“They didn’t volunteer to leave the U.S.,” John Burch, a spiritual leader of the Salinan Tribe of Monterey and San Luis Obispo Counties, told the Los Angeles Times. “They were kidnapped, and now they’re home.”
While the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act governs the return of remains and artifacts to tribes from museums and institutions in the United States, it does not apply to foreign institutions like the University of Birmingham, reported the Los Angeles Times.
But June Jones, a bioethicist in the university’s School of Medical and Dental Sciences, told the newspaper that the university sees repatriation as “a moral choice.” The school will also be returning bones to indigenous groups in Australia and New Zealand.
“This is an honor,” Jones told the Los Angeles Times. “It’s all about respect for cultures and beliefs, even if they don’t happen to be ours.”
Burch was able to navigate the bureaucracy with the help of Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-California), the U.S. Embassy in London and the state’s Native American Heritage Commission, reported the Los Angeles Times.
“Getting remains into the U.S. has been very problematic,” Dave Singleton, a program analyst with the heritage commission, told the Los AngelesTimes. “As far as we know, this is the first of its kind in California.”
Clues to the bones origins were written on labels: “Dug from a grave near Avila, San Luis Obispo County, California by R.W. Summers.”
Summers, an Episcopal minister in San Luis Obispo and an amateur archaeologist amassed a collection of Native American artifacts during his life—he died in 1898.
His collection ended up with his friend Selwyn Freer, a British clergyman. The Los Angeles Times reported that Freer’s family reported that was prominent at the university in Birmingham, but it’s not known if that’s how the bones came to be there.
FULL ARTICLE HERE: Native Remains Repatriated From England and Reburied in California – ICTMN.com.