indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+
ph: 202 630 8439   fax: 202 318 2182
Kill The Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement
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 - http://www.cr.nps.gov/aad/kennewick
Friends of America's Past - http://www.friendsofpast.org
Kennewick Man Virtual Interpretive Center, The Tri-City (Washington) Herald - http://www.kennewick-man.com

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...
Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Native Sun News: Film company aims to bring Native stories to life (9/2)
Mark Trahant: Alaska Native candidate joins rival in governor's race (9/2)
Jeromy Sullivan: Port Gamble S'Klallam Tribe cleans up homelands (9/2)
Walt Lamar: Tribes face problems dealing with legalized marijuana (9/2)
Jennie Stockle: Fans mock Cherokee people with Trail of Tears sign (9/2)
DaShanne Stokes: State-recognized tribes need eagle feathers too (9/2)
BIA holds final meetings on reforms to federal recognition process (9/2)
Comanche Nation recognizing Code Talkers with new gravestones (9/2)
Police in Manitoba seek information on two missing Native sisters (9/2)
Indian studies professor denied position over remarks about Israel (9/2)
Alaska Natives excluded from secret military intelligence program (9/2)
Opinion: Decision calls Indian payday lender's arbitration a 'sham' (9/2)
Judge schedules hearing in Gun Lake Tribe's gaming land litigation (9/2)
Poarch Creeks see revenues increase as gaming operation grows (9/2)
Viejas Band looking to expand casino after reaching new compact (9/2)
California tribes are drawing large numbers of Filipinos to casinos (9/2)
Mohegan Tribe wants 'right-sized' commercial casino in New York (9/2)
Tim Giago: Oglala Sioux people aren't afraid to say no to easy cash (9/1)
Native Sun News: Release of secret uranium mining data ordered (9/1)
Mark Trahant: It's past time for tribal leaders to govern the nation (9/1)
Jennie Stockle: A safe space for opponents of offensive mascotry (9/1)
John Christian Hopkins: A big thank you to the friend I never met (9/1)
National Museum of the American Indian celebrates 10th birthday (9/1)
Mother arrested in connection with child's death on Navajo Nation (9/1)
Opinion: Energy development can help secure tribal independence (9/1)
Cherokee Nation announces $170M casino and retail development (9/1)
Tunica-Biloxi Tribe won't be sharing gaming revenues this quarter (9/1)
Seminole Tribe on track to see gaming revenues increase to $2.1B (9/1)
Eastern Shawnee Tribe to reopen gaming facility in February 2015 (9/1)
Editorial: Tohono O'odham Nation didn't play by 'rules' with casino (9/1)
Opinion: Gaming good for Eastern Cherokees but not for fellow tribe (9/1)
Opinion: Federal recognition only means more casinos in California (9/1)
Native Sun News: Tribes walk out of contract support cost meeting (8/29)
Clara Caufield: Northern Cheyenne Tribe spends $2.4M on property (8/29)
Mike Johanns: Retracing steps of great Ponca Chief Standing Bear (8/29)
Steven Newcomb: Racist mascot a sign of deeper problems in US (8/29)
Lauren Jones: Affordable Care Act benefits Native Americans too (8/29)
Gila River Indian Community to see $77.6M from Cobell buy-back (8/29)
Energy boom linked to rise in human trafficking in Indian Country (8/29)
Navajo man heads up Native American Homelessness Task Force (8/29)
9th Circuit hears case over Yakama Nation tobacco manufacturer (8/29)
WAER: ICWA matters handled in 'kangaroo courts' in South Dakota (8/29)
MPR: Red Lake Nation opposes liquor license near dry reservation (8/29)
Tule River Tribe helps remove marijuana operation on reservation (8/29)
Omaha Tribe signs agreement with EPA to improve utility services (8/29)
Las Vegas Paiute Tribe rejected 'gift' from NFL team's foundation (8/29)
KPLU: Spokane Tribe maintains close ties with baseball franchise (8/29)
Opinion: HUD loan program a small step to boost Indian housing (8/29)
DNA study finds distinct population of Native people in Arctic area (8/29)
Tribes closely watching Big Lagoon Rancheria casino land dispute (8/29)
Tohono O'odham Nation to build off-reservation casino in phases (8/29)
State questions Forest County Powatatomi Tribe's slot machines (8/29)
Quapaw Tribe eyes local support for commercial casino in Kansas (8/29)
Native Sun News: Police officers who shot Indian teen get medals (8/28)
Cara Cowan Watts: Laying the groundwork for college scholarship (8/28)
Rudolph Ryser: Indigenous nations need leverage to bring change (8/28)
DOI extends $100M in Cobell buy-back offers on two reservations (8/28)
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.