January 19, 2008

Singing for Natives in bags

Award-Winning Singers from 14 Indian Bands to Perform Ancient Songs in UCB’s Sproul Plaza at Noon, January 22

Native American Salt Song Singers will Travel from across the West to Mourn Ancestors Housed in UC Berkeley BasementTribal leaders and members of The Salt Song Project, a program of the Native American Land Conservancy (Non-Profit 501.C.3), will conduct an historic Inter-Tribal ceremony at noon on January 22 in UC Berkeley’s Sproul Plaza. The ceremony will mourn the thousands of Native Americans whose remains are stored in drawers and plastic bags a few hundred feet away in the gym basement adjacent to the Phoebe Hearst Museum.

Vivienne Jake and Matthew Leivas, Sr. feel it is imperative to conduct this rite of passage ceremony now to raise public awareness about the shocking lack of cooperation from UC administrators with tribal entities. Despite numerous resolutions from tribes and the National Congress of American Indians and thousands of letters and emails requesting repatriation, senior UC administrators have refused to meet with tribal leaders and have continued to deny tribes their lawful claim for the religious and ceremonial reburial of their ancestors. Thus far, UCB Chancellor Robert Birgeneau and UC system president Rory Hume have simply ignored requests to discuss the University’s administration of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) and have referred all inquiries to Museum subordinates who lack the power and desire to change UC NAGPRA policies.

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