'Those are our people'

We’ll tell you what the University of California Berkeley has in its collection and what one tribe is doing about it. And Kolby KickingWoman has more on two Supreme Court cases involving Indian Country.
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More than a dozen years ago the Phoebe A. Hearst museum fired its anthropology team that was supposed to be monitoring human remains and said it had a final inventory of some 2000 human remains and funerary objects. All of those remains and objects are associated with the Chumash people. Even now the tribe has said the University of California Berkeley is a “documented bad actor” that continues to deliberately obstruct repatriation. Today we speak with Chairman Kenneth Kahn of the Santa Ynez Band of Mission Indians.

There are two cases involving Indian Country that are being heard in the Supreme Court. Our reporter Kolby KickingWoman joins the newscast to tell us more about those cases as well as some reactions from the movers and shakers in and around Washington D.C. And Kolby tell us more about the commission the Biden administration has formed.

A slice of our Indigenous world

  • The Oneida tribe is in disbelief after a fatal shooting at the Nation’s casino and hotel near Green Bay, Wisconsin on Saturday night. 
  • The U.S. Department of the Treasury is one step closer to settling a case with the Shawnee Tribe. 
  • The International Space Station is a little less crowded today.
  • A two-day summit in Albuquerque New Mexico is focusing on ending violence against Indigenous women and children.

Find more details on these stories at the top of today's newscast.

Some quotes from today's show.

Kenneth Kahn:

"Certainly it goes back many, many years. You referenced when there was a firing of some of the committee members. Back in 2008 the geo committee held a hearing by then geo chair Dean Florez who had wanted to bring some awareness to the situation. And we were hoping that that was the catalyst to get everybody to start following the policies and repatriating or bringing our ancestors home. Since then, it's been very frustrating for our tribe."

"It's as simple as that's somebody's grandma, that's somebody's grandpa. And for us, those are our people. It's frustrating when researchers are resistant to the repatriation process. Often I ask them, well, what would you do if that was your grandmother or one of your family members that was sitting in a cupboard or a cabinet for almost anybody that in the research department has access to at any time?"

"I was able to do a tour back in, I think it was '17 or '18. And a lot of our ancestors were in either locker systems or, as we went up in the basement area, in open shelves in cardboard trays, which was from our perspective, very disrespectful. We were fortunate that we were able to do some repatriation, but now we're finding out that there's more items within the system. And we'd like to address that as soon as possible, but we'd also like some accountability on the institution's part."

Kolby KickingWoman:

"There is one case left to be heard and that is being heard tomorrow. And then it will be the slow wait to hear when the opinions are handed out. As you said, there are two Native cases that were heard this term one involving Alaska Native corporations and another one out of Montana that involves the extent that a tribal police officer can detain non-Natives on tribal land."

"Our great Alaska Bureau had been covered to the Alaska Native corporations case and I listened into United States v. Cooley. And now it's now it's the waiting game. Last year we had waited a long time for the McGirt decision came out in July. I know that the Supreme Court usually likes to have everything wrapped up by June. So we'll see."

"I think one of the things that we've talked about frequently is having justices that are well-versed in federal Indian law. And I think the justice that's really taken the mantle is justice Neil Gorsuch. He came from the 10th circuit, which has Oklahoma, Kansas, Wyoming, Mexico. And so he's really kind of the lead person among the justices. I've also talked to individuals from the Native American Rights Fund and they said justice Sonia Sotomayor is another individual that's been on the Supreme court that has taken up Indian laws as an interest and in her own time."

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Mark Trahant, Shoshone-Bannock, is editor of Indian Country Today. On Twitter: @TrahantReports Trahant is based in Phoenix. 

Patty Talahongva, Hopi, is executive producer of Indian Country Today. Follow her on Twitter: @WiteSpider

Kolby KickingWoman, Blackfeet/A'aniih is a reporter/producer for Indian Country Today. On Twitter: @KDKW_406
Email: kkickingwoman@indiancountrytoday.com

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