Steven Newcomb: University holding onto Kumeyaay ancestors

"The Kumeyaay have no ceremony for reburying the dead. The remains of a Kumeyaay ancestor unearthed by the dominating society are to be given the same ceremony as a loved one who has recently passed on. Steven Banegas, a Kumeyaay from Barona and spokesman for the Kumeyaay Cultural Repatriation Committee (KCRC), made this point to Indian Country Today Media Network as he contemplated recent developments with regard to Kumeyaay ancestral remains (labeled “CA-SDI-4669”) that are claimed by the University of California at San Diego (UCSD).

In 1976, funerary objects and nearly 10,000-year-old human remains were unearthed during renovation work at the UCSD chancellor’s house in La Jolla, California. For years, the KCRC has been trying to have those ancestral remains repatriated in accordance with the 1990 Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act.

A UCSD review committee has tended to focus on the physical characteristics of the bones. In 2009, the committee finished a “Notice of Inventory Completion,” and “Evidence for Cultural Determination: CA-SDI-4669.” It decided that the human remains were “[culturally] unaffiliated at this time.” The committee also acknowledged, however, that it could not definitively say that the ancestral remains were not culturally affiliated with the Kumeyaay."

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Steven Newcomb: Kumeyaay Ancestral Remains Held by UCSD (Indian Country Today 8/22)

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