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Native American groups: UC Berkeley should return artifacts

Berkeley, California (AP) 10-07

Native American groups have asked the University of California, Berkeley, to return thousands of museum artifacts to tribes from California to Alaska.

University staff members joined tribal representatives in a protest during October, calling for tribes to be given a say in the Hearst Museum’s decisions on which items in its collection must be returned. The Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. is the only museum in the country that has a larger collection of remains than the Hearst.

A reorganization of the museum stripped tribal representatives of their say in deciding which of the museum’s artifacts get chosen for return. Now, the decision making in the hands of museum staff.

“It’s our ancestral right to bury our dead,” said 43-year-old Lenora Starr, a descendant of Oregon’s Warm Springs tribe. “Regardless of which nation you are a member of, I consider this our people.”

Native American groups are trying to get possession of human remains and cultural artifacts using the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act -- a law that orders museums and federal agencies to return as many of the estimated 200,000 remains being held for study as possible.

Assistant Chancellor Beata FitzPatrick said the university is abiding by the law.

“I would like to say our chancellor has very great respect for native peoples,” FitzPatrick said. “We believe the university is in compliance with (the law).”

Information from: San Francisco Chronicle,

http://www.sfgate.com/chronicle
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