I would like to thank the North Coast Journal for your recent articles regarding the indigenous peoples of Humboldt and Del Norte counties. I am especially appreciative of Tony Platt's article on the history of graverobbing that still occurs among Native American graves in our region ("Grave Matters," June 18). It is important that people know these heinous acts occur even today.
I would like to thank Hank Sims for making the crucial connection between individual grave robbers and institutions that enable and even enrich these people ("Town Dandy," June 18). If there wasn't a market, there probably wouldn't be people who stole from Native graves. No one steals from early pioneer graves here in Humboldt, do they? No, because UC Berkeley and other universities don't "study" that aspect of history. Bravo to Mr. Sims for recognizing this in print.
This article makes me think about how Humboldt County, the state of California and the United States federal government enabled individual murderers to kill Native people for bounties during the Gold Rush of 1848 through 1860. When the highest forms of government or academics authorize death or desecration it becomes genocide. It is not just the random act of a few deranged individuals. So when people steal from our ancestors, they are continuing the genocide of local Indigenous cultures, and our country is supposed to oppose such crimes against humanity.
I would also like to point out that while we might never stop every individual thief who steals from the dead, we must continue to educate non-Native people about the strong and vibrant Native American communities we have here on the North Coast. Our basketry, our traditional dances and our artistic endeavors all revolve around the concept of shared responsibility toward the environment we live in and the people we live around. If your reporters would like to meet with me, I can introduce them to some of this state's finest citizens, who happen to descend from the original people of this region, and who continue to make a positive impact as parents, educators, academics, artists, traditional dancers, traditional singers, health care providers, writers, tribal police, veterans, tribal administrators, linguists, biologists, fishermen, students and elders.
I thank your paper and writers for printing important knowledge regarding Native American history, culture and people.
Chag Lowry, Eureka