January 19, 2012

Tribal Tribulations

Hatched by Dafydd

Under a 2010 rule from President Barack H. Obama's Interior Department, all "culturally unidentifiable remains" of persons who died in the Americas thousands of years ago now belong, by executive fiat, to -- wait for it -- "tribes whose current or ancestral lands harbored the remains." In short, every museum, university, or research center engaged in the evidently disrespectful crime of the study of Man must now collect all the bones they've been testing and ship them to whichever modern-day tribe lives closest to where the bones were found:

New federal protections could mean that most of the remains of an estimated 160,000 Native Americans held by universities, museums, and federal government agencies may soon be transferred to tribes.

Under the new regulations, museums and agencies are required to notify tribes whose current or ancestral lands harbored the remains that the tribe is entitled to have them back.

Back? When did they ever have them in the first place?

Yeah, well, kiss the field of anthropology goodbye: Regardless of where any particular tribe lives now, tribes collectively claim that tribal "Native American" ancestral lands cover all of North and South America; hence any non-European remains must be "returned" to tribes that didn't even exist five or six thousand years ago, when the bones were inside a living person.

This is exactly the sort of anti-science outrage that belies the claim that Obama or the Democratic Party has anything to do with "progress."

This ruling (that "unidentified" actually means "identified as belonging to some Indian tribe") is of a piece with the absurdity that all museums and universities should "return" Pharaohic artifacts to modern-day Egyptians -- who are not in any way related to the Egyptians who created those artifacts. Modern Egyptians are Arabs who speak, read, and write Arabic; they are much more closely related to Saudi Arabian Bedouins than to Ramses or Tutankhamen. They simply wandered into Egypt millennia after the Pharaohs' civilization collapsed -- squatters in an empty building who demand the return of all the paintings that used to hang in the lobbies.

And notice Obama's Interior Department offers no such solicitude for the remains of people of European descent; museums needn't return the remains of Conquistadors to Spain.

Let's state it bluntly: People who lived millennia ago have no living next of kin and do not belong to any modern country, state, or tribe. It's utter lunacy. Too, allowing scientists to study prehistorical remains does not in any conceivable way disrespect people living in modern-day "tribes"... even if we assume for sake of argument that tribalism itself isn't a barbaric anachronism anyway, generally meaning only a collection of people with the privilege to operate a casino in despite of local laws.

A big wet-fish handshake to President B.O. for this wonderful parting gift to the American scientific community. (I wonder if the latter, as other minorities have, will begin to rethink its abuse-ridden love affair with the Left?)

[Hat tip to Friend Lee.]

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, January 19, 2012, at the time of 1:14 PM

Comments

The following hissed in response by: Eris Guy

The act dates from 1990 and bureaucratic implementation is ongoing. I don't see the problem. If these people wish to be erased from history, let them. Will our scientific knowledge be less? Yes, but so many peoples' legacies are already absent.

The above hissed in response by: Eris Guy [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 20, 2012 8:33 AM

The following hissed in response by: mdgiles

They do realize that many of the tribes now living nearest to where bones were discovered are recent interlopers and conquerors. Many of the plains tribes, for example, moved to their present locations after the reintroduction of the horse by the Spaniards. The mound builders of the Midwest disappeared about the time of the first Spanish explorers. If I'm not mistaken, the Six Nations moved north from further south driving out the original inhabitants.

The above hissed in response by: mdgiles [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 20, 2012 9:15 AM

The following hissed in response by: Beldar

I expect the subjects of these regulations will likely vote Democratic in 2012.

The above hissed in response by: Beldar [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 22, 2012 8:53 PM

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