Monday, December 03, 2007

NAGPRA update Following on recent news of changing NAGPRA, Hawks has a post up on the, as he calls it, patriation of some very old remains:
In that light, repatriating a 10,000-year-old skeleton must subtract from our future inquiries into the origins of New World peoples. Or I should say, patriating, since it isn't being sent back to its people, it is being given to entirely new people who have no demonstrated relationship to the skeleton at all.

I do perceive the real benefits from cordial and cooperative relationships with indigenous peoples, particularly where tribes have well-defined and recognized historic territories. The vast majority of skeletal remains of ancient Americans are quite recent, and might in most cases (given sufficient evidence and analysis) be attributable to particular historic cultural groups.

But for remains over a few thousand years old -- and certainly for the earliest New World populations -- every living person of Native American descent may count these early skeletons among their ancestors.