Tuesday, December 04, 2007

NAGPRA update Proposed federal rule threatens 2 decades of established law
The Society for American Archaeology (SAA) has condemned a proposed rule by the U.S. Department of Interior that would put in jeopardy the highly productive compromise that was reached when the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) was passed in 1990.

On October 16, 2007, the Department of the Interior published draft regulations that would destroy the use of cultural affiliation as the principle for repatriation decisions, which is at the core of NAGPRA and supported by seventeen years of hard work and effort by tribes, archaeologists, and museum personnel, and replace it with an undefined notion of "cultural relationship."

“The Department’s proposed regulations have no basis in law or science and reflect an attempt to impermissibly legislate in a manner not prescribed by Congress. The adoption of the regulations as they stand would force the NAGPRA process back to square one,” said Dean Snow, president of SAA. “This ill-advised rule would irreparably diminish the archaeological record of the entire U.S. “The damage to some of our most cherished institutions and the cost to science and the public is incalculable.”

Note that this is different from the recent Senate moves to alter the language of NAGPRA. It's really perplexing what the point of this is.