Saturday, May 21, 2011

UC vs. the Kumeyaay

Science letter co-author Tim White, a prominent paleoanthropologist at UC Berkeley, told, “Administrators are doing everything they can to ignore the scientific value of the specimens. They are trying to illegally repatriate them to a lobbyist for a dozen San Diego County tribes.”

UC officials are seeking to provide the skeletons to the Kumeyaay Nation east of San Diego under a complex process guided by the federal Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA). But critical scientists say NAGPRA requirements aren’t being followed properly, setting the stage for a potential legal battle over the bones.

“This is Kennewick Man II,” White said, referring to the long federal court battle in 2004 when scientists won the right to study bones found in Washington.

In a May 11 letter, Mark Yudof, president of the 10-campus UC system, authorized UCSD chancellor Marye Anne Fox to dispose of the bones — after clarifications are made to a report done under NAGPRA requirements, and other tribes that may be interested in the bones are consulted.

Steve Benegas, the repatriation spokesman for the Kumeyaay nation’s 12 tribes, said they are entitled to the bones and to decide about future analysis. Some Native Americans believe scientific research amounts to desecration of remains, and Benegas said he personally is against studies.

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