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
Fredericks Peebles & Morgan LLP
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines

Printer friendly version
Nev. tribe wants ancient remains 'to come home'
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 14, 2003

Secretary of Interior Gale Norton is being asked to return the remains of a 10,000-year-old man to a Nevada tribe that has waited more than 60 years to rebury him.

Referred to as Spirit Cave Man, the bones were discovered on federal land in 1940 and later put on display at a Nevada museum. The Fallon-Paiute Shoshone Tribe, citing the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) of 1990, sought their return.

But the Clinton administration in August 2000 turned down the request. The Bureau of Land Management, citing a whole host of factors, said the remains were indeed Native American but not culturally connected to the tribe.

That decision triggered a process that few government officials know how to handle. And it has left the tribe "frustrated" with the inaction, said the council member most familiar with the case.

"We're trying to keep it out of court," said Rochanne L. Downs. "We don't want to go there. But if we have to, we will."

A provision of NAGPRA created a special committee to handle disputes like the one involving Spirit Cave Man. Composed of experts in the tribal and scientific communities, the panel can hold hearings, take testimony and review evidence, all in the hopes of resolving ownership and control of human remains.

The problem is that no one at the Department of Interior is required to listen to the committee, which nearly a year ago voted 6-1 to repatriate the remains to the tribe.

"We've disagreed with that recommendation," said Pat Barker, BLM's Nevada State Office Archaeologist and the principal author of the Spirit Cave rulings. "Based on the evidence we have -- and there isn't new evidence -- we back our original decision."

The Fallon-Paiute Shoshone Tribe went before the NAGPRA committee in November of 2001 to make its case. Downs said the tribe brought experts, attorneys and elders all the way to Massachusetts to document a cultural relationship to Spirit Cave Man, who was found with sacred items still used by the tribe in burials today.

BLM officials didn't show up.

In the Federal Register notice announcing its vote, the review committee criticized Barker's office. Chairman Armand Minthorn wrote that the BLM failed to give a "fair and objective consideration and assessment of all the available information and evidence in this case."

Minthorn in an interview later said that Interior employees pressured the panel to include the views of the lone member who dissented. "It would be imperative that the committee maintain its original intent as guided by policies and statutes," he said. Minthorn's term ends this summer.

Barker points out that the source of the disconnect is NAGPRA itself, which doesn't make the review committee's recommendations final. "Congress has an opportunity to make it binding," he noted.

To Downs, answers like that aren't satisfactory. After the BLM balked at returning the remains, the tribe last November wrote Norton and asked her to settle the dispute.

She responded, but informed the tribe that she has sought advice from the BLM, which has already made up its mind. The BLM in turn told the tribe it would wait for a new set of regulations covering "culturally unidentifiable" remains to be finalized before acting.

Downs said the tribe is tired of the delays. "NAGPRA is human rights legislation," she said. "No other race in the United states is treated like this."

"We've done our part," she added. "All we want is our ancestor to come home."

Relevant Documents:
Determination of Spirit Cave Man | Spirit Cave Man: Biological Aspects | Federal Register Notice

Relevant Links:
Fallon-Paiute Shoshone Tribe - http://www.fpst.org
Spirit Cave Man, The Reno Gazette-Journal - http://www.rgj.com/news2/specials
Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act Review Committee - http://www.cr.nps.gov/nagpra/REVIEW/INDEX.HTM

Related Stories:
Appeals court asked to stop Kennewick Man tests (01/23)
Kennewick Man battle heats up (10/29)
Tribes join Kennewick Man case (10/23)
Judge won't repatriate Kennewick Man (9/3)
An ancient Indian trust debacle (9/3)
Judge readies decision in Kennewick Man case (06/21)
Norton treads uncharted waters over remains (04/11)

Copyright © Indianz.Com
More headlines...
Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Native Sun News: Lawmakers seek distribution of Cobell checks (7/31)
2nd Circuit protects Cayuga Nation from foreclosure proceeding (7/31)
Senate Indian Affairs Committee passes seven bills at meeting (7/31)
David Wilkins: Finding some common ground on disenrollments (7/31)
Erik Stegman: Racist mascots continue to hurt our Native youth (7/31)
Tribes participate in 400-mile journey from Colorado to Arizona (7/31)
Sen. Tester questions void in leadership at IHS regional offices (7/31)
Matika Wilbur continues photo trip throughout Indian Country (7/31)
Proposed bill targets 'halfbreed' and 'breed' names in Montana (7/31)
Saginaw Chippewa Tribe records high levels of bacteria in river (7/31)
KUOW: Tightening the screws on tribal payday loan operations (7/31)
Notah Begay to be inducted into Stanford Athletics Hall of Fame (7/31)
St. Regis Mohawk Tribe fires police chief following investigation (7/31)
Opinion: Native Americans shackled in poverty by federal policy (7/31)
Fact Checker: Three Pinocchios for Washington team's new site (7/31)
Column: Revisiting Johnny Cash's classic Indian rights recording (7/31)
Column: Sen. McCain breaks promise on Tohono O'odham casino (7/31)
Survey shows support for smoke-free tribal casinos in Wisconsin (7/31)
Prairie Island Tribe arrests woman for possessing meth at casino (7/31)
Chumash Tribe hosts public meeting on $160M casino expansion (7/31)
Crews stop spread of fires that came near Barona Band's casino (7/31)
Native Sun News: Website tracks missing and murdered women (7/30)
Native Sun News: AmeriCorps expands efforts in Indian Country (7/30)
House Natural Resources Committee markup on four tribal bills (7/30)
Mark Begich: A permanent fix for tribal contract support costs (7/30)
Paul Moorehead: Let's get back to promoting self-government (7/30)
Tanya Lee: Violence against Native women a national disgrace (7/30)
Rep. Markwayne Mullin named one of 50 Most Beautiful on Hill (7/30)
Tribes criticize veto provisions in BIA federal recognition rule (7/30)
Great Plains tribes hold conference to safeguard water rights (7/30)
Yurok Tribe wraps up marijuana raids with nearly 13K plants (7/30)
Law Article: Tribal lenders fight federal agency investigation (7/30)
Editorial: Muscogee Nation paves the way for college's future (7/30)
NPR: Relying on social media to keep Native languages alive (7/30)
Opinion: EPA exploits tribes by recognizing their sovereignty (7/30)
Mescalero Apache Nation man sentenced for meth trafficking (7/30)
BIA won't commit to timeline on Mashpee Wampanoag casino (7/30)
Employees at Graton Rancheria casino to negotiate labor deal (7/30)
Tohono O'odham Nation blasts bill to bar off-reservation casino (7/30)
Opposition group sues to block gaming referendum in Nebraska (7/30)
Native Sun News: Native nations unite on uranium mine cleanup (7/29)
Audio from House subcommittee hearing on five tribal measures (7/29)
House Subcommittee on Indian and Alaska Native Affairs hearing (7/29)
Witness List: SCIA hearing on natural disasters in Indian Country (7/29)
Gyasi Ross: Tribes put principle over profit in banning Ted Nugent (7/29)
Steven Newcomb: UN perpetuates dominance of Native peoples (7/29)
Megan Red Shirt-Shaw: Music festival outlaws faux headdresses (7/29)
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.