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

No comments: