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Historic preservation board pick fought tribes on sacred sites

A new member of the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation has fought tribes on sacred sites.

Lynne Sebastian was appointed as an "expert member" by President Barack Obama on January 22. “The ACHP’s mission of promoting the preservation and appreciation of the nation’s diverse cultural heritage will be greatly aided by Dr. Sebastian’s expertise," the board's chairman, Milford Wayne Donaldson, said in a press release.

But Sebastian has come down against tribes in two high-profile sacred site cases. She was hired by a mining firm to defend a controversial project that would have destroyed a sacred creation site of the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians in southern California.

“In that matter, she rendered paid, ‘expert’ opinion on the cultural value of the tribe’s sacred place without even speaking with our tribe or personally surveying the geographical area she was testifying on," Chairman Marc Macarro said in a letter to Jodi Gillette, White House Senior Advisor on Native American Affairs, Indian Country Today reported.

In another case, Sebastian was hired by yet another mining company to defend a controversial gold mine in southern California that was opposed by the Quechan Nation. “She never met with the tribe, and she came in there acting like she was an expert on the tribe’s culture," attorney Courtney Ann Coyle told ICT.

Sebastian will be sworn in to her post at ACHP's Winter Business Meeting in Washington, D.C., tomorrow.

Get the Story:
Tribes Oppose Obama's Nomination of Lynne Sebastian to Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (Indian Country Today 2/28)

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