TThe most vulnerable members of the Weyacht were asleep on the morning of February 26, 1860, when a group of whites slipped into the north. California I slaughtered the village in the dark.
Many children, women and the elderly killed in what became known as the slaughter of Indian islands were prevented from eternal rest when tombs were dug and skeletons and relics were placed in museums. I did.
Nearly 70 years away from their tribe, the bodies of at least 20 of those believed to have been killed were returned home.
“They will rest in peace with our other ancestors,” said Ted Hernandez, historic conservation officer of the Weyacht tribe, this week after the return was announced. “They will be able to reunite with their families.”
Return is part of the efforts of several agencies to do a better job in compliance with federal law requiring the return of items looted from the sacred burial ground to the tribe.
Grave robbery Native American And their descendants long after they were expelled or killed from their land. Enthusiasts, collectors, and even prominent researchers participated in the blasphemy of the burial ground. Skulls, bones and ancient relics were sold, traded, researched and exhibited at the museum.
Cutcha Risling Baldy, a professor of Native American studies at Humboldt State University, said returning sacred items would bring healing to the tribe.
She criticized museums and universities for storing items that make Native Americans objective and returning them to historical objects and artifacts rather than humans.
“It’s hard to imagine the tombs of your ancestors being dug up and put into a museum, from a spiritual, cultural, or even human perspective,” Risling Baldy said. “It creates a myth around the indigenous people that we are somehow specimens, not people or humans.”
According to a Federal Register notice last year, the bones of Weyacht were recovered in 1953 after being found near the site of a jetty outside the city of Eureka, 225 miles (362 km) north of San Francisco. rice field.
A team at the University of California, Berkeley collected the relics and embedded and stored 136 artifacts. Primarily beads and ornaments made of shells, arrowheads of broken jar debris, fishing net sinkers, bone tools, elk teeth.
The cemetery was where Weyacht buried some of the dead after a series of devastating mass slaughter in dozens of villages during the week of 1860.
According to Hernandez, an unprovoked killing occurred during the tribe’s world renewal ceremony. This is a 10-day peaceful celebration with food, dance and prayer to restore balance to the planet.
After the ceremony, the tribes departed at night, rowing from the island to the mainland looking for food, fishing, and collecting firewood for the next day’s feast.
Early in the morning, assailants arrived by canoe across the bay, stabbing, beating, and hacking victims with knives, clubs, and hatchets. Several other attacks took place that night, with more killings in the next five days, said Humboldt County historian Jerry Lord.
More than 50 people died on the island, and 500 could have died in a week, Rohde said. The New York Times account killed 188 people.
The vigilants were called “thugs,” but they were not publicly named or held accountable.
Young Brett Hart, who will be one of the most popular writers of the day, just wrote a bitter editorial about the bloodshed of Northern California, a newspaper in the northern city.
“When the bodies landed in the union, the eyes of Christians and civilizations had never seen such a shocking and rebellious sight,” he wrote.
But that wasn’t public opinion in the region, Rohde said. The editors of the Humboldt Times advocated the elimination or extinction of indigenous peoples. Hate fled to San Francisco under threat of murder.
Some men boasted about the killings, and the other two who were allegedly involved were elected to the state legislature, Rohde said.
Wiyot began seeking the return of its ancestors in 2016 under the Native American Cemetery Protection and Return Act. The law made it illegal to steal from graves and required government agencies to return their belongings.
But getting them back wasn’t always easy.
UCB, which kept the remains at the Hurst Anthropology Museum, rejected the request because of lack of evidence, said Tom Torma, the university’s return coordinator.
Tolma was aware of the incident because he submitted a request as a History Preservator of Weyacht at the time.
A 2020 state audit revealed that the University of California had an inconsistent policy on how it returned home. The University of California, Los Angeles returned the most qualified remains, while Berkeley returned only 20%.
According to audits, UCB, which houses 10,000 Native American bodies, the largest collection in the United States, also regularly requested additional evidence to delay returns.
The campus has taken a racial perspective in recent years, including its history with Native Americans.
Last year, the university removed Alfred Clover’s name from the hall that houses the Faculty of Anthropology and the Museum. Croeber, a pioneer in American anthropology, has left a Native American collection or approved collection for research.
He was best known for the custody of a stone called the “Last Yahi” that emerged from the wilderness in 1911. He demonstrated how to make stone tools and crafts as a living exhibit for museum visitors.
The university system revised its return policy last year, based in part on the opinions of the tribes. According to Torma, UCB’s new committee has taken a more aggressive approach and has determined that there is sufficient evidence to return Wiyot items.
The return was in collaboration with the US Army Corps of Engineers, who was responsible for the construction of the jetty that may have unearthed the wreckage.
For the Wiyot tribe, he returned last fall two years after the island, now known as Tuluwat, was returned to the tribe by the city of Eureka.
According to Hernandez, it is the tribal elders who decide what to do with the remains.
The dead are already part of their ritual. When dancing and praying take place, the sacred fire continues to burn for their ancestors.
“They will be able to continue the ritual in the afterlife,” Hernandez said.
“They will be peaceful”: University of California returns the bodies of slaughtered members of the Weyacht tribe | Native American
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