American Indians confront UC-Berkeley over remains


From The San Francisco Chronicle

Native Americans ask UC Berkeley to return museum artifacts

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Native American groups rallied Friday at UC Berkeley in an attempt to get campus officials to allow them to return thousands of museum artifacts to tribes from California to Alaska.

A group that included university staff and tribal representatives used to decide which items must be returned to the tribes, but a reorganization at the Hearst Museum put museum staff members in charge, and tribal leaders say the new configuration shuts them out.

The move comes as increasing numbers of tribal leaders, using a law approved nearly 20 years ago, try to get possession of human remains and cultural artifacts.

After an hourlong noon rally – during which they extolled the virtues of relinquishing to tribes the remains of 13,000 Native Americans stored at the museum – the 200 protesters marched from Sproul Hall to campus administration offices where they demanded to meet with Chancellor Robert Birgeneau.

Assistant Chancellor Beata FitzPatrick emerged briefly from California Hall to assert that the university is abiding by the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act.

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