The Daily Californian Online

Protesters Dispute Museum Holdings

By Valerie Woolard
Contributing Writer
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
Category: News > University

Cheyanne Gould spoke at yesterday's rally, where protesters spoke against the campus' possession of American Indian burial remains.

Approximately 200 people rallied on Upper Sproul Plaza yesterday to protest the campus' possession of American Indian burial remains and to promote environmental awareness.

The rally was part of the Longest Walk 2, a national march from Alcatraz Island to Washington, D.C. that will pressure the White House to sign the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, adopted last September by the United Nations.

"The goal is to have two million people in Washington, D.C. by July 11," said Antonio Gonzales, director of American Indian Movement-West, the organization spearheading the walk.

The rally, which also featured American Indian poetry and song, was intended as a continued protest of the campus' possession of 12,000 indigenous remains stored in the Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology.

Many protestors, including students from other colleges, claimed the campus is violating the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act by keeping the remains, said Morning Star Gali, California organizer of the Longest Walk 2.

"The tribes never were in control of their own remains," Gali said.

But campus spokesperson Marie Felde said the museum is already working hard to comply with federal law, and has been consulting with tribes and returning burial remains.

"Hearst Museum is actively working with California tribes to assist in repatriation of Native American remains and burial objects," she said.

She noted that, of the remains, only 8,600 were from California burial grounds.

The nationwide walk will also commemorate and re-enact the Longest Walk, which took place 30 years ago and sought to prevent 11 "anti-Indian" pieces of legislation from being passed, Gonzales said.

The current march has similar goals and is also intended to call attention to environmental degradation, he said. Its goals are both cultural and spiritual, and the walkers hope to meet up with many communities and gain many more walkers along the way, he added.

Dennis Banks, the co-founder of the American Indian Movement, spoke at the rally, encouraging students to join the walk on July 11 in Washington, D.C. and to speak out against abuses of the environment.

"There are more dead Indians at this university than there are live ones," he said. "The water has been polluted. The soil has been polluted."

The walkers will be in Sacramento today where they will perform the cultural commencement for the Longest Walk 2.

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