Santa Ynez Reservation of California


The Chumash of Santa Ynez have grave concerns at a Santa Barbara Cemetery. Cemetery work crews may have unearthed Chumash remains in December in what could lead to an archaeological investigation by the California Native American Heritage Commission. "The only way to find this out is by archaeologist testing," said Diane Napoleone, a Chumash who owns an archaeological consulting business. "They are digging new graves and displacing our ancient burials," she said. Cemetery manager Randy Thwing said the piles of dirt in question -old fill that originated elsewhere -were the result of an irrigation project in the cemetery's uppermost summit section. "We would really like to know where that soil came from," Thwing said. Meanwhile, the irrigation project is on hold. A coroner's official observed bone fragments and American Indian artifacts among the piles, Sheriff's Lt. Mike Burridge said. The case has since fallen under the jurisdiction of the heritage commission. The state agency was established to protect Native burial sites.