ADDING "OR WAS" RELATED TO NAGPRA

What follows is a letter that I sent to Senator John McCain and my Senators from Iowa.  Unfortunately, Senator McCain has taken the position that the scientific studies of ancient human remains are "Obscene" and "Disgraceful"   Indian militants, liberal academics and others are all for the stoppage of all archaeology and archaeological studies of the past.  They much would prefer that their pan American agenda and new age noble Indian beliefs be taken as truth and anything contrary be destroyed (repatriated to any claiming tribe with or without connection - to be reburied [destroyed] under their present belief ceremonies or something they could concoct for the cameras and press).

Before you call me racist, let me remind you that the author of the Senate version of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation act was Sen. Melcher.  He stated that (Human), "Remains were also obtained by archaeologist.  In general these are older remains, gathered for study to piece together the millennium of our unknown past.  We do not intend in any way to interfere with this study and science in the bill".

NAGPRA was to protect directly related to a tribe, clan or family; human remains in graves, their artifacts and to provide a means by which tribes and families could repatriate identifiable human remains and artifacts collected during the Indian wars and sent to various museums like the Surgeon General Museum and the Smithsonian.  It was not to stop archaeology, to force agencies to accept militant Indian control of their excavations or mandate politically correct interpretations of the findings.  It was not to prevent invasive studies for the purpose of the study of bone rings, trace mineral studies, carbon dating or anything else.  Unrelated means the remains and artifacts belong to our history and therefore, belongs to all Americans.  If there is no evidence on any connection to any living people, then there is no problem with the study of these things as the are not related to anyone.  A feeling or personal belief has no merit, unless you wish to establish a State Religion where one groups feelings are law and must be followed by everyone.

The original intent of the law is in my article Politically Correct and Destroying America's Past and other articles on this site.  So here is the generic version of my letter.                                            

 

                                                                                     February 15, 2006

  Dear Senator:

 

My concern is the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act and the naive promotion by Senator McCain and others for a change in the wording from “is related” to adding “or was” to “related” within the text of the law.

Sir, Congress got it right the first time.  In spite of open ended words like religious, related, ancestral, etc… that turns NAGPRA into a litigation dream for the attorneys, anti-science liberals, and militant Indians, Congress chose to say, “is related”.

“Is” by definition means akin to.  “Is” means without change from it’s present condition.  In other words, when Congress chose the word is, they were saying that the burial remains and artifacts discussed within the law were to be directly identifiable to an existing tribe, clan or family.  Use of the word “Was”, would be changing the subject from a present direct connection to a less defined state.

“Was” is defined as the third person singular of “to be” in the past tense.  So the definition is more, “connected with”, rather than is related.  There is a large difference in connected to a country and is related to a living people.  A slight change in words, but in the world of liberals and militants, it changes the focus from “is related” to the “was” an influence or presence.  The difference is the study, curation and protection of our common history or prevention of study, repatriation and destruction of our common past.  Unrelated human remains and artifacts are just that, unrelated. Was is past tense, and if there is no “IS”, then there are no living heirs to the culture, and we call that history.  Was means that 20 or more unrelated groups can sue for the control, possession and financial payment for a 100% non-interest in the human remains or associated or unassociated artifacts. All they need is a myth, oral legend or some thought that their people once traveled that way.  The militants have already defined all artifacts and remains as related to them, even with the total absence of any proof of any cultural relationship or particular blood ties.  Some have gone so far as to say that every pot shard, broken arrowhead and ancient camp site is sacred.  They even want to claim Caucasian remains, as in the case of Kennewick man and some of America’s other earliest human remains.  Do not fall for the liberal anti-science trap.  Protect our common history for all and the generations to come.  Say no to the addition of the words “ or Was” to related within NAGPRA.

It has now gone so far as some professionals are now proposing the destruction of State Museum collections.  See enclosed article that was given to the Iowa State Archaeologist and board of directors of the Iowa Archaeological Society last April, 2005 in response to some politically correct proposals that they made and endorsed.  Please read and then do the right thing and protect history and do not endorse the word change proposed for NAGPRA. 

                                      

                                       Respectfully,

                                       Thomas E Browner

                                        Past President Central States Archaeological Societies

                                        Past President Illinois State Archaeological Society

                                        Past President Hawkeye State Archaeological Society

 

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