Tuesday 9 March 2010

Artefact Hunting: History's Shame

Tony Platt on his GoodToGo blog has a text today "Remembering History's Shame"in which he discusses the African Burial Ground memorial in New York and contrasts it with the way Native American burial sites have been treated by artefact collectors in the United States.
While on a trip to the east coast from my home in Berkeley I get the news that yet another Native American site on California's northwest coast has been vandalized. Between the 1780s - when Thomas Jefferson dug up a huge cemetery containing a thousand human remains - and the 1970s, when the Red Power movement began to put amateur and professional archaeologists on the defensive, the discovery and excavation of native skeletons was promoted as good sport, entrepreneurial initiative, and sound science. Minimally 600,000, and maybe as many as one million, graves were excavated. Millions of artifacts from graves ended up in museums, private collections, and cabinets of curiosities, while body parts were sent to universities for scientific analysis. The looting of graves and illegal trading in native artifacts for profit continue, despite an array of local, state, and federal laws.
He notes "almost twenty years of struggle and political organizing to begin to do justice to New York's enslaved past". How long will it be before Native American remains cease to be seen just as something that can be dug up and used as a kind of collectables like stamps and beer mats?

No comments:

Creative Commons License
Ten utwór jest dostępny na licencji Creative Commons Uznanie autorstwa-Bez utworów zależnych 3.0 Unported.