Sunday, October 14, 2012

Professors object to remains over 9,000 years old being given to Kumeyaay

Since the discovery of Kennewick Man, our understanding of the ancestry of indigenous Americans has increased in complexity. Some believed that Kennewick Man was Caucasoid. It was suggested that he might be related to the Ainu people of Japan. And of course, most of the people of the Americas didn't stay in one place for thousands of years. They tended to move around. But it now seems that American Indian ancestry might be more mixed than we once believed.

White et al v. University of California: Motions to Dismiss Granted
UCLA American Indian Studies Center
Oct. 12, 2012

On October 9, 2012, the federal District Court in San Francisco granted the University’s motion to dismiss the White v. UC lawsuit without leave to amend (see PDF below). This lawsuit was filed by three UC professors to prevent UCSD from transferring certain very old remains (estimated to be 9000-10,000 years old) to a local tribe. Among other things, the parties dispute whether such a transfer is required under the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA). UC moved to dismiss the complaint on procedural grounds, primarily arguing that the tribes are necessary parties to the suit given their interest in the remains and the possibility of inconsistent rulings against the University, but, because they are independent sovereigns, they are immune from suit and therefore the suit must be dismissed. The Kumeyaay Cultural Repatriation Committee (KCRC), which was also sued by Plaintiffs, made a similar argument.

UC has agreed to Plaintiffs’ request to maintain the status quo while they decide whether to appeal. Also, the separate case filed by KCRC against the University is still pending in federal court in San Diego and is stayed while the injunction in the White case is in place. Plaintiffs have 30 days to file a notice of appeal.

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