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Native Americans


  • Originally published 08/21/2013

    Apaches’ dispute with American Museum of Natural History

    Four years ago, the American Museum of Natural History agreed to return to the Apaches 77 objects from its collection, including headwear, feathers, bows and arrows, medicine rings and satchels containing crystals and charms.But none of the items have gone back because of an unusual, if persistent, disagreement with representatives of the Apaches over whether the museum will officially designate the items as sacred relics that should never have been taken.At first glance, the dispute would seem to hinge on semantics: the museum is prepared to refer to the objects, many more than a century old, as “cultural items,” while the Apaches insist that they be designated as “sacred” and “items of cultural patrimony,” legal classifications set out under federal law. The Apaches say this is hardly a case of being fussy. They say the items are imbued with their religion’s holy beings, that tribal elders attribute problems like alcoholism and unemployment on reservations to their unsettled spirits, and that the museum’s position is insulting to them and their deities....

  • Originally published 06/21/2013

    Tony Platt: UC and Native Americans -- Unsettled Remains

    Tony Platt is a visiting professor of justice studies at San Jose State University and the author of "Grave Matters: Excavating California's Buried Past."In 1974, Berkeley's distinguished anthropologist Robert Heizer issued a public mea culpa for the practices of his profession in treating "California Indians as though they were objects." In particular, he apologized for the "continued digging up of the graves of their ancestors."In 1999, the department of anthropology at Berkeley issued an apology to the cultural descendants of Ishi, a Yahi native, for sending his brain to the Smithsonian after his death in 1916. "We regret our department's role in what happened to Ishi, a man who had already lost all that was dear to him."This was a good beginning to a journey of accountability and reconciliation. But since then, the University of California has been largely silent about its role as the legal owner of a vast collection of native remains stashed in basements in campuses throughout the state. It owes at the very least 10,000 more apologies....

  • Originally published 05/03/2013

    Vatican uncovers first known European depiction of Native Americans

    VATICAN CITY (RNS) Preservationists working on a Renaissance fresco in the Vatican have uncovered what experts believe is the first European representation of Native Americans, from 1494.Writing on April 27 in the Vatican’s semi-official newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, the director of the Vatican Museum, Antonio Paolucci, said the previously unnoticed detail was discovered in a Resurrection scene painted by the Renaissance master Pinturicchio.Covered by centuries of soot, the restoration of the painting revealed a small depiction of naked men with feathered headdresses who appear to be dancing. A man on horseback is also visible....

  • Originally published 03/04/2013

    Researchers uncover earliest tobacco use in the Pacific Northwest

    Native American hunter-gatherers living more than a thousand years ago in what is now northwestern California ate salmon, acorns and other foods, and now we know they also smoked tobacco—the earliest known usage in the Pacific Northwest, according to a new University of California, Davis, study. "The study demonstrates that tobacco smoking was part of the northwestern California culture very early ... shortly after the earliest documented Pacific Northwest Coast plank house villages," said the study, published in the Journal of Archaeological Science....

  • Originally published 02/14/2013

    Landowner trying to sell portion of Wounded Knee

    One of the country's poorest Native American tribes wants to buy a historically significant piece of land where 300 of their ancestors were killed, but tribal leaders say the nearly $4 million price tag for a property appraised at less than $7,000 is just too much.James Czywczynski is trying to sell a 40-acre fraction of the Wounded Knee National Historic Landmark on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation to the Oglala Sioux Tribe. The land sits adjacent to a gravesite where about 150 of the 300 Lakota men, women and children killed by the 7th Cavalry in 1890 are buried.Czywczynski, whose family has owned the property since 1968, recently gave the tribe an ultimatum: purchase the land for $3.9 million or he will open up bidding to non-Native Americans. He said he has been trying to sell the land to the tribe for years...

  • Originally published 02/06/2013

    Montana lawmakers reject Winchester as state rifle

    Montana lawmakers have rejected a proposal to name the Winchester Model 1873 the state rifle after Native American legislators said they couldn't honor a weapon that "devastated" their ancestors...

  • Originally published 02/05/2013

    Ancient petroglyphs stolen from California site recovered

    LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Four ancient petroglyphs that were stolen from a historic site in Northern California last year have been recovered, but no suspects have been identified in the brazen theft, federal authorities said on Thursday.The petroglyphs, which were carved into volcanic rock more than 3,500 years ago, were discovered missing in October from the site in the Volcanic Tablelands, east of Yosemite, near California's border with Nevada.They are said to represent a pristine example of Great Basin rock art that portrayed the daily hunter-gatherer activities that took place in the area at the time....

  • Originally published 01/24/2013

    Native American connection to 40,000 year old human in northwest China

    Detailed examination of samples of ancient DNA has revealed the genetic makeup of humans living circa 40,000 years ago in an area near what is now Beijing in China.An international team of researchers including Svante Pääbo and Qiaomei Fu of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, have sequenced nuclear and mitochondrial DNA extracted from the leg of an early modern human from Tianyuan Cave near Beijing.Analyses of DNA recovered from the leg bones showed that the Tianyuan human shared a common origin with present-day Asians and Native Americans. In addition, the researchers found the proportion of Neanderthal and Denisovan-DNA in this early modern human is no higher than in current populations living in this region today....

  • Originally published 10/17/2013

    Uncovering the Tea Party's Radical Roots

    If we put the Tea Party's claim to be Jeffersonians in the proper historical perspective, we come out not on the far right but on the far left.

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