Archive for Sunday, April 28, 2002

Shunning history

April 28, 2002

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To the editor:

I have a question. What is racism? I think I have an answer. Racism is when it's illegal to pillage a Civil War battlefield like Gettysburg , but it's ok to conduct a search for remains so that more desecration can take place in areas sacred to First Nation's Peoples.

Racism also takes place when a complete search for remains would be illegal according to the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) and Kansas legal statutes regarding unmarked burials, yet a newspaper prints a story as if a complete search was done, and a road should be completed in the next year.

Racism is when an area's lack of consciousness about the ugly picture of real history is suppressed, and people don't want to be reminded of the past. If Haskell's being treated this badly now, who wants to think about what happened at the beginning of the 20th Century?

Who wants to know about the ethnocentrism that allowed early anthropologists to treat Native Peoples as less than human in studies? Who wants to know about the 1906 Antiquities Act that gave academics full run of collecting native remains and objects so abusively that federal laws like NAGPRA had to be passed to stop this abuse in 1990? Who wants to know about the universities who still throw a fit or act secretively about their anthropology collections? At least the Nebraska State Historical Society acknowledges the presence of graves surrounding the campus of the Genoa Indian School on their state historical markers.

Mike Ford,

Lawrence

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