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Thursday, February 28, 2008

State Senate Has a Bone to Pick With UC Berkeley

Posted By on Thu, Feb 28, 2008 at 8:00 AM

UC Berkeley has a skeleton in it's closet, or rather under it's swimming pool. The LA Times reported yesterday that State Senate leaders have voiced their disapproval of Berkeley's failure to return ancestral bones to Native Americans. The bones of about 12,000 Native Americans have been stored under the swimming pool of the Hearst Gymnasium for 40 years. Has Berkeley learned nothing from Poltergeist? The controversy reached a fever pitch when the school eliminated a staff unit within the museum that was responsible for facilitating the return of the bones to tribal members. (click 'more')

The unit was disbanded following a review by a panel that interim unit director, Larri Fredericks, urged Berkeley administrators to appoint a Native American to. This prompted one UC official, Robert Price, to write an email to a colleague saying, "…Maybe better to stonewall althogether but I see blackmail here that she's threatening to stir them up…" He then accidentally sent the email to Fredericks. Oops. While Price defends the email as constructive criticism instead of, you know, racist, most are not assuaged by the non-apology. Says Otis Parrish, a Kashia Pomo who served as the Hearst's cultural attache and left when the unit was eliminated. "We were lied to and treated with contempt and disrespect." So much for not stirring 'them' up. –Andy Wright

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