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Cynthia-Lou Coleman: Media downplays tribal views on NAGPRA

The ancestral remains that are the subject of a long-running NAGPRA dispute were discovered on the grounds of The University House at the University of California-San Diego.. Photo from UCSD

Cynthia-Lou Coleman, a member of the Osage Nation, wonders why the media diminishes tribal viewpoints when it comes to disputes about the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act:
The case at hand involves two skeletons—a woman and a man—discovered on state property in San Diego in 1976. Since then, the bones had been the subject of empirical study until local tribes requested the bones be returned.

Science writer Carl Zimmer notes that tribes went to court in 2006 to have the skeletons returned.

Several scientists sued to have control over the bones, but lost their battle on two fronts: a district court rejected their claims in 2012, and a federal court upheld the decision to repatriate the skeletons to tribes in 2014.

In January 2016, the US Supreme Court declined to hear the case, thus upholding the lower court decision that would allow the bones to return home.

What makes the case doubly significant is that Kennewick Man, the ancient skeleton discovered in the Northwest Pacific in 1996, has yet to be repatriated to tribes despite the finding in 2015 that The Ancient One’s DNA matches that of Colville tribal members’.

Get the Story:
Cynthia Coleman Emery: Landmark Judgment Returns Remains to Tribe (Indian Country Today 2/13)

9th Circuit Decision:
White v. University of California (August 27, 2014)

Federal Register Notice:
Notice of Inventory Completion: The University of California, San Diego, San Diego, CA (December 5, 2011)

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