Grave Matters

A brief history of the desecration of Native American cemeteries in Humboldt County

| June 18, 2009

You can find ancient Native American artifacts from Humboldt on show or in storage at several places in the region: the Clarke Historical Museum in Eureka, the museum of the Trees of Mystery in Klamath, University of California's Hearst Museum in Berkeley, and the Favell Museum in Klamath Falls. And if you're in the market, say, for "Big Lagoon Yurok Indian artifacts," you could go on-line and purchase for less than $100 a "large and colorful pendant with fine serrations between 800-1,000 years old,"i or visit a trade show specializing in antiquities to buy rare Wiyot items for thousands of dollars.ii

What you will not typically be told, or maybe you prefer not to know, is that most local "Indian relics" preserved in university labs, museum display cases, private collections, and tourist attractions were taken from inside graves. Today, it is a crime in California to engage in the "willful injury, disfiguration, defacement, or destruction of any object or thing of archaeological or historical interest or value,"iii but until the 1970s digging up Indian sites for pleasure or profit was authorized and popular.

Moreover, for a long time - for most of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries - nobody except Native Americans objected if collectors and adventurers also unearthed the skeletons of the dead to keep as curiosities or ship off to museum curators and university scientists. Sleuthing the location of gravesites and exhumation was a thriving cottage industry that generated at least 600,000 Indian body parts - maybe as many as a million - to which Humboldt contributed its fair share.iv

 

The Fresher The Better

 

Between 1788 - when Thomas Jefferson "conjectured that there might have been a thousand skeletons" in the Indian burial mound he exhumed near his home - and the 1970s when the Red Power movement began to put amateur and professional archaeologists on the defensive, the discovery and removal of Native American human remains was considered good sport and sound science.v

The practice was rooted in the furious competition that took place among the country's leading museums during the nineteenth century as they vied to become showplaces of American progress. Scientists had a particular interest in native peoples who, it was believed, had been frozen in time, unchanging since the Stone Age, and whose remains were therefore thought to hold the key to the "secrets of human origins," and to provide physical evidence for claims about European civilization and native degeneracy.vi The publication of Crania Americana (1839) by Samuel Morton (1799-1851), a Philadelphia physician considered the "father of American physical anthropology," became a rationale and apology for scientific racism, and the widespread view that Native Americans were biologically predestined to extinction.vii

Similarly, Ales Hrdlicka (1869-1943), a Smithsonian curator who made a career out of amassing a "racial brain collection," published a how-to manual for collectors of "specimens for physical anthropology" in 1904, encouraging them "to call attention to the discovery of an ancient burial place." He provided detailed instructions about how to preserve and transport skulls. "Whenever possible all work connected with removing the brain may be obviated by sending the entire head... The fresher the product, the better."viii

Excavation of Indian graves without permission was not the monopoly of racist scientists and museums eager to display freaks and oddities. Throughout the late 19th and early part of the 20th century, anthropologists of every political tendency got in on the hunt, "like bargain hunters at a fire sale," as historian Steven Conn observes.ix Some were motivated by a desire to salvage what they regarded as a dieing but valuable culture. Even anti-racist anthropologists insisted on digging up Indian remains in order to prove the commonalities of a single human race. "It is most unpleasant work to steal bones from a grave," Franz Boas noted in his diary in 1888, "but what is the use, someone has to do it."x

Exhumation of Indian remains also became a fad and hobby, driven partly by a romantic nostalgia for the past, and partly by a mania for accumulating objects for prestige or profit. Digging became an end in itself, a pastime and preoccupation for everybody from boy scouts to country doctors, men's clubs, philanthropic ladies, wealthy collectors, and amateur archaeologists.xi "The collecting bug seized me," admitted one collector in the late 1890s, "and I was lost."xii Members of Yale's hush-hush Order of Skull and Bones - including Prescott Bush, grandfather of a political dynasty - bragged that they stole the skull of Geronimo from his grave in Fort Sill, Oklahoma, in 1918.xiii

Many Archaeologies

It was common practice for the Wiyot and Yurok, who lived along the northwest coast "since time immemorial," to bury their dead close to where they lived. In addition, says Walt Lara, Sr., an elder of the Yurok Tribe, they also buried ceremonial items with the deceased to demonstrate that "he or she was someone of distinction here on earth." Typically the artifacts were broken or destroyed "so that they could not be used again."xiv

Some of the first white travelers heading north from Trinidad in the search for gold knew it was dangerous to violate an Indian cemetery. "Anyone who dares defile the graves," observed Ernest de Massey as he passed by Big Lagoon in the spring of 1850, "would be swiftly punished by a deadly arrow shot quietly from behind some tree. Knowing this, we approached the sacred burial-place with the deepest reverence."xv

But a few weeks after De Massey's respectful visit to Big Lagoon, a group of vigilantes swept through its main settlement - O-pyúweg (Where They Dance) - killing some Yurok residents, taking others as prisoners to be executed the next day. Before burning down eleven houses, they took "all the curiosities out of them," reported the Daily Alta California, thus initiating the area's long history of appropriation.xvi

The excavation of sites around Humboldt was carried out over many decades by a wide range of people - professional and amateur, organized and casual, small-time and institutional. Beginning in 1854, California enacted legislation to "protect the bodies of deceased persons" making it a crime to "disinter, mutilate or remove the body of any deceased person," but Native American bodies were exempt from the protection of law.xvii

Responsibility for ignoring the longtime record of Indian opposition to excavations, for profiting off sorrows, for suspending humanitarianism in the name of science, and for crass insensitivity, can be distributed among a wide array of individuals and institutions.

There were three primary groups involved in excavations: local collectors, many of whom considered themselves self-educated archaeologists contributing to scientific knowledge, as well as traders and hobbyists; teachers and museum curators, who encouraged sales and donations of artifacts to build up collections for educational purposes; and large-scale, academic-based researchers, whose surveys and digs in Yurok and Wiyot territories helped to make Berkeley into an anthropological powerhouse.

Northwestern California Indians were central to the development of the University of California's anthropology program in the early years of the twentieth century. The Yurok played a significant intellectual and personal role in the life of Alfred Kroeber (1876-1960), under whose leadership Berkeley quickly became one of the six leading anthropological centers in the country.xviii

Kroeber sent one of his staff members, Llewellyn Loud, off to Humboldt in the summer and fall of 1913. Most of Loud's archaeological work was done at Indian Island (then known as Gunther Ialand), once an important Native American site in Humboldt Bay, abandoned by the Wiyot in 1860 after some fifty-five of their people were hacked to death by local ranchers in one of the state's bloodiest massacres.xix Loud's report included detailed descriptions and locations of artifacts and skeletons found by him in twenty-two graves preexisting 1860.xx After he published his findings in 1918, Indian Island became a popular site for local hobbyists and entrepreneurs, who now knew for sure that its cemeteries contained collectibles as well as skeletons. Dr. H. H. Stuart, the most prolific collector in Humboldt County, noted in 1931 that he had used Loud's study "as a basis for my own data."xxi

During the first half of the twentieth century, the relationship between academic and local archaeologists was testy and brittle, vacillating between necessary cooperation, begrudging admiration, and outright hostility.xxii Berkeley's anthropologists wanted information on the location of Indian sites, access to records that could help them map settlements, and human remains for evidence of diet, health, and racial typologies. Enterprising locals wanted advice and expertise from academics, as well as legitimization of their activities. For the most part, this division of labor was carried out with cooperative results, if not spirit: the locals received advice and encouragement; and the academics received tips and amassed a huge collection of crania. To this day, Berkeley's Museum of Anthropology stores thousands of Native American remains in the cavernous, dank basement of the Hearst gym.xxiii

California Crania

One of the main suppliers of Native American skeletons from Humboldt County was a Eureka dentist, H. H. Stuart (1885-1976), known as "Doc." A bon vivant, avid outdoorsman, and larger-than-life character, he was a charter member of the Humboldt Historical Society and a board member of the Clarke Memorial Museum. The Times Standard considered him "one of the few authorities" on "the discovery and documentation of tribal skills, customs and knowledge of the first citizens of Humboldt County."xxiv

Stuart's lifetime avocation netted him 10,000 Indian artifacts, which he preserved, traded, and sold.xxv In 1923, inspired by Loud's published work, Stuart secured a lease from the private owner of Indian Island and become the legal occupant of the Wiyot site. "I had no trouble getting permission to dig in it," he later recalled.xxvi During his extensive excavations on the island, started in 1923, Stuart dug up 382 graves.xxvii

Big Lagoon was also an important archaeological site for Doc Stuart, as it was for high school teachers (such as Cecile Clarke), weekend hobbyists, and academics. "Every college, every souvenir hunter wanted Indian artifacts," recalls Yurok leader Joy Sundberg. "Back then there was no way to stop them."xxviii

By 1920, anthropologist Thomas Waterman's Yurok Geography, with its detailed mapping of O-pyúweg and other settlements in the area, was published and widely available. But what brought Stuart and others collectors to Big Lagoon were press reports a few years later that highway construction crews had uncovered "an ancient Indian village and burying ground on high land above the lagoon." Some "relics" were sent off to Berkeley for identification, but locals were on hand to get first pick.xxix

During four months of construction in 1926 on the eastern side of the lagoon, Doc Stuart was busy excavating a Yurok cemetery at Mä'äts, remembered by the Yurok as a site of a notorious massacre. During his 1926-1931 digs at Mä'äts and at O-pyúweg, Stuart dug up at least sixty-three graves.xxx Despite an agreement with the county superintendent of schools that he would turn over to the Eureka High School a percentage of artifacts he found at Mä'äts, he pocketed most of his discoveries.xxxi

Doc Stuart kept the human remains that he dug out of graves in his home until University of California archaeologists expressed an interest in acquiring them. In February and June 1931, he shipped three cartons containing "31 skulls and various human bones" to curator Edward Gifford (1887-1959) at the museum of anthropology.xxxii "They form a desirable addition to the collection of California crania," Gifford informed the university's president.xxxiii

Gifford himself was particularly interested in this gift because of his scientific work on measurement of apparent racial differences between peoples, as indicated by the length and breadth of Indian heads, noses, and ears; the degree of slope in foreheads; the axis of nostrils; and whether or not "the fleshy lower margin of the septum is exposed."xxxiv Gifford's search for the biological basis of social differences was consistent with the ideas and assumption of the racist eugenics movement that had a considerable following in California between the world wars.xxxv

Some seventy-five years later, after the University of California published its inventory of human remains, as required under the 1990 Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act,xxxvi thirteen of the skulls dug up by Stuart were repatriated to the Yurok Tribe in May 2006.xxxvii There is no record of what happened to the missing eighteen skulls and "various human bones" shipped by Stuart to Gifford in 1931. The Hearst Museum's Collections Manager attributes the discrepancy to poor record keeping and, until recently, the tendency of museums to "freely trade in crania."xxxviii

Stuart and a crew of friends continued to work in Big Lagoon through the 1930s and 1940s, excavating another sixty-one gravesites at O-pyúweg. There is no record of what he did with the human remains, including "an old adult, evidently male," covered by "the head and shoulder blades of an old elk"; or "child on steatite slab"; or "child 8 yrs." At a minimum, Stuart excavated 124 graves at Big Lagoon. Together with his work on Indian Island, by his own count he unearthed more than six hundred crania and skeletons in Humboldt County.xxxix "Over the past three decades," observed a Eureka reporter in 1952, "he has dug up a museum of remains, discovered, for the most part, in the tribal burial grounds of this extinct race."xl

By today's standards, Stuart's archaeological practices were decidedly unprofessional and lacking in technical finesse.xli But also by contemporary standards, his knowledge was uneven, and his craft often shoddy. He kept records on some graves, but not on others; his field notes were often imprecise and undated; he did not seem familiar with Waterman's anthropological mapping of Big Lagoon; he sent human remains to the university without evidence of provenience until asked to do so; and when he sold hundreds of his most valuable artifacts to Oregon collector Gene Favell in 1973, he turned over the collection without field notes or even descriptive labels.xlii As for the human remains that ended up in Berkeley, even Alfred Kroeber admitted privately that they generated minimal scientific value. "We have hundreds of Indian skeletons that nobody ever comes to study," Kroeber wrote Gifford in a personal letter.xliii

A Museum of Remains

If Doc Stuart was representative of a cadre of serious collectors and dealers, Cecile Clarke (1886-1979) embodied the private, educational Indian museum. Born within a year of Stuart, Clarke combined the interests of a forward-looking, modern professional with a social and political conservativeness rooted in Edwardian propriety. She was the fiercely independent New Woman, a devotee of self-reliance who chopped her own wood and put career before family. But she was also uneasy with the egalitarian shifts in power from which she herself had benefited. By the last decade of her life, she had become a Nixonian Republican, unnerved by "hippies" and repulsed by "the dirtiest bunch of Indians" that tried to sell her some baskets.xliv

Clarke taught at Eureka High School from 1915 until her retirement in 1950. When she inherited wealth from her family's successful sheep ranch, she bought the Eureka bank building and transformed it into a historical museum.xlv The Clarke Memorial Museum - now known as the Clarke Historical Museum - opened in 1960.

Cecile Clarke first became interested in Indian Island in the 1920s when Doc Stuart sent her "a slave killer and two mended knives" for her collection via his son, who was a student in her class. By 1931, George Albee, superintendent of schools, had worked out an agreement with the island's owner to allow Clarke and her designated agents, including Stuart, to excavate Wiyot sites.xlvi About the same time, the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors approved a request by the school board (on behalf of Cecile Clarke) and the state Indian Museum "to excavate and preserve relics of Indian tribes native to this region."xlvii

Clarke focused primarily on searching for "relics" in graves, as she noted in her diaries: "Maul in loose earth and skull south of tree line ... parts of skeleton lying with skull ... fragments of hip bones... remains of child's or infant's skeleton... remains of a burial... only a few pieces of pelvic bones left of skeleton."xlviii When her collection took up too much room in her house, she moved several cases of bowls, mortars, pestles, and other items to the Eureka High School, where she organized exhibits for students and staff.

As her ambitions grew, Clarke hired locals to carry out excavations on her behalf and spread the word that she would buy artifacts. She was issued a "permit" by the Little River Redwood Company to excavate "Indian burying grounds" on its property in Big Lagoon and Trinidad.xlix A typical Sunday in 1928 found a group of young men digging near Big Lagoon for mortars, pestles, and spears. "One of the interesting finds," reported the Arcata Union, "consisted of a string of beads made from abalone shell in a fair state of preservation, and other implements and trinkets made up a varied list."l

Cecile Clarke's payroll spawned a cottage industry of diggers, who scoured all the local Indian sites. In 1934, she paid one of her favorite agents $177, the equivalent of $2,756 in today's dollars, for digging and filling holes, and finding artifacts that Stuart had missed.li But Clarke was sloppier than even Stuart in her archaeological record keeping. While her diaries meticulously documented meals, chores, social outings, and meetings, her accession records were minimalist, her field notes sparse and incomplete.

Fortunately, Clarke allowed two Berkeley archaeologists, Albert Elsasser and James Bennyhoff, to review and take notes on her Indian treasures kept at the Eureka High School Museum on October 30, 1953. It is clear from this handwritten, eleven-page document that the most important items in Cecile Clarke's collection at that time - including zoomorphs, obsidian blades, and abalone ornaments - came from graves either on Indian Island or in Big Lagoon.lii

Established as the city's first historical museum, the Clarke continued to be involved in archaeological projects through the 1960s. In 1961, the year after the City of Eureka acquired ownership of most of Indian Island, the City Council granted exclusive permission to the Clarke to carry out excavations on the Wiyot site. The council was unanimous in its approval, noted Clarke - there was "no open discussion or questions."liii

Work on Indian Island began in the summer of 1963 and lasted until 1969. The Clarke's team carried out radiocarbon dating tests that confirmed the site's original occupation as 880 A. D., not much earlier, as local archaeologists had hoped to discover.liv The press was full of sensational references to the search for a "lost tribe" because it was difficult for most people to imagine that the ancestors of impoverished, twentieth century Native Americans - the survivors of epidemics, massacres, and displacement - could have once produced desirable artifacts now sought after by collectors, museums, and universities.lv

After the Clarke completed its dig on Indian Island, the Eureka City Council refused all further requests for excavations. Many years later, in an acrimonious exchange, the tribal chairman of the Table Bluff Wiyot accused the Clarke of conducting "grave-robbing excavations on Indian Island."lvi

Vigorous Complaint

Cecile Clarke and Doc Stuart did not consider their avocation in any way insensitive or ghoulish. Prior to the 1960s, archaeologists - amateurs and professionals - did not think twice about exhuming and publicly displaying the remains of Native Americans, or describing their finds to the press in vivid detail. Collectors had no moral qualms about flaunting the skulls and bones of "docile and harmless peoples," typically characterized by the media as "a people that are no more," disconnected from contemporary humankind.lvii After all, the practice had been long approved by respectable academics, even those who were well aware that their subjects were not extinct.lviii

Take, for example, press coverage in 1948 of a University of California excavation of Sumeg at Patrick's Point State Park. Stories about this expedition typically included photographs designed to titillate public interest in archaeology. The San Francisco Examiner showed anthropologist Jack Mills with two skulls, captioned without any sense of irony: "Skull of Indian, left, and head of sea lion."lix A few years later, a Humboldt Times story of a dig near Humboldt Bay carried a photograph of archaeologist James Bennyhoff cradling the cranium of a Wiyot woman with a "demoniacal vision."lx

For the most part, local archaeologists were backed up by the rule of law, as well as by the media. They signed contracts with the private owner of Indian Island to excavate Wiyot sites; they sought permits from the timber company to excavate Yurok sites at Big Lagoon; and they received the blessing of local governments to carry out excavations on public lands for the public good "There was a time, more recently," anthropologist Robert Heizer recalled in 1974, "when prehistoric Indian graves could be dug up without anyone raising a fuss."lxi

Most archaeological projects took place in the full light of day and involved Humboldt's leading citizens and some of California's most distinguished academics, all enthusiastically endorsed by government functionaries. When Cecile Clarke expressed concern in 1932 - "If I am doing something I should not, I will appreciate it if you will tell me"- about the propriety of her school-based excavations on Indian Island, the curator of the State Indian Museum in Sacramento assuaged her anxieties: "As you are acquiring artifacts for an educational purpose, I can see no plausible reason for criticism concerning your hobby of collecting."lxii

Yet, the descendants of the people whose remains were being exhumed and patrimony appropriated persistently objected to excavations of cemeteries. California's tribes certainly suffered terrible losses in the aftermath of the Gold Rush: statewide, the Native American population was reduced by about ninety percent within a hundred years; the Yurok population declined from an estimated 2,500 in 1770 to 700 in 1910;lxiii and between 1850 and 1950, Yurok life expectancy halved.lxiv But many Native Americans continued to live in Humboldt County during and after the worst of times, and as soon as they became politically organized, raised loud voices of opposition to what they considered "grave-robbing."lxv

The first written evidence of Native American resistance to excavation of their cemeteries in northwestern California appeared in Shasta in 1874 when a Wintu woman "on a pilgrimage to the graves of their ancestors" presented a formal petition to a federal official, asking him "not to disturb any of her friends and relatives who have gone the way of all flesh."lxvi

By 1929, when Humboldt County contracted with the Little River Redwood Company to develop a "public playground and recreational park" in Big Lagoon, the lease included a specific prohibition against "digging for Indian graves or relics."lxvii

This did not stop Doc Stuart and other local collectors from excavating graves at Big Lagoon. In 1931 - the year that Stuart was shipping off human remains exhumed in Big Lagoon to his academic contacts in the Bay Area - the U. S. Indian Service located on the Hoopa reservation reported "some of the Indians are making very vigorous complaint against excavations at Indian burying grounds along the coast." In response, the Little River Redwood Company sent out a letter to Cecile Clarke at Eureka High School, revoking its permission to conduct excavations "for scientific purposes" at Big Lagoon and Trinidad. "We now feel," wrote the Little River Redwood Company's vice-president and general manager, "that we must regard the complaint of the Indians; and ask you to consider your permit, to search for Indian relics of any kind on our property, as cancelled. We feel sure you will appreciate the situation, and govern yourself accordingly."lxviii

But Cecile Clarke and others did not govern themselves accordingly. A young Axel Lindgren, a fifth generation Yurok, witnessed skeletons "strewn around the gravesites" as he walked with his brothers to school in Trinidad in 1931. Among these human remains were those of "Old Mau, our great-grandfather, the last male leader of Tsurai."lxix Throughout the 1930s and 1940s, Clarke bought and received as donations artifacts collected at Big Lagoon.lxx A credible eyewitness account also reports that during Doc Stuart's excavations at Big Lagoon in the 1930s and 1940s, he carried out his work surreptitiously "under the cover of a canvas tent, which he set up (as if he was just camping there) and moved gradually as the work progressed across the open field."lxxi

Local collectors continued to ignore Native American objections to excavations of cemeteries until the early 1970s when the American Indian Movement (AIM) nationally and the Northwest Indian Cemetery Protective Association locally exerted enough political pressure to slow down what NICPA described as "the wanton desecration of Indian family cemeteries by archaeologists, art collectors, hobbyists, necromancers, and commercial and amateur curio seekers."lxxii One reason why local collectors could ignore Indian protests for so long is that academic archaeologists shared their dismissive attitude.

Joint Ventures

Until the 1960s, practical necessities made for an uneasy détente between academic and local archaeologists. The self-taught Doc Stuart certainly reaped economic benefits and prestige from his collection, but he also imagined himself a serious anthropologist performing a public service by shedding "new light on mystery tribe of long ago" - an assumption that was reinforced by his academic contacts.lxxiii Gifford commended Stuart in 1948 for "the high quality of your collection from the standpoint of accompanying data, an important matter that so many private collectors neglect."lxxiv

Joint ventures between local and academic archaeologists were reinforced in 1948 when the University of California Archaeological Survey (UCAS) was launched from Berkeley to facilitate "the collection and preservation of prehistoric remains and records concerning them." Robert Heizer advocated a "friendly, cooperative attack on problems which are the common concern of all archaeologists in the state,"lxxv and UCAS called for the enlistment of "local contacts."lxxvi

Whatever disdain academics privately harbored towards locals, they counted on them for inside information. In August 1949, for example, an archaeologist working for Heizer in Trinidad reported that the Yurok site of Tsurai "had been freshly pothunted" and that he had "caught the bastards redhanded." But after he discovered the locals were "loaded with information," they quickly settled their differences and "parted pals."lxxvii

Robert Heizer, who flattered Stuart in 1948 for his "valuable and important" collection, a few years later dismissed him as the "notorious pothunter of Eureka," and referred to one of his collecting buddies, Charles Miles, as somebody who "traffics in the bones of the dead."lxxviii Without such collectors, however, Berkeley would not have had access to important artifacts or been able to amass its collection of crania.

Intensive Excavations

After World War II, university-based archaeology had the personnel and means to carry out long-distance excavations. The larger and more resourceful its operations became, the less it needed the services and insights of local collectors and museums. As a result, the tensions that had simmered for decades erupted into full-scale alienation. But as the academics distanced themselves from local archaeologists, they encountered increasingly organized opposition from local Native Americans.

In 1947-49, the University of California, under the leadership of Robert Heizer, carried out "intensive excavations" at Tsurai (Trinidad) and Sumeg (Patrick's Point) and surface investigations at several other local sites.lxxix From the beginning of the project, Heizer made excavations of Yurok cemeteries an important component of his mission to train young archaeologists. In a letter sent to the head of the state's Division of Parks and Beaches early in 1948, he requested permission to keep in Berkeley any "skeletal material" he dug up.lxxx

During the 1948 Sumeg dig - located in a remote section of the state park, away from residential areas - thousands of artifacts were recovered, and six graves excavated.lxxxi Heizer found signs of deafness in the exhumed bodies and speculated that the disability was congenital.lxxxii The university's public relations office used this finding to showcase the role of Berkeley's anthropology department in promoting a scientific curiosity about the past. But the publicity also pandered to exoticism and reinforced popular misinformation about the inferiority and inevitable extinction of previous civilizations: "Evidence of an ancient race of deaf Indians being towed great distances on the open Pacific by sea lions is in possession of the University of California anthropology department."lxxxiii A headline in a Berkeley newspaper made a demeaning joke out of the 1948 expedition, fuelling Indian resentments against archaeology: "Sea Lions Took Poor Indians for Joy Ride."lxxxiv Even when the press carried a more thoughtful and sympathetic account of Humboldt's first residents, there was no sense that the region was full of living Yurok - anything but extinct - or that they had opinions about their own histories.lxxxv

Some time in the summer of 1948, Robert Heizer checked out Tsurai in Trinidad as a possible site for the 1949 summer dig. Without permission from Yurok descendants, the state or local owners, Heizer's crew spent four days there "surreptitiously" digging two test pits and looking for cemeteries. "Since the site was open, unfenced, and unposted," Heizer later admitted, "we felt we could do our work quietly without advertising it."lxxxvi

But Heizer's covert dig did not go unnoticed. Unlike Sumeg, which was not easily accessible, Tsurai was in the middle of the important coastal town of Trinidad. When the excavation was under way in August 1949, a group of Yurok women, including the formidable Alice Spott, made a surprise visit and accused the field crew of "violating the graves."lxxxvii The women stayed for several days, recalled Axel Lindgren in 1991, "raising havoc over this grave-digging project by the University boys." The failure of the archaeologists to seal off the study area, claimed Lindgren, "led to wholesale pillage to the present time."lxxxviii

Following the contested excavation at Tsurai, Berkeley's archaeologists were on the defense against increasingly organized protests. In September 1949, the state director of the Bureau of Indian Affairs informed Heizer that his office had "received several protests from Indians and interested individuals concerning alleged excavation of old Indian burial grounds in the vicinity of Eureka."lxxxix

Heizer lobbied state officials to back him up against local Indian protests. The politically connected chairman of the state's Park Commission offered to help Heizer circumvent local opposition to a proposed dig at Dry Lagoon State Park, just north of Big Lagoon. "There are people who haven't much else to do but cause trouble," Joseph Knowland wrote Heizer, "and it does not cause much energy to succeed in that." He promised to "see if some plan can not be worked out to accomplish what you request."xc

But such a plan was not worked out. The Berkeley team also faced a challenge from Eureka clubwomen who lobbied state parks' officials to make sure that any artifacts excavated in Humboldt remained in the county.xci In deference to "considerable local sentiment" and in response to "unwelcome attention," Heizer was forced to return to Patrick's Point all the artifacts collected at the Sumeg site.xcii "I have now a somewhat jaundiced view of archaeology in Northwestern California," Heizer concluded in 1950 after experiencing organized opposition on two fronts.xciii

Many years later, Heizer issued a public apology for the failure of archaeologist to "listen to the survivors of the people they profess to be so interested in" and for treating "Indians not as people, but as objects for study."xciv But he never took responsibility for his own role in digging up ancestral village sites and cemeteries without permission. In 1975, after reviewing his "big accumulation" of California-related, archaeological correspondence and notes going back to the early 1930s, Heizer decided to destroy the whole file "so that it will not become ‘archival' and subject to the possibility of being pawed through and its contents ‘interpreted'."xcv

Past As Prologue

Organized Native American opposition to archaeological excavations on California's northwest coast goes back at least to the late 1920s. But it became much more effective in the context of the Red Power movement that ignited a decade of protests from coast to coast, beginning with the occupation of Alcatraz (1969-1971) and culminating with The Longest Walk in 1978.xcvi In response to this movement, Congress passed legislation that provided increased protections for cultural patrimony. The 1978 American Indian Religious Freedom Act recognized the importance of access to "sacred sites," including cemeteries, and the 1979 Archaeological Resources Protection Act provided criminal penalties for unauthorized excavations of graves and "human skeletal remains."xcvii

California was one of the first states in which a grassroots organization was created to specifically halt the desecration and looting of cemeteries. The Northwest Indian Cemetery Protection Association (NICPA), an inter-tribal non-profit organization with strong Yurok participation, was formed in 1969. Its first chairman, Milton Marks, and its second chairman, Walt Lara Sr., were well known Yurok activists. In 1988, NICPA gained national prominence for its role as the respondent in the "G-O Road" Supreme Court case involving Native American religious access to public lands.xcviii But long before that case was settled, NICPA's militancy in California generated widespread recognition and a flurry of results.

In March 1970, the Times Standard finally reported on the long-time fact that "Indians opposed people digging into the graves of their immediate ancestors."xcix A few weeks later, the Humboldt County Sheriff, Gene Cox, issued a public warning that "every person who mutilates, disinters or removes from the place of internment any human remains without authority of law is guilty of a felony. We sincerely hope that the guilty persons who are committing these acts not only realize the magnitude of the crime they are committing, but also that many bodies they are disturbing have close living relatives in the area."c

In June 1970, a confrontation with NICPA activists forced an archaeological team of some twenty students, led by San Francisco State curator Michael Moratto, to abandon a scheduled excavation at the Yurok site of Tsahpekw at Stone Lagoon. "The Indian communities' dignity is constantly infringed upon and Indians wish that such efforts would be directed at white cemeteries," a lawyer for California Indian Legal Services informed Moratto. At a community meeting to discuss the matter, "one particularly irascible Yurok logger," recalls Moratto, "spiced the dialogue with periodic threats of actual violence. Not wishing to jeopardize lives or future Indian-anthropologist relations, I conceded to leave Tsahpekw."ci

NICPA also operated on the political front and took stands on policy issues. In March 1971, Humboldt's Board of Supervisors, in response to NICPA lobbying, unanimously pledged to "vigorously enforce those laws which protect Indian burial grounds, cemeteries, and ceremonial sites." The board also ordered the county to consult with representatives of NICPA during the planning stage of "any project or operation" involving "activities which may adversely affect Indian graves, cemeteries, burial grounds, or ceremonial sites."cii

At the statewide level, NICPA lobbied Governor Jerry Brown and the legislature to create a government agency devoted to the "preservation of areas of religious or ceremonial importance."ciii The efforts of NICPA and other Native American organizations led to the creation in 1976 of the Native American Heritage Commission (NAHC), whose responsibilities include identifying, cataloguing, and protecting Native American cultural resources. NICPA's Milton Marks was appointed to the Commission's first Board of Commissioners, later to be succeeded by Walt Lara, Sr.civ Today, NAHC "provides protection to Native American human burials and skeletal remains from vandalism and inadvertent destruction."cv

NICPA's grassroots organizing achieved results in 1981 when Yurok activists compelled the state's Park and Recreation Department to return exhumed human remains for reburial in an unmarked plot in Patrick's Point State Park. State archaeologist Francis Riddell - a former student of Robert Heizer's - reluctantly complied with the demand: "We're giving back what I spent 25 years excavating and preserving," he told Time magazine. Walt Lara, Sr. responded: "We're not property, and neither are our ancestors."cvi

Though NICPA receded as an organization in the 1990s - its work now absorbed by other Indian organizations - its legacies are evident throughout Humboldt County. In September 1990, the state in consultation with Indian organizations, opened to the public a Yurok redwood plank village in Patrick's Point State Park. It regularly hosts educational and ceremonial events, including the Brush Dance.cvii

In 1992, an annual ecumenical vigil in memory of the 1860 Indian Island massacre was instituted in Eureka. In 2001, grassroots fundraising enabled the Wiyot to purchase 1.5 acres of Indian Island, and on May 18, 2006, the Eureka City Council made history when it returned sixty acres of Indian Island to the Wiyot Tribe.cviii

Beginning in the 1970s, activism within as well as against anthropology mobilized a new generation of archaeologists for whom Native American collaboration and consultation regarding excavations and surveys became a matter not only of legal compliance but also moral obligation.cix This spirit was exemplified in the work of Sonoma State archaeologist Dave Fredrickson, who taught his students to "always take notes when Indians speak at digs, be alert to cultural differences, and show respect. A lot of my success," he recalled recently, "was due to me listening."cx

In 1976, a two-year "cooperative effort" between Sonoma State's Anthropological Laboratory - led by Fredrickson and his colleagues - and NICPA made it possible to stabilize and temporarily protect the prehistoric site of Tsahpekw at Stone Lagoon. Margaret Lara, a Yurok leader, led seminars on "Yurok life, ways, and values" for the field crew. Milton Marks hosted salmon feasts at the site, made his boat available to the archaeological team, and organized a special dinner for everybody involved in the project.cxi

Activism of the 1970s produced significant legal results over the next two decades in California. "Malicious disturbance" of a Native American cemetery became a felony in 1976; a 1987 law made it a felony to remove "Native American artifacts or human remains with an intent to sell or dissect"; and in 2004 a law was passed preventing the public disclosure of the location of Native American prehistoric cemeteries.cxii

In the wake of passage of the federal Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) in 1990, the University of California began the process of publishing and repatriating human remains and grave goods, though a deep wedge of animosity between the university and California's tribes has stalled the process.cxiii In Eureka, the Clarke Historical Museum also has completed an inventory of artifacts taken from Wiyot and Yurok cemeteries as the first stage in repatriation; it no longer displays any items that may have been dug up from gravesites.cxiv "We understand the desire of native peoples to have items that are associated with the burial of their ancestors receive appropriately respectful treatment," says Pam Service, the Clarke's director.cxv

The record is mixed, however, with respect to the preservation, protection, and commemoration of burial sites in Humboldt County. Many sacred places, including cemeteries, continue to be subject to looting, erosion by nature and neglect, and amnesia. In 1989, relic hunters desecrated graves at the Yurok site of Tsurai in Trinidad;cxvi twenty years later, local authorities are still discussing how best to preserve the area.cxvii In 2007, a collector was convicted of excavating a burial site at Stone Lagoon, cxviii and recently, a looter was arrested for stealing artifacts from a Yurok site at Patrick's Point State Park, but only after he bragged about his accomplishment on a YouTube posting.cxix

I'm hopeful that the recently formed Coalition to Protect Yurok Cultural Legacies at O-pyúweg will bring together the Big Lagoon Rancheria, the Yurok Tribe, Descendants of Big Lagoon Yurok, Big Lagoon Park Company, County of Humboldt, California Department of Parks and Recreation, and independent experts as a model of cultural management and public remembrance.

"Everyone knew, but no one said," confesses novelist John Banville about the cruelties unleashed on thousand of children in Irish state institutions for most of the 20th century.cxx The same can be said about the people who remained silent during and after the Armenian genocide, the Nazi reign of terror, and bloody horrors of Rwanda. What happened in California after unspeakable policies of extermination, neglect, and humiliation, was a century of perfectly respectable grave looting that denied the dead the right to rest in peace.

Throughout much of the 20th century, while the government built memorials to the victims of World War I and World War II buried in mass graves, and tried for years to account for every missing person in the Vietnam War, hundreds of thousands of Indian remains were stored anonymously in basements and boxes, and displayed as mementos of a "vanishing race" or freak show curiosities. However much we have tried to assiduously forget this sorrowful past, history's tectonic layers continue to send shudders through the here and now. And they will continue to do so until we face the past in all its messy discomfort.

 

Footnotes

 

i Retrieved from artifacthound.com on April 14, 2008. Another site - westernartifacts.com - offered eleven abalone artifacts from Big Lagoon for prices ranging from $12 to $40.

ii Donna Tam, "Wiyot Tribe: Return Burial Artifacts, " Times-Standard, April 26, 2008.

iii California Penal Code, section 622.

iv Douglas J. Preston, "Skeletons in Our Museums' Closets," Harper's, February 1989, 67; Suzanne J. Crawford, "(Re)Constructing Bodies: Semiotic Sovereignty and the Debate Over Kenniwick Man," in Devon A. Mihesuah (ed.), Repatriation Reader: Who Owns American Remains, Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2000, 214.

v Robert E. Bieder, A Brief Historical Survey of the Expropriation of American Indian Remains, Native American Rights Fund, 1990, 12.

vi Ronald Niezen, Spirit Wars: Native North American Religions in the Age of National Building, Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000, 163.

vii Robert E. Bieder, Science Encounters the Indian: The Early Years of American Ethnology, Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1989, 79.

viii Ales Hrdlicka, Directions for Collecting Information and Specimens for Physical Anthropology, Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution, 1904.

ix Steven Conn, Museum s and American Intellectual Life, 1876-1926, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998, 99.

x Quoted in Bieder, Science, 67, footnote 24.

xi Robert E. Bieder, A Brief Historical Survey of the Expropriation of American Indian Remains, Native American Rights Fund, 1990, 24-25.

xii Quoted in Niezen, 181.

xiii Geronimo v. Obama, February 17, 2009, case #1:09-cv-00303, U. S. District Court.

xiv Walt Lara, Sr., "Respect for the Dead," Wings, 1996, Newsletter of SOARRING (Midwest Save Our Ancestors' Remains and Resources Indigenous Network Group), www.geocities.com/soarring/wings4.html.

xv Ernest De Massey, A Frenchman in the Gold Rush: The Journal of Ernest de Massey, Atgonaut of 1849, translated by Marguerite Eyer Wilbur, San Francisco: California Historical Society, 1927, 58.

xvi Thomas Gihon, "An Incident of the Gold Bluff Excitement," Overland Monthly, vol. 18, issue 108, December 1891; "Doing at Trinity City," Daily Alta California, July 10, 1850.

xvii Sue Silver, "History of California Cemetery Laws," www.usgennet.org/usa/ca/county/eldorado/history_law, retrieved December 11, 2008.

xviii University President Benjamin Ide Wheeler, quoted in Timothy H. H. Thoresen, "Kroeber and the Yurok, 1900-1908," in A. L. Kroeber, Yurok Myths, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1976, xxvi.

xix And about another 100 Indians, mostly Wiyot, were murdered at two other sites in coordinated attacks within twenty-four hours. Ray Raphael and Freeman House, Two Peoples, One Place, Eureka: Humboldt County Historical Society, 2007, 165, 174-175.

xx Llewellyn Loud, Ethnogeography and Archaeology of the Wiyot Territory, University of California, 1918.

xxi Letter from H. H. Stuart to Lila M. O'Neale (Acting Curator, Museum of Anthropology, University of California, San Francisco), c. February 15, 1931, MD-PAHMA. See, also, H. H. Stuart, "Zoomorphs," typed manuscript, December 10, 1956: 1, in "Archaeology and Geology" file, Humboldt County Historical Society, Eureka, California.

xxii This conclusion, while based on events in northwestern California, is applicable to other areas. For example, on the importance of "paraprofessional diggers" for the development of archaeology in Central California, see Arlean Towne, "History of Central Californian Archaeology, 1880-1940," M.A. thesis in Social Sciences, California State University, Sacramento, 1976.

xxiii The 12,000 figure is noted in Richard C. Paddock, "UC Berkeley's Bones of Contention," Los Angeles Times, January 13, 2008; the 8,000 figure was provided to me by Natasha Johnson, Collections Manager, NAGPRA Unit, Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology, University of California, Berkeley, April 22, 2008.

xxiv Elmer Hodgkinson, "Dr. Stuart Rediscovered A Lost People," Times Standard, March 8, 1970.

xxv According to an informational text at the Favell Museum in Klamath Falls, Oregon, Stuart's collection "included about 10,000 items collected over a period of 65 years." Stuart sold many of his most valuable items in 1973 for $13,500 to Gene Favell, founder of the Favell Museum. Information from Favell Museum Inventory of Records and Pat McMillan, director, July 16, 2008.

xxvi Stuart, 1.

xxvii Robert Heizer and A. B. Elsasser, who had access to Stuart's field notes, report in "Archaeology of HUM-67" that Stuart excavated 382 graves. Another archaeologist puts the number of graves at 390. See John E. Mills, "Recent Developments in the Study of Northwestern California Archaeology," Reports of the California Archaeological Survey no. 1, 1950,

xxviii Quoted by Frederic Golden, "Some Bones of Contention," Time, December 21, 1981.

xxix "Find Indian Relics at Big Lagoon," Arcata Union, April 29, 1926.

xxx The following analysis is based on H. H. Stuart's untitled field notes, dated May 24, 1931, and Stuart-related correspondence, accession no. 655, MD-PAHMA. Unless noted, the following information about Stuart comes from this source.

xxxi Information from accession cards, dated "Big Lagoon 1926," Cecile Clarke Papers, Clarke Historical Museum, Eureka, California (hereafter cited as CCP). One card refers to an "agreement" between Stuart and School Superintendent George B. Albee, who turned over the knives to Cecile Clarke, a teacher at Eureka High School.

xxxii Accession no. 655, MD-PAHMA.

xxxiii Letter from Gifford to Stuart, November 26, 1930; and Gifford to Robert G. Sproul, April 7, 1931, MD-PAHMA.

xxxiv Edward Winslow Gifford, Californian Anthropometry. Berkeley: University of California Publications in American Archology and Ethology, vol. 22, no. 2, 1926.

xxxv Alexandra Minna Stern, Eugenic Nation: Faults and Frontiers of Better Breeding in Modern America, Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005.

xxxvi This watershed federal law requires, inter alia, institutions receiving federal funding to publish an inventory of human remains and associated funerary objects with a view to their repatriation. See, generally, Kathleen S. Fine-Dare, Grave Injustice: The American Indian Repatriation Movement and NAGPRA, Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2002.

xxxvii Personal communication from Joan Knudsen, Registrar, PAHMA, June 4, 2008.

xxxviii Interview with Natasha Johnson, Collections Manager, PAHMA NAGPRA Unit, April 22, 2008.

xxxix H. H. Stuart, "Zoomorphs," December 10, 1956, 6. This manuscript is at the Humboldt County Historical Society,

xl Lavine, "Weird Objects."

xli Today, "excavation of human remains is a slow, delicate task." For a thoughtful discussion of ethical and technical issues, see William R. Hildebrandt and Michael J. Darcangelo, Life on the River: The Archaeology of an Ancient Native American Culture, Berkeley: Heyday Books, 2008, 84-86.

xlii Personal communication from Pat McMillan, Director, Favell Museum, Klamath Falls, Oregon, June 16, 2008. Today, most of Stuart's items are displayed in the Favell Museum without descriptive labels.

xliii Letter from Kroeber to Gifford, March 24, 1916, quoted in Orin Starn, Ishi's Brain: In Search of America's Last "Wild Indian," New York: W. W. Norton, 2004, 47.

xliv See diary entries for October 12 and December 7, 1967, CCP.

xlv Martha Roscoe, "Memories of Cecile Clarke," Clarke Museum Newsletter, vol. 1, no. 1, spring 1982. This interview is in the Martha Roscoe Collection, Humboldt County Historical Society, Eureka, California.

xlvi Two-page, handwritten, undated (c. 1935) notes, "Island History," CCP.

xlvii "Indian Relics of County To Be Preserved," Humboldt Standard, September 10, 1930.

xlviii Cecile Clarke diaries, 1932-1933, CCP.

xlix This permit, presumably issued in 1930, was revoked in a letter from H. W. Cole to Cecile Clarke, February 9, 1931, CCP.

l "Search for Indian Relics," Arcata Union, May 17, 1928.

li "Island History" and "1934: To Ralph Vicenus," CCP.

lii Albert Elasser and James Bennyhoff, "11 pages of Notes on Collection in Eureka Senior High School Museum. Mostly Eureka from Gunther Island (both sites) and Big Lagoon. Collected by Miss Cecile Clarke, Curator," October 30, 1953, Ms007, MD-PHMA.

liii Cecile Clarke diary entries, July 18 and 19, 1961; memorandum from Tom Hannah to Albert James, August 14, 1991, CCP.

liv Hannah's report on his Indian Island excavation and the official report on radiocarbon testing of HUM-67 (September 28, 1966) are in CCP. For a typically sensational report on a "lost tribe" of "very remarkable and intelligent people," see Lavine, "Weird Objects," February 10, 1952.

lv See, for example, Floyd Rinehart, "Ancient Indians Far Surpass ‘Moderns' in Craftsmanship," Times-Standard, November 7, 1965.

lvi In response, Tom Hannah threatened legal action for "accusations which attack my character and integrity." Letter from Albert E. James to Claudia Israel, director, Clarke Historical Museum, March 10, 1994; from Tom Hannah to Albert James, March 30, 1994, CCP.

lvii Mel Lavine, "Ancient Tombs Found On Humboldt Bay!" Humboldt Times, November 1, 1953; Stuart, Zoomorphs, 7.

lviii See, for example, several photographs of skulls and mug shots of living Indians in Edward Gifford's California Anthropometry (1926)

lix Henry Palm, "U. C. Unearths Relics of Odd Indian Tribe," San Francisco Examiner, September 12, 1948.

lx Lavine, "Ancient Tombs."

lxi Robert F. Heizer, "A Question of Ethics in Archaeology - One Archaeologist's View," The Journal of California Anthropology 1 and 2, 1974, 146.

lxii Letter from Cecile Clarke to B. H. Hathaway, February 24, 1932, and from Hathaway to Clarke, March 4, 1932, CCP.

lxiii Anderson, Barbour, and Whitworth, 18; Kroeber, Handbook, 883.

lxiv Mariana Ferreira, Sweet Tears and Bitter Pills: The Politics of Health Among Yuroks of Northern California. Berkeley: University of California Ph. D. dissertation in Medical Anthropology, 1996: 20.

lxv Lara, 1997.

lxvi Quoted by Commissioner Livingstone Stone, Report of Operations During 1874 at the U.S. Salmon Hatching Establishment on the McCloud River, California," April 1875.

lxvii Memorandum of Lease-Agreement, May 1, 1929, between The Little River Redwood Company and County of Humboldt; lease agreement between Hammond Lumber Company and Humboldt County, May 1, 1949. Thanks to Don Tuttle for providing me with copies of these leases.

lxviii Letter from H. W. Cole to Cecile Clarke, February 9, 1931, CCP.

lxix Introduction by Axel R. Lindgren to 1991 edition, published by Trinidad Museum Society, of Robert F. Heizer and John E. Mills, The Four Ages of Tsurai: A Documentary History of the Indian Village on Trinidad Bay. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1952

lxx These examples come from the Clarke Historical Museum's accession records.

lxxi Eidsness, 58.

lxxii From a description of the work of NICPA, founded in 1969, in "Catalog of Programs, 1966-1976," The Center for Community Development, Humboldt State University, 1976, 15. Thanks to Tom Parsons for providing copies of the Center's annual reports. The history of NICPA and the movement to stop desecration of Indian graves in Humboldt County will be the subject of a future report.

lxxiii Quoted by Lavine, "Weird Objects."

lxxiv Letter from Gifford to Stuart, October 15, 1948.

lxxv Emphasis added. Robert F. Heizer, "The California Archaeological Survey: Establishment, Aims and Methods," Reports of the California Archaeological Survey no. 1, University of California, Berkeley, Department of Anthropology, 1948.

lxxvi Franklin Fenega, "Methods for Archaeological Site Survey in California," Reports of the California Archaeological Survey, no 5, circa 1949, 2.

lxxvii Undated, handwritten letter from Jack (Mills) to Bob (Heizer), c. August 1949, Archaeological Archives Ms315, MD-PAHMA.

lxxviii Handwritten memo by Robert F. Heizer, c. 1954, Archaeological Archives Ms315, MD-PAHMA.

lxxix Heizer and Elsasser, "Archaeology of HUM-67," May 15, 1964, 2.

lxxx Letter from Heizer to A. E. Henning, February 26, 1948; and from Henning to Heizer, February 27, 1948, Archaeological Archives Ms097-A, MD-PAHMA.

lxxxi Some 2,275 items were significant enough to be recorded and accessioned. Despite searching the area where human remains were found, the team did not locate a cemetery. See Heizer, "Report on the Excavation of the Shellmound at Patrick's Point State Park," 1948, 17, 21-88. This report is on file at the State Park Archaeology Lab, Sacramento, California, R_106_16.pdf.

lxxxii Department of Anthropology Clip Sheet, August 17, 1948; Science Service press release, August 13, 1948, Archaeological Archives, Ms097-A, MD-PAHMA.

lxxxiii "Sea Lions Took Poor Indians for Joy Ride," Berkeley Daily Gazette, August 17, 1948.

lxxxiv Berkeley Daily Gazette, August 17, 1948.

lxxxv Beshore, "Relics of Early Indian Days." June 12, 1949.

lxxxvi Letter from Heizer to James P. Tryner, Division of Beaches and Parks, May 13, 1949, Archaeological Archives, Ms097-A, MD-PAHMA.

lxxxvii This account relies on confidential memoranda and letters written by Berkeley archaeologists, and therefore reflects their point of view. I have not been able to find Stuart and Miles' views about what happened. James Bennyhoff, untitled memo re August 5, 1949 and August 14, 1949, written February 23, 1954; undated, c. August 1949, handwritten letter from Jack Mills to Bob Heizer, Archaeological Archives, Ms315, MD-PAHMA.

lxxxviii Introduction by Axel Lindgren to Heizer and Mills, The Four Ages of Tsurai.

lxxxix Letter from J. M. Stewart to Robert Heizer, September 8, 1949, Archaeological Archives, Ms315, MD-PAHMA. Handwritten on the letter from Stewart, Heizer noted that he had called the Bureau of Indian Affairs official to tell him that Doc Stuart and Charles Miles were responsible for desecrating Yurok cemeteries.

xc Letter from J. R. Knowland to Heizer, November 25, 1949, Archaeological Archives, Ms97-B MD-PAHMA.

xci One of the leaders of this opposition was Ruth Smith, president of Eureka Women's Club and a former fellow teacher of Cecile Clarke at Eureka High School. See "Ruth E. Smith," The Humboldt Historian, vol. 39, no. 4, July-August 1991: 31.

xcii Letters from James Tryner, Patrick's Point State Park, to Robert Heizer, February 13, 1949; and from Robert Heizer to James Tryner, November 4, 1949. Both letters are on file at the State Park Archaeology Lab, Sacramento, California, R_106_16.pdf.

xciii Letter from Heizer to Tryner, May 27, 1950, ibid.

xciv Heizer, "A Question of Ethics," 1974.

xcv Letter from Robert Heizer to Arlean Towne, February 24, 1975, reproduced in Towne, Appendix E.

xcvi See, generally, Alvin M. Josephy, Jr., Joane Nagel, and Troy Johnson (eds.), Red Power: The American Indians' Fight for Freedom, second edition, Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1999.

xcvii Ibid, 209-213.

xcviii Lyng v. Northwest Indian Cemetery Protection Association was decided by the U. S. Supreme Court on April 19, 1988. For discussions of this important case, see Josephy et al., 218-227; and JeDon Emenhiser. "The G-O Road Controversy: American Indian Religion and Public Land," www.humboldt.edu/~jae1/emenLyng.html

xcix Hodgkinson, "Dr. Stuart Rediscovered." Times Standard, March 8, 1970.

c "Cox Warns on Grave Plundering," Times-Standard, April 4, 1970.

ci Michael J. Moratto, "Archaeology and Cross Cultural Ethics in Coastal Northwest California," Society for California Archaeology, April 1971, reprinted in Robert E. Schenk Archives of California Archaeology; "Archaeological Remains Concern of Area Indians," Del Norte Triplicate, June 24, 1970. The confrontation at Tsahpekw - including allegations of threats of violence - is also reported by Peter D. Schulz, "Background Report on NAGPRA-Related Issues Involving Archaeological Collections from Site HUM-129," August 11, 2003, on file at the State Park Archaeology Lab, Sacramento, California, R_105_12.pdf.

cii County of Humboldt, Board of Supervisors, Resolution no. 71-14, March 16, 1971.

ciii Letter from Milton Marks and James Benson, representing NICPA, to Governor Jerry Brown, August 24, 1976, Messages received by Governor re Assembly Bill 4239, Legislative Papers, California State Archives, Office of the Secretary of State, Sacramento, California.

civ Margaret Dubin, "Preserving California's Indian Heritage: The Native American Heritage Commission," News From Native California, vol. 21, no. 3, Spring 2008, 23-30; Tsim D. Schneider, "Law That Affect the Commission's Work," News From Native California, vol. 21, no. 3, Spring 2008, 27-30; "Native American Heritage Commission History, www.nahc.ca.gov/nahc_history.

cv "Native American Heritage Commission History," www.nahc.ca.gov/nahc_history.html.

cvi Golden, "Some Bones of Contention."

cvii Buckley, 48; Patrick's Point State Park, "Sumeg Village," pamphlet, 2005.

cviii Wiyot Tribe, "History and Culture," www.wiyot.com/history, retrieved April 2, 2008.

cix Janet Eidsness, "Places and People: California's Native American Heritage Resources," paper delivered at annual meeting of Society for California Archaeology in Riverside, 2004; Hildebrandt and Darcangelo, Life on The River.

cx Interview with David Fredrickson, April 23, 2008.

cxi John W. Milburn, David A. Fredrickson, Meredith Dreiss, Laurie Demichael, and Wendy Van Dusen, "A Preliminary Report on the Archaeology of CA-Hum-129," California Department of Parks and Recreation, January 1979: 11-14. This report is on file at the State Park Archaeology Lab, Sacramento, California, R_105_4.pdf.

cxii For a useful summary of national and state legislation, see Schneider, 5-8.

cxiii On this very contentious issue, see Richard Paddock, "UC Berkeley's Bones of Contention"; and www.nagpra-ucb-faq.blogspot.com.

cxiv Personal communication from Pam Service, Director, April 12, 2008.

cxv Personal communication, May 22, 2009.

cxvi Ed Lion, "Ancient Yurok Village Plundered by Vandals," Times Standard, December 30, 1989.

cxvii Elaine Weinreb, "Conflict Over Ancient Yurok Villigage in Trinidad," McKinleyville Press, April 1, 2009.

cxviii In 2000, a collector was convicted of digging up graves at Tsahpekw; and in 2007, a looter was convicted of excavating human remains and artifacts from a burial site at Tsurai. See Janet P. Eidsness, "It Takes a Tribe: Looter Convicted in Humboldt County and New Legislation Proposed," California Archaeological Site Stewardship Program Newsletter, April, 2002; and Sarah Hobart, "Grave Robber Sentenced," McKinleyville Press, March 6, 2007.

cxix Jessie Faulkner, "YouTube Video Leads to Graverobber's Arrest," Times-Standard, December 20, 2008.

cxx John Banville, "A Century of Looking the Other Way," New York Times, May 23, 2009, A17.

 

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Grew up in Eureka - my neighbor when i was a kid was born in Eureka about 1880 and was raised on a farm on what's now 6th & C. She remembered walking on Gunther Island as a kid and picking up baskets and beads "just laying on the ground" - she still had them when she told me about this in the late 60's early 70's. Thanks for writing about this and doing so much research. People need to know.

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Posted by dc on 06/19/2009 at 12:39 AM

This is a very heartbreaking story. It is still shocking, even though I have known about some of what happened and each time I hear more, I feel sick inside. Although this has moved me to tears, I want to tell you how much I appreciate you writing this story, Tony Platt. I did not know this story, and it deepens the wounds. The same thing is still going on, with all the unjust bloody murders "in the name of freedom" in places like Viet Nam and Iraq, and now Pakistan and Afghanistan. Oh, is North Korea next? This bloody cycle has to end, before the healing can begin. The Native American's took care of this land for thousands of years. Instead of closing the State Parks, let the Native American people who are decedents of this travesty be trained to take care of the State Parks. On behalf of all white people who did these terrible things, may I personally extend a heart-felt apology for this travesty done to all Native American Peoples. In the paper copy of this story I read that Clark Museum says, "It appears that the Clarke is not technically required to comply with NAGPRA because the museum has received no direct federal funding since the passage of that law., and goes on to say they are in the first step...ENOUGH EXCUSES ALREADY... why say such a thing??? Just say you are deeply sorry and return things, and leave all that legal mumbo jumbo out as it seems to lack compassion.

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Posted by mystified on 06/19/2009 at 10:18 PM

Thank you Tony Platt. Thank you North Coast Journal.

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Posted by turtlehead on 06/20/2009 at 10:47 AM
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