By Brenda Norrell
A whistleblower reveals that the US erased and altered records to hide the mismanagement of Native American remains. The exposure confirms what was previously reported about the United States dark and sinister history -- at the Smithsonian, US Interior and elsewhere -- regarding Native American remains.
"A former Tribal Historical Preservation Officer's complaint has sparked calls for an investigation into claims that federal officials ignored a law that says human remains and relics must be documented, preserved and ultimately returned to Native American tribes," reports Boing Boing today.
The Associated Press reports:
The U.S. Office of Special Counsel has directed the Interior Department to investigate whether U.S. Bureau of Reclamation officials have violated the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act while managing collections of remains and artifacts amassed during the construction and management of dams and waterways throughout California and parts of Nevada and Oregon.A whistleblower complained that the bureau in Sacramento erased records within an Interior Department database and altered spreadsheets in an effort to hide mismanagement of collections under the agency's control, resulting in hundreds of remains and artifacts being lost, boxed up for storage or loaned to museums and universities without the ability to track them.
The Smithsonian Institution has a long and dark history.
The Smithsonian Institution admitted in 1999, after a probe and nearly a century of secrecy, that it housed the brain of Ishi, a Yahi Indian who walked into Oroville, Calif., in 1911.
But the admission came after American Indians demanded a beffiting burial and University of California researchers probed the whereabouts of Ishi's remains. The Smithsonian admits that Ishi's brain was in a warehouse at the National Museum of Natural History.
The Smithsonian's dark history includes the collecting of American Indian brains for a racist experiment which claimed to reveal the relationship between race and intelligence. Brains were collected for bounty.
One of the massacres where this sinister collection of brains was carried out was at Sand Creek in Colorado, a brutal massacre where fleeing Cheyenne and Arapaho women and children were murdered in 1864.
Pawnee professor James Riding In provided much of the information. After publication of this article, I wrote the Smithsonian and asked if it was true that more than 10,000 Indian skulls remained at the Smithsonian. There was no response. (Read more: http://bsnorrell.blogspot.com/2011/03/smithsonians-racist-collection-of.html )
Now in July of 2014, a whistlebower confirms that large numbers of Native American remains have been mislaid and mislabeled.
Hundreds of Native American human remains and relics are lost in a bureaucratic jumble, according to a detailed whistleblower disclosure posted by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).
PEER said in its statement, "In response, the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) has directed the Secretary of Interior to conduct a formal investigation into systemic violation of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA).
"NAGPRA requires federal agencies to account for all newly discovered or currently held Native American human remains and artifacts both to preserve and ultimately return them to Indian tribes and descendants to whom they rightfully belong. Due to its work excavating dams and reservoirs, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation is one of the West’s largest repositories of Native American remains and funerary objects."
A combination of budget cuts and the low priority assigned by Reclamation managers caused NAGPRA responsibilities to fall by the wayside, according to Patrick Williams, a former Museum Specialist in Archeology at the Mid-Pacific Regional Office in Sacramento, California, PEER said.
As a result, Reclamation –
As a result, Reclamation –
- Ceased detailed cataloging of new remains and death rite relics discovered, leaving collections boxed up in storage;
- Did not keep track of collections on loan to museums and universities; and
- Routinely failed to notify tribes of ancestral recoveries, thus blocking any chance of repatriating ancestral remains, one of the main purposes of NAGPRA.