

NANC would like to ask Mr. Garcia, which Native American tribes he has heard this from? Further, we would also like to ask if Mr. Garcia has totally forgotten his meetings/consultations with the Great Basin Coalition, the Tachi Yokuts, and Susanville Rancheria? Admittedly, these occurred before he became NAGPRA Coordinator, but one has to ask was he sleeping at the time of those earlier consultations?

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Letter to UC President Yudof

This a copy of the recent letter sent by the Great Basin Intertribal NAGPRA Coalition (GBITNC) to UC President Mark Yudof. (Left click on the image to see it full-size.)

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Press Release from the Tribal NAGPRA Alliance

Reno Franklin, Kashia Pomo Tribal Council Member, 707-591-0580, ext.105; James Hayward, Redding Rancheria, 530-410-2875; Radley Davis, Pit River Nation, 530-917-6064; Mark LeBeau, Pit River Nation, 916-801-4422

Tribal Reps. Call on US Senate Indian Affairs Committee to Conduct Hearings on National Park Service and UC Berkeley (UCB) Transgressions of Native American Graves Protection & Repatriation Act (NAGPRA)

Indian Country, Calif.—A recent financial review conducted by the Nat. Assoc. of Tribal Historic Preservation Officers and the Makah Nation on the National Park Service’s (NPS) use of NAGPRA funds, reveals that the agency has used more than $3 million in Tribal Government grants for purposes not covered by the law. NAGPRA authorizes the federal government to provide funds to Tribes to help them recover their ancestors and cultural property and to museums to assist them in repatriation.

The financial report, released on 8/14/08, indicates that the decision-makers of the NPS have used NAGPRA funds to support their administrative costs and other interests, including funneling money into the legal system to pay attorney fees to support scientists against Tribes in the Kennewick Man repatriation lawsuit. The report lists public data showing that from 1999 to 2007, Congress appropriated $21.9 million but the NPS only awarded $18.8 million to Tribes and museums. NPS took $221,000 from the program in 2002, $250,000 in 03, $255,000 in 04 and $342,111 in 05, $473,112 in 06 and $463,718 in 07. An additional $680,000 was taken in 05 to pay attorney's fees to the scientists who sued the federal government to study the remains of the Kennewick Man.

The number of repatriation grants awarded each year to Tribes has declined since 1999 as more funding is being inappropriately taken from the program by the NPS, while the need of Tribes to repatriate remains high.

In a related matter, Tribal reps. strongly recommend Robert Birgeneau, University of California Berkeley (UCB) Chancellor, recommit to the dispute resolution strategies entered into between Tribes and the University since their meeting in April 2008. Tribal peoples have been concerned for decades about the UCB’s lack of effort to return their ancestral remains to their families for reburial. UCB warehouses over 10,000 Native skeletal remains in boxes in its Hearst Museum basement. UCB continues to refuse to consult with Tribes on their return as required by NAGPRA, especially those the University lists as “culturally unidentifiable”. Tribal peoples know their ancestral relatives, even if UCB does not. UCB must recommit to consulting with Tribes on the repatriation of these Native human remains.

UCB decision-makers informed Tribal reps. that their recommendation to remove a highly undesirable osteologist of the college from handling Native remains and participating in decisions related to repatriation would be honored. However, Tribal advocates have recently learned that this unwanted osteologist is back conducting business as usual. In this situation, UCB is highly disrespecting and dishonoring these deceased as well their living descendents.

Tribal reps hand-delivered a letter to Chancellor Birgeneau outlining many of their concerns and asked him to respond in writing and provide appropriate remedies. The Chancellor agreed to provide the response and the remedies within a couple of months. It has been six months and the Tribal reps are still waiting for him to fulfill these commitments. Among other details, the Tribal letter sites a report written by UCB staff and other evidence indicating that UCB scientists were not conducting their work in compliance with NAGPRA. A passage from the UCB report states:

“...virtually all human remains yet to be inventoried were determined
to be culturally unidentifiable, with no evidence supplied as to why this
was the case. Even more serious, however, and contrary to statutory
language, the inventory was not associated with evidence that consultation
with Indian Tribes had taken place, nor were associated funerary
objects listed. In addition, this inventory did not accurately reflect the
museum’s documents, and the descriptions of the
geographic and cultural affiliation of the human remains
listed were insufficient.”

In light of the ongoing National Park Service and UC Berkeley transgressions of NAGPRA, the Tribal NAGPRA Alliance is calling on the US Senate Indian Affairs Committee to conduct hearings on the transgressions and work to ensure these federally-funded entities comply with the law.

Friday, September 26, 2008

The "Luby" Report

A digital copy of the July 18, 2000 report by Dr. Ed Luby to Vice Chancellor Cerny
"Administrative Update on Compliance with the Native American Graves Protection and
Repatriation Act (NAGPRA)" is now available on-line at

This report describes how UC Berkeley got into forbearance, what they
did to get out of it, and the possible consequences thereof. This report was made public during the State Senate hearings on February 26th, 2008.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Prof. Nelson Graburn's concerns

Below is an e-mail submitted to the State Senate hearings on February 26th, 2008 by Ms. Sandra Harris. (As always, why is she submitting Kent Lightfoot's email to the State Senate?)

Left click on the message to read it full size

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The PR Dept. & Freedom of Speech in the UC system

Below is an e-mail message that was submitted to the California State Legislature by Vice-Chancellor Beth Burnside's office. This was for the hearing on February 26th, 2008 on the disbanding of the NAGPRA Unit at the Hearst Museum of Anthropology at UC Berkeley.
After reading this message, one has to wonder when it became standard operating procedure for the faculty and staff in the UC system to loose their rights to have a dissenting opinion? Does working for UC mean that one gives up their right to criticize the actions of the UC system? One also has to wonder why the PR people are so concerned if there is a dissenting voice from within the UC system? (Left click on the message to read it full size.)

What Happened with the American Anthropological Association?

This is just another e-mail submitted by Sandra Harris, Vice-Director of the Hearst Museum as evidence to the State Senate Hearings on February 26th, 2008. Once again, we have to ask, why is she reading the Director's email and submitting it as evidence? We also have to ask, was their an investigation from the American Anthroplogical Association? (Click on the image above to see it full size.)

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Consultation After the Fact?

UC has steadfastly argued that they compiled and filed the inventories in accordance with Federal law. Yet, one of the documents submitted to the State Legislature for the February 26th, 2008 hearing draws this stance into question. One has to wonder why they are asking for money to do consultation in January 2001, after the inventories were filed with the Federal government.

Which tribes did come in for consultation? Which tribes had consultation after the inventories were filed?

(Click on each image to see it full size)

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

The WAC--archaeology as usual?

To the left is a scan of a document submitted to the State of California hearings by Sandra Harris, Vice-Director of the Hearst Museum of Anthropology. (Click on it to see a full, readable image.)

While the WAC (World Archaeology Congress) says it has special interest in protecting "the cultural heritage of Indigenous peoples", one wonders if they sent similar messages to other stakeholders? If so, who?

Also, one has to ask why the Vice-Director is reading the Director's email and submitting it as evidence?

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Statement by Otis Parrish

I am here to tell you what happened with the NAGPRA Unit at the Hearst Museum in May and June of 2007. It is hard for me to speak about this because what occurred was a breach of friendship and a violation of trust and honor. My tribe, the Kashia Pomo, and my relations have all given much to the Phoebe Hearst Museum and UC Berkeley. We have opened our tribe to working with Berkeley students and have hosted and been a part of the Fort Ross project. We have given freely of our knowledge, of our tribal ways, and have trusted in ties of friendship and respect. The University simply threw this away. Native Americans and a unit which fairly administered NAGPRA were lied to and treated with contempt and disrespect. This is not how you treat Native people, and it should not be how you treat any people.

The “outside review,” which was conducted on the NAGPRA unit on May 16th, 2007, was orchestrated in secrecy by the upper administration at the university and deliberately excluded Native Americans and tribal representatives. The review was a ruse, performed for these purposes alone: to rid the Museum of the autonomous NAGPRA unit, to turn control of NAGPRA over to research scientists and to take over NAGPRA funds. As a result, the Native American interests in the repatriation of their ancestors will not be fairly or adequately addressed. It is hard to stand up against the powerful when you have little power yourself. But we believe it is our duty. The Director of the Museum Kent Lightfoot, Deputy Director Sandra Harris, Vice Chancellor Beth Burnside, and Associate Vice Chancellor Robert Price all worked in secret to eliminate the NAPGRA unit, and with it, truly impartial NAGPRA services. They didn’t consult with the very people at the University who had the most knowledge and experience with both tribes and NAGPRA. And when we asked for Native American tribes to be represented on the review committee, the answer from the Vice Chancellor was an ABSOLUTE NO! Why? I can only assume that they believed tribes would reject their decision.

California Tribes…and all tribes were described by administrators such as Price as “outsiders”…with no relevant knowledge or experience in museums. Remember NAGPRA is a human rights issue – not a “museum efficiency issue” – and it was designed to give us a chance to repatriate our ancestors and rebury them as they deserve. No other Americans have had their ancestors’ graves pillaged and their bones taken away to museum shelves, to be researched on at the whim of scientists. The remains at the Museum belong to NATIVE AMERICANS, and yet the administrators say we have NO right to be included in policy decisions affecting our ancestors. This is ARROGANCE and this is RACISM…and it should not be permitted.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Testimony by Larri Fredericks

{Testimony to the California State Senate Committee on Governmetal Organization given by
Dr. Larri Fredericks on 2/26/2008. The full hearing is available from the Committee and can
be requested in writing from Suite 584, 1020 N Street, Sacramento, CA}

It is also my feeling that the “outside review” was orchestrated in secrecy, deliberately
excluded all Native Americans and tribal representatives for the sole purpose of getting rid
of the existing NAGPRA unit and reorganizing NAGPRA into the museum. The reorganization will subordinate NAGPRA services to the museum administration and further solidify the power of the Repatriation Committee’s involvement in the daily operation of NAGPRA and how it
conducts business. NAGPRA will now be caught between the proverbial rock and a hard place.

NAGPRA is an important issue at the Phoebe Hearst because they hold the largest collection
of Native American skeletal remains in the nation (only the Smithsonian has a larger
collection and they don’t come under the NAGPRA law). The operations of NAGPRA, in order to
serve the best interests of ALL, should be transparent, be in a neutral place and Native
American tribes should be represented. These are after all Native American remains…what
other group in America does not have a right to speak for their dead?

As tribal representatives on this panel will confirm, there has been a history of strained
relations between tribes and the museum in the past over NAGPRA. When I became Interim
NAGPRA Coordinator, I was determined to change this, and Otis Parrish and Mark Hall were
fully supportive. The way we wanted to change it was not by showing favoritism toward
tribes, but by listening to them, taking their requests seriously and treating them fairly,
and giving them the recognition that was required as the basic stakeholders in the process.

We did not want to “give away the store”; but we recognized that Native American ancestral
remains belonged to Native Americans. Our goal was to assist tribes understand the subtle
details of archival review, documentation, archaeological data, and so on, so they could
access and provide all of the legitimate evidence to present their claims to repatriation
committees that required extensive and detailed evidence based claims. We gave them the
tools: knowledge and access to the collections, the documents, and the libraries, including
the Bancroft.

We succeeded in gaining the confidence of many tribes, so much so that they rallied to our
support after the reorganization was announced. They sent countless letters of support and
protest to the Chancellor, passed tribal and National resolutions, joined coalitions, and
did a myriad of other things. How did we achieve this trust? By acknowledging the importance
of the repatriation of their ancestors, by treating them fairly and for bringing forth their
concerns and desires to the museum. Operating with at least semi-autonomy allowed us to
bring fourth their concerns and to ensure that collections in consultation were not accessed
for research, to remove exhibits from sites in consultation that were considered sacred
sites and to ensure that policy included their interests. At times this angered people in
the Museum, and, according to the Bettinger/Walker “review,” some of these people complained
that our relationships were “dysfunctional.” I should note, however, that Bettinger and
Walker did not interview most of the museum staff with whom we regularly worked and with
whom we had very positive relations. But more important, sometimes integrity requires making
people angry, sometimes we could not fairly and impartially administer NAGPRA, a federal
law, without stepping on Museum toes. I also feel that most of the staff at the museum was
supportive of the NAGPRA Unit and our actions.

On the other hand, we acted above and beyond our NAGPRA duties to help the Museum establish positive relations with tribal communities and with Native American organizations on campus. We assisted with outreach and educational programs, organized California Indian Day events, hosted the Summer Rez program for Indian undergraduates, mentored Anthropology graduate students and accepted two Native American interns, obtained funding from the City of
Berkeley for the Native California Cultural Gallery, and begged Museum administrators to
actually change the contents of that gallery (it had stayed the same for 6 years) and to
hold a major Native American exhibition (there hadn’t been one for many years, and none was
planned for many more).

No management official ever informed me or anyone on my staff that we were not performing
effectively. In fact, we were often praised by Museum Director Kent Lightfoot. No one ever
asked us how we might better integrate our activities into museum functions without
sacrificing the integrity of NAGPRA services. Hence, we were completely blindsided by the
sudden review and by the announcement of the reorganization only a few weeks later. No one
consulted us, and when we asked that the tribes be represented on the review committee, we
were answered with an “Absolute no.” I agree entirely with Otis Parrish: the review was a
set up, intended to give legitimacy to a decision that had already been made. Tribes were
excluded because they would have seen that decision for what it was: a coup by museum
scientists who wanted to keep the remains for purposes of research and by museum
administrators who wanted control of the NAGPRA budget.

Testimony by Mark Hall

{Testimony to the California State Senate Committee on Governmetal Organization given by Dr. Mark Hall on 2/26/2008. The full hearing is available from the Committee and can be requested in writing from Suite 584, 1020 N Street, Sacramento, CA}

Dear Senators, Ladies, and Gentlemen,

Good Morning. My name is Mark Hall, and I was formerly the archaeologist with the NAGPRA Unit at the Hearst Museum of Anthropology at UC Berkeley. I was in this position from February 1, 2006 until June 30th, 2007.

As to my background, I finished my PhD in Anthropology (Archaeology emphasis) from UC Berkeley in Dec. 1992. Most of my career has been spent living, working and doing research in museums in Ireland, Japan and the United Kingdom. I am a registered Professional Archaeologist, and a Fellow in the Royal Society of Asian Affairs, and a Fellow in the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Scotland.

While all this overseas experience my seem irrelavent,it needs to be stressed that I did quickly learn one thing. Local communities have an interest in their heritage. It didn't matter whether I was in Ireland or Mongolia, the local people all identified with the local archaeological remains
and museum materials. To do archaeology and research in these places required the involvement and permission from the community.

I see the same principles applying here in North America--to do research and study on prehistoric North American materials one needs the involvement and sanction of the Native American tribes.

I am here today not as a disgruntled, former employee, but as an archaeologist and museum professional who is outraged and disgusted with what has transpired with UC Berkley and its NAGPRA obligations.

First, I am outraged at the way the University covertly and with bias eliminated the NAGPRA unit. While our jobs made us the intermediaries between museum staff, researchers and Native Americans, the University sought only two UC faculty to evaluate and review us. While they were scheduled to question the NAGPRA staff for 20 minutes each, in my case, it was only a 10 minute interview--one member needed to work on getting a plane back to Santa Barbara, and the other wanted to complain about doing the review. In terms of the rest of their fact finding mission, they only bothered to question other museum employees that we interacted with only irregularly. There was no input from the Native American communities we served, and as Prof. Burnside's emails indicate, there was not to be any input from these communities. Further, while we were told this was for budget support from both Beth Burnside and Kent Lightfoot, the reviewers told us they were reviewing us on how we fit into museum operations and evaluate our job performance.

Moving on to other points. While UCB touts it is in compliance with the federal NAGPRA law, one can question its sincerity. In a 2000 report by Dr. Edward Luby, a former NAGPRA coordinator, he estimated that 48% of the inventories were done without full review of the documents available at UCB. While technically legal, is it really ethical and moral? One also has to wonder what impact does this have on the Hearst listing 80% of its collection as culturally unidentifiable? My personal feeling is that it will have a major impact--from what I have found in the paperwork, parts of CA-Lassen-7, CA-San Joaquin-42, CA-Tul-145, Humboldt and Hidden caves in Nevada should have been eligible for repatriation. Along similar lines, one also has to question the Hearst's title to some items in its collections. For example does UC Berkeley really hold title to the finds from sites NV-Washoe-177 through 180 that
were accessioned to the museum before 1970?

The process that the UC system has put into place for Native American tribes to file a claim is also a source of disgust. Whether through intention or accident, claims for items and human remains in the Hearst must be written and submitted as a formal report. This means it must be referenced, footnoted and with a bibliography. This is in contrast to most Federal agencies which accept a short letter and oral testimony. While NAGPRA recognizes oral traditions, linguistics, and history as relevant lines of evidence, the UCB repatriation committee in the months between February 2006 and June 2007 was noticeably lacking in members specializing in these fields. And unless changes have been made since June 2007, the UCOP Repatriation committee is also lacking specialists in linguistics, oral traditions/folklore, and history. Native American representation on both the Berkeley repatriation committee and the UCOP repatriation committee is also minimal. For the Berkely repatriation committee there was only 1. For the UCOP committee, there is 2.

And yes when a claim is filed it must go through two committees. It goes through the local campus committee first, and if it gets approved for repatriation there, it goes to the UCOP repatriation committee. The UCOP committee can accept or reject it. In essence you have a double jeopardy system.

Finally, the UCB mantra in this whole affair has been: "we want to be more like other museums." One has to ask though, do these other museums which the Hearst wants to emulate have a sizable Native American community living in their midst? in most cases it is no!
Also, one can ask when did UCB ever settle for being mediocre? The UCB I was trained by, taught us to be the best period. What is wrong with setting a new standard and a new path?

Thank you for your time and the oportunity to voice these concerns.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Coverage of the hearing

Berkeley accused of racism over failure to return tribal bones
By Richard C. Paddock, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

February 27, 2008

SACRAMENTO -- -- State Senate leaders chastised UC Berkeley
administrators Tuesday for trampling on the civil rights of Native
Americans by not returning the remains of thousands of their
ancestors held in storage at a campus museum.

Sen. Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento), the incoming Senate leader,
accused the university of discriminating against Native Americans by
keeping the bones and artifacts at the Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of
Anthropology despite federal and state laws that established
procedures for returning them years ago.

"If there were remains of my ancestors, European Americans, in the
Hearst museum at one of the most respected universities in the
country, there would be an absolute outcry from people, and I
guarantee you something would be done about it quickly," Steinberg
told university officials at a hearing of the Senate Governmental
Organization Committee. "But because they're Native American remains,
somehow it is different."

For more than 40 years, the bones of about 12,000 Native Americans
have been kept in drawers and cabinets under the swimming pool of the
Hearst Gymnasium, next door to the museum. Most of the bones were dug
up by university archaeologists in the first half of the 20th

Under the 1990 federal Native American Graves Protection and
Repatriation Act and a similar 2001 state law written by Steinberg,
the museum is required to identify the origins of bones and artifacts
in its collection and return them to the tribes they came from. So
far the museum has repatriated the bones of about 260 individuals.

UC Berkeley triggered new controversy over the bones in June when it
eliminated the staff unit within the museum that was responsible for
working with tribes and facilitating the return of the remains.

rest at,1,6882753.story


Senators accuse UC - Berkeley of discrimination, secrecy over ancestral remains Email this page Print this page
Posted: February 28, 2008
by: Shadi Rahimi

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - In a powerful show of support, state senators are rebuking the University of California - Berkeley for refusing to return thousands of Native human remains held in storage, calling the actions of university officials discriminatory.

Sen. Dean Florez, D-Shafter, chairman of the Senate Committee on Governmental Organization, said in a Feb. 27 letter addressed to UC - Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau that he had been inclined to give university officials ''the benefit of the doubt,'' but he was ''appalled'' after testimonies at a hearing at the state Capitol Feb. 26.

University officials ''systematically'' excluded Natives from ''having any involvement'' in a decision to eliminate a unit at the Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology - which houses the second-largest Native collection in the nation - that had helped tribes reclaim ancestral items under the Native American Graves and Repatriation Act.

''UC - Berkeley officials have acted secretly and without transparency to circumvent the mandates and the spirit of federal and state NAGPRA laws,'' Florez wrote in the letter, provided to Indian Country Today by a protest coalition representing 400,000 tribal members.

Florez is urging Birgeneau to meet with tribal leaders within 30 days. During the hearing, he had questioned why university officials have repeatedly refused to work directly with tribes and to meet with tribal leaders (even after they marched to his office this past fall).

rest at

Friday, February 22, 2008

Calif. Senate Committee Hearing!

CA Senate Committee on Governmental Organization to Examine UC Berkeley’s Native American Graves Protection & Repatriation Act Compliance Program: Tribal Voices to be Heard

When: February 26, 2008

Where: Room 3191 of State Capitol

Time: 9:30 a.m.

SACRAMENTO, Calif., Feb. 19, 2008 – Native Americans and social justice allies are urged to
attend a Senate hearing to present their opinions on UC Berkeley’s (UCB) decision to
reorganize the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) compliance
program. The Senate Committee on Governmental Organization has mandated that UCB officials
participate in the hearing after many months of attempts by tribal leaders to negotiate with
UC Berkeley’s administration. The committee will hear of long-standing problems that tribes
have faced while trying to repatriate their ancestors from UCB, and tribal leaders will have
the chance to offer their solutions to these problems to the Senate committee.

UCB’s Phoebe Hearst Museum warehouses the remains of over 12,000 Native individuals. The
University scientists hold a professional stake in keeping these ancestors at the University
for their own research purposes. However, such activity violates Native American spiritual
and cultural practice and likely puts UCB into non-compliance with federal NAGPRA policy.
Museum and University officials argue that they adequately consulted with tribes on
returning the remains to their living tribal descendants. However, many tribes disagree and
are demanding that further effort be made by the UC system to fix the problem.

“Although the 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.”

“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 perogatives must
give way to concerns of public justice.”

Tribes and individuals can add their voices by contacting Senators Dean Florez (Chairman),
Jeff Denham (Vice Chairman), Jim Battin, Abel Maldonado, Gloria Negrete McLeod, Edward
Vincent, Patricia Wiggins, Mark Wyland, and Leland Yee at the Senate Committee on
Governmental Organization, Legislative Office Building, 1020 N Street, Room 584, Sacramento,
CA 95814, 916-651-1530, FAX 916-445-5258. Urge them to support the needs of tribes to
rebury their ancestors over the desires of UCB to use them as specimens.

For additional information on the UCB NAGPRA issue, visit

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Longest Walk 2

Dear Tribes and Friends:

For those of you who have been sympathetically following the repatriation protest at UC Berkeley, I’d like to urge you to support the Longest Walk (, which is described in the following introductory passage from the organization’s website:

On Feb. 11th, Longest Walk participants will embark on a
5 month journey from San Francisco to Washington, D.C. arriving
on July 11th. The Longest Walk south route is being led by
AIM co-founder Dennis J. Banks. It is an extraordinary grassroots
effort on a national level to bring attention to the environmental
disharmony of Mother Earth, sacred site issues, and to
commemorate the 30th anniversary of the original longest walk.

The journey will take fortitude, determination, courage, and much help from supporters along the way. Given the people involved and the significance of the issues, I’m sure the march will succeed. For complete details, please see the website.

The Longest Walk embraces many issues far beyond the sudden and secretive elimination of UC Berkeley’s Hearst Museum NAGPRA unit, but organizers sympathize with our protest against turning complete control of the remains over 12,000 Native ancestors to radically anti-repatriation scientists like Osteologist Tim White. For this and other reasons marchers have chosen to stop at Sproul Plaza on the UC Berkeley campus at 12 noon on this Monday, February 11 for a press conference. Please attend if you possibly can. At that time, speakers will be asking you to support and be present at a California State Senate hearing on February 26 investigating the reorganization and the possibility of setting up a mediation board between tribes and the UC system. Please attend this too – it’s very important to show strength, numbers, and solidarity.

Regarding the NAGPRA unit: in a letter to National NAGPRA on proposed rules for culturally unidentifiable ancestral remains, Susanville Rancheria has perhaps spoken most eloquently about Mr. White’s argument that he deserves complete control of repatriation at the Hearst Museum:

Dr. Tim White … claims that “he and his colleagues in such fields as medicine, physical anthropology, evolutionary biology, forensics and archaeology rely heavily on the use of skeletal remains.” He states further that “no students in these fields could be properly trained without direct access to relevant physical scientific evidence.” How many ancestors must you have to study? It seems to us that you have amassed more human remains than you will ever need to train your up-and-coming scientists. How useful can human remains be, if you identify them as culturally unidentifiable? The ancestors have been dug up and exposed, stopping the journey to the other side; Native Americans have the right to be buried. This is a human rights issue! Their journey has been disturbed. It is time for them to come home, and return to Mother Earth.

Even if Mr. White thinks human remains are so scientifically important, why he is so covetous of Native American remains. Wouldn’t it be fairer to share the burden? Shouldn’t he use his same arguments to request governmental permission to dig up the graves of Caucasians, say at Forest Lawn or even Arlington? President Kennedy is buried at Arlington; he was a brilliant man and surely his remains would yield interesting “scientific” results. Should we desecrate his grave in the name of Mr. White’s precious “science”? Most people would be rightfully shocked. Why are they so complacent about Native American human remains?

I urge you again to support the Longest Walk.
Corbin Collins

Thursday, February 7, 2008

A quick note

Dear tribes and friends:

While the Native American NAGPRA Coalition (NANC) believes the LA Times article is by and large fair, there a few factual errors.

The article seems to insinuate that ancestral remains cannot be repatriated to non-recognized tribes. According to NANC member, archaeologist and Stanford faculty member Jon D. Daehnke, Ph.D, this is incorrect. “There is absolutely nothing in NAGPRA that precludes the repatriation of human remains or cultural objects to non-recognized tribes and in fact repatriation to non-recognized tribes has occurred across the nation (and has been applauded by the National NAGPRA Review Committee). The distinction is that repatriation in these cases is at the discretion of the museum or federal agency. In this sense, a museum's relationship with non-recognized tribal entities is very illustrative of their overall feelings toward ownership of bones and the concerns of Native Americans. Museums that choose not to repatriate to non-recognized tribes, or even to consult with them, typically reflect a patronizing and colonial view of their authority and control over these human remains. Therefore, Professor Tim White's assessment that these objects are not being repatriated because they are affiliated with non-recognized tribes is both ethically and legally incorrect, and is indicative of his true attitudes.”

The reporter states that "Larri Fredericks and her husband, Corbin Collins, organized a coalition of tribes opposed to the museum reorganization." This is extremely misleading and must have come from a campus source; the Coalition was organized by tribes themselves and many other Native Americans, including Fredericks. (Collins did not even know tribal members prior to the dispute). The Chancellor perpetuates this myth because it is in the reorganization’s interest to blame our protest on a “small group of critics.” All of the resolutions (including the National Congress of American Indians’), the letters, the protests, and nationwide expression of support put the lie to the Chancellor’s disinformation.

The University now claims that NAGPRA unit was disbanded because it was "dysfunctional"; but prior to the reorganization, the University and the tribes had nothing but praise for the Unit's performance. Indeed, administrators rationalized the “integration” of the unit into the museum as a means of better drawing on the staff’s highly regarded expertise. The only "dysfunction" was that the Unit's efficient, fair and impartial administration of NAGPRA threatened the professional goals of scientists such as Tim White who want to keep the collection of Native American human remains intact for research. The administrators who ordered the reorganization are allies of these scientists, in opposition to tribal concerns. To this day, neither the Chancellor nor higher UC officials such as Rory Hume will even deign to meet with leaders of sovereign tribal governments.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

LA Times feature

UC Berkeley's bones of contention

Native Americans say Hearst Museum violates a law on returning ancient remains. Officials say finding rightful recipients isn't easy.

By Richard C. Paddock, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

January 13, 2008
BERKELEY -- There is a legend at UC Berkeley that human bones are stored in the landmark Campanile tower. But university officials say that's not true.

The human bones are actually stored beneath the Hearst Gymnasium swimming pool.

The remains of about 12,000 Native Americans lie in drawers and cabinets in the gym's basement. Most of them were dug up by university archaeologists and have been stored under the pool since at least the early 1960s.

Now the bones are at the center of a dispute between Native Americans, who want to rebury their ancestors, and university officials, who have been slow to hand over the remains. Some tribal leaders contend that the university is violating a federal law that governs the repatriation of artifacts and remains.

"We don't appreciate them keeping our ancestors locked up in a drawer," said Ted Howard, cultural resources director of the Shoshone-Paiute Tribes. "This is a human rights issue to the tribes. All we're asking for is to be treated fairly."

Similar disputes have played out elsewhere, but Berkeley, the birthplace of the Free Speech Movement, is widely regarded as a bastion of liberalism. Since 1992, the city of Berkeley has celebrated Indigenous People's Day instead of Columbus Day. But at UC Berkeley, the debate over the bones has turned ugly.

The bones, along with 400,000 Native American artifacts, are held by UC's Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology, which has a small exhibit space on campus but one of the largest collections of human remains in the U.S. outside a cemetery.

Under the 1990 federal Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, the museum is required to identify the tribal origins of its bones and artifacts and return them to federally recognized tribes that request them. So far, the museum has repatriated the bones of about 260 individuals.

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Saturday, January 5, 2008

Wisconsin Inter-Tribal Repatriation support

Dear tribes and friends:

Above you will find a letter from the Wisconsin Inter-Tribal Repatriation Committee to Provost Wyatt R. Hume, acting president of the ten-campus University of California. The Committee represents all eleven federally recognized tribes in Wisconsin, and was written in support of the Native American NAGPRA Coalition’s (NANC) protest against UC Berkeley’s decision to eliminate the Phoebe Hearst Museum’s autonomous NAGPRA unit, the complete exclusion of American Indians from the reorganization decision process, the subsequent devastation of fair and impartial NAGPRA services, and other critical forms of exclusion that have dramatically impeded tribes’ ability to lawfully repatriate their ancestors’ remains. NANC would like to thank the Wisconsin tribes for their support. Their letter is a powerful addition to a growing body of letters and resolutions condemning the University’s NAGPRA policies, including a resolution by the National Congress of American Indians, the largest tribal organization in the country ( ).

Note that on October 31st, NANC sent a detailed letter to Provost Hume outlining our Coalition’s objections to UC Berkeley’s exclusionary NAGPRA policies ( Dr. Hume chose to ignore that letter and the request of tribal leaders for a meeting. Apparently, he accepts UC Berkeley administrators’ account of the recent NAGPRA dispute, an account which rationalizes blatant discrimination, trivializes the impact of Museum policies on repatriation services, obfuscates crucial distinctions and justifies the complete subordination of NAGPRA rights to the priorities of hostile research scientists ( We truly hope that the Wisconsin Inter-Tribal Repatriation Committee’s letter, along with other resolutions, will prompt Provost Hume to reconsider his indifference and to acknowledge the existence and legitimate concerns of sovereign tribal nations. Once again, we ask that he meet with the Native American NAGPRA Coalition.