your internet resource on facebook on twitter on Google+ on soundcloud
phone: 202 630 8439
Native American Bank - Native people investing in Native communities
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines
Print   Subscribe
Bush administration opposes NAGPRA amendment
Friday, July 29, 2005

Indianz.Com Listening Lounge, Senate Indian Affairs Committee oversight hearing on the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, July 28, 2005.
Note: All files in MP3 format.
Intro - 2:13 - 392k
Panel I - 14:09 -2.4MB
Panel II - 42:10 - 7.2MB | Q&A - 24:39 - 4.2MB
Witness List
The Bush administration came under fire at a Senate hearing on Thursday for opposing legislation that would clear up an ongoing controversy in repatriation law.

Paul Hoffman, an Interior Department official, announced for the first time that the administration agrees with an appeals court decision in the Kennewick Man case. In February 2004, the 9th Circuit allowed scientific study of the 9,300-year-old remains, holding that they are not "Native American."

Tribes and their advocates have criticized the ruling, saying it limits the ability to repatriate artifacts and human remains. In response, Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona), the chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, introduced a bill to modify the definition of "Native American" to cover Kennewick Man cases that might arise in the future.

The measure has the support of tribes, Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-North Dakota), the committee's vice chairman, and Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii). But Hoffman said adding the words "or was" to the definition of "Native American" will allow tribes to reclaim remains and artifacts to which they are not entitled.

"We believe that the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals correctly interpreted the law and the intent of Congress, which was to give American Indians control over remains of their genetic and cultural forbearers, not over the remains of people bearing no special and significant genetic or cultural relationship to some presently existing indigenous tribe, people, or culture," Hoffman testified.

Paul Bender, a law professor at Arizona State University who worked on the Native American Graves Repatriation and Protection Act said he had "no idea" why the administration would oppose the pending bill. He said the court's decision needs to be addressed by Congress because it locks tribes out of the repatriation process.

"Under the 9th Circuit, decision there would be no consultation," he testified.

Walter Echo-Hawk, an attorney with the Native American Rights Fund, called the administration's announcement a "sad retreat from its earlier position" that Kennewick Man and other remains like him are Native American regardless of age. He said the Department of Justice had "strongly supported" the view embraced by the bill in the court battle.

"When it comes to a human rights matter, we lose credibility when the administration says one thing to one branch of the government and then the opposite to another branch," he told the committee.

Paula Barran, an attorney from Oregon who argued the Kennewick Man case on behalf of scientists, criticized the bill. She said it denies the public the right to learn more about the identify of some of the first Americans, whom she claimed are not related to present-day Native Americans.

"They weren't American Indians as we know those people today," she said. "They're different. Kennewick Man is different. This man walked our county and he wasn't an American Indian as we know it today."

Kennewick Man more closely resembles Polynesian people and the ancestors of the Ainu, the indigenous people of Japan, Barran added. She called the proposed amendment a "sweeping change" in repatriation law.

Keith W. Kintigh of the Society for American Archaeology disagreed with that interpretation. He supported the amendment, saying the change in definition will have no effect on remains that can conclusively be linked to present-day Native Americans or on remains classified as "culturally unidentifiable." The handling of these types of remains are the subject of regulations that are still being drafted.

Van Horn Diamond, a Native Hawaiian who has worked on repatriation issues in Hawaii, also backed the bill. "No scientific curiosity should have singular license to indigenous remains and artifacts," he testified. "Not all knowledge resides in Western" modes of thought, he said.

Echo-Hawk noted that the 9th Circuit ruling creates disparate systems for Native Americans and Native Hawaiians. Remains and artifacts found in Hawaii that predate the arrival of Europeans are presumed to be Native Hawaiian. Yet remains and artifacts found in the United States that predate 1492 are not treated the same, Echo-Hawk said.

At the onset of the hearing, McCain apologized for failing to hold a hearing on the amendment before the bill passed the committee. "I agree with these critics and stand corrected for not doing this earlier," he said. The language is contained in an "omnibus" that describes the change as technical in nature.

Dorgan, who is working with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe to repatriate an ancestor who died while visiting Washington, D.C., in the 1860s, said the issue continues to be an emotional one.

"There were times in this country when Indian bodies were collected on the battle field and sent back to Washington for study and then end up as a set of bones somewhere in a basement," he said at the conclusion of the hearing. "That's a pretty shameful thing to have had that happened."

Dorgan also raised questions about the use of NAGPRA program funds to pay for the Kennewick Man case. According to Hoffman, the Interior Department paid $680,000 to Barran and her litigation team with an additional $1.8 million owed to the scientist plaintiffs.

NAGPRA Amendment Bill:
S.536: Technical Corrections Act

Court Decision:
BONNICHSEN v. US (February 4, 2004)

Relevant Links:
Kennewick Man, Department of Interior -
Friends of America's Past -
Kennewick Man Virtual Interpretive Center, The Tri-City (Washington) Herald -

Related Stories:
Editorial: Science trumps Native repatriation (7/27)
Senate Indian Affairs Committee hearings (7/25)
Editorial: McCain should drop NAGPRA amendment (7/20)
Scientists wrap up work on Kennewick Man remains (7/19)
Kennewick Man scientists fear NAGPRA amendment (7/15)
Scientists begin study of Kennewick Man remains (7/11)
NAGPRA amendment up for hearing in Senate (07/06)
Column: Hearing slated on two-word change to NAGPRA (06/24)
Scientists get ready to study Kennewick Man (6/21)
Tribe says NAGPRA amendment will right a wrong (04/19)
Opinion: McCain bill will block study of ancient remains (04/14)
Scientists oppose McCain bill to change NAGPRA (04/08)
Panel approves Native Hawaiian, NAGPRA changes (03/10)
NAGPRA change up for Senate consideration again (3/9)
Tribes seek role in Kennewick Man proceedings (02/16)
Campbell-backed bill adds two words to NAGPRA (10/1)
Battle over Kennewick Man study far from over (08/02)
Editorial: Let Kennewick Man speak! (say what?) (07/22)
Column: Kennewick Man belongs to everyone (7/21)
Tribes to seek restrictions on Kennewick Man study (7/20)
Tribes drop Kennewick Man claim in court (7/20)
Repatriation process criticized at Senate hearing (07/15)
Editorial: It's about time Kennewick Man case ends (04/29)
Tribes debate next step in Kennewick Man case (04/27)
Kennewick rehearing denied (4/21)
Court rules scientists can study Kennewick Man (02/05)
Kennewick Man battle back in court (9/8)
Tribes file opening brief in Kennewick Man case (03/19)
Appeals court asked to stop Kennewick Man tests (01/23)
Norton treads uncharted waters over remains (4/11)

Copyright 2000-2006 Indianz.Com
More headlines...
Stay Connected:
On Facebook

On Twitter

On Google+

On SoundCloud
Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Supreme Court agrees to hear Omaha Reservation boundary case (10/2)
BIA proclaims another 104 acres as reservation of Shakopee Tribe (10/2)
Native Sun News: Court hears case over soil farm near Pine Ridge (10/2)
Clara Caufield: The ups and downs of growing up as a 'half-breed' (10/2)
Steven Newcomb: Doctrine of domination hinders tribal land claim (10/2)
Ian Zabarte: Western Shoshone territory in Nevada is not for sale (10/2)
Sam Campbell: Catholic Church continues to celebrate genocide (10/2)
Maia Szalavitz: Stereotypes about Native Americans and alcohol (10/2)
Dartmouth removes director of Native program after controversy (10/2)
Guilty pleas for shootings of Indian men in Wyoming border town (10/2)
Santa Clara Pueblo seeks payment for use of land for utility lines (10/2)
Chairman of Mashantucket Tribe seeks another term on council (10/2)
Pro and Con: Lytton Band land-into-trust and development plan (10/2)
Chukchansi Tribe heads to vote as casino closure hits one year (10/2)
Spokane Tribe still waiting for answer on off-reservation casino (10/2)
Coquille Tribe awaits next step in bid for off-reservation casino (10/2)
Ione Band of Miwok Indians continues with long quest for casino (10/2)
Cobell scholarship fund now boasts nearly $30M from settlement (10/1)
Changes to Navajo Nation water rights settlement signed into law (10/1)
Alaska Native health corporation secures transfer of IHS property (10/1)
Judge rejects challenges to Ione Band land-into-trust application (10/1)
Native Sun News: Lakota Code Talker captured Nazi flag in WWII (10/1)
Doug George-Kanentiio: Onondaga Nation brings honor to us all (10/1)
Ivan F. Star Comes Out: Tribes paid dearly for all that 'free' stuff (10/1)
Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe reports strong interest in pot resort (10/1)
Native alumni at Dartmouth seek removal of Native program hire (10/1)
IBIA rejects challenge to Grand Traverse Band land-into-trust bid (10/1)
DOJ audit slams handling of $70M in grants for Navajo Nation jails (10/1)
Ute Tribe and states win injunction against new BLM fracking rule (10/1)
Heather Denkmire: State tries to take river from Penobscot Nation (10/1)
Authorities investigate deaths on Northern Cheyenne Reservation (10/1)
President Obama signs bill to fund government thru December 11 (10/1)
Republican Jeb Bush defends racist name of Washington NFL team (10/1)
Connecticut tribes release request for proposals for a new casino (10/1)
Poarch Creeks meet for mediation session in casino tax dispute (10/1)
Eastern Cherokees bring gaming market a little closer to Atlanta (10/1)
Editorial: Dry Creek Rancheria casino still a threat to community (10/1)
House subcommittee embraces two tribal federal recognition bills (9/30)
Shinnecock Nation welcomes Secretary Jewell on key anniversary (9/30)
Jeb Bush wants tribes and states to control energy development (9/30)
Senate Committee on Indian Affairs schedules hearing on energy (9/30)
Former Indian Affairs attorney at Interior Department joins firm (9/30)
National Indian Gaming Commission finally sees another member (9/30)
Native Sun News: Agency in South Dakota hires first tribal liaison (9/30)
Native Sun News: Lakota blues player opens South Dakota festival (9/30)
Jay Daniels: Tribal news requires the negative as well as positive (9/30)
Steve Russell: Religious fundamentalism courtesy of county clerk (9/30)
Colville Tribes weigh amendment for small amounts of marijuana (9/30)
Saginaw Chippewa Tribe raids marijuana operation on reservation (9/30)
Tulalip Tribes man convicted for buying guns despite court order (9/30)
Congress set to pass measure to avert shutdown of government (9/30)
Colombian tribe still struggling after being forced out of homeland (9/30)
Tribal communities in Nicaragua disrupted by influx of newcomers (9/30)
more headlines...

Home | Arts & Entertainment | Business | Canada | Cobell Lawsuit | Education | Environment | Federal Recognition | Federal Register | Forum | Health | Humor | Indian Gaming | Indian Trust | Jack Abramoff Scandal | Jobs & Notices | Law | National | News | Opinion | Politics | Sports | Technology | World

Indianz.Com Terms of Service | Indianz.Com Privacy Policy
About Indianz.Com | Advertise on Indianz.Com

Indianz.Com is a product of Noble Savage Media, LLC and Ho-Chunk, Inc.