Hi, I'm new here. Thank you for accepting me into the group. I am not an archaeologist, just a fan. My special interest is in California coastal tribes. My daughter has a degree in Anth/Arch. I have learned a lot from her. She spent two summers doing field work on San Nicholas Island off the California coast. Looking back, I haven't seen any posts about the Lone Woman of San Nicholas Island, specifically about the research about her that was halted and opportunities lost due to the actions of one student filmmaker. Some may view the outcome differently, but in my opinion what happened was tragic. I originally heard this story from my daughter, who was actually present during some of it, and I have no reason to disbelieve her version of events. Dr. Rene Vellanoweth, mentioned in the article, was my daughter's professor and faculty advisor. Anyway, read on...
The whole issue between archeologists and native Americans has generated a lot of controversy. The Graves and Repatriation Act has been a mixed blessing. The natives are still getting hosed in some places. In CA every county has someone appointed by the governor who decides what is to be done when a native grave site is found. Guess what, doesn't have to be a native or have any knowledge of natives. So it's a political plum, and the people appointed do what the developer's want. In Emeryville some Ohlone graves were found at a big project, what to be done? The state appointed lady said, oh, can't disturb them, just pave over them!! Whew, project could continue uninterupted. The problem is the Ohlone have no traditions about graves, to them dead bodies were just empty shells, and were unceremoniously burried in midden heaps. What's important to the Ohlone is how their ancestors lived, so they want archeologists to study their grave sites and skeletons! Infuriating.
It's unfortunate for the people that put so much time in trying to tell more of this woman's story. I really feel for that professor especially.
That said, indigenous peoples have had their history stolen and destroyed since the first day Europeans set foot in the Americas. First Nations people, wherever they are, should have the right to determine what, if anything, is done with any sites, relics or artifacts related to them when they're discovered.
In my opinion, if the Navy has made that determination ( which is a whole other thing entirely. Who the f#$k are they to determine it? The U. S. Military killed most of your people, so ummm ya, we'll be letting you know what is and isn't yours from now on ) it's pretty cut-and-dried that the only course of action is to talk to the tribal council and convince enough there's value in excavating the cave. Work with the tribal members and include them.
To be honest. From the sounds of it the professor knew the woman was indigenous. Regardless of who her people were, some native people should have been heavily involved from early on anyway. Hindsight and all that though.