John McCain has been trying to sneak in an amendment to NAGPRA, The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, that would effectively gut it for the benefit of a few Indian tribes. (Previous posts on this topic are here and here.) This is a big deal, because if the tribes get their way they will be able to veto the study of any prehistoric human remains found in the USA, even if those remains have no connection to existing tribes.
Moira Breen, who has been at the forefront of Internet efforts to block the hijacking of NAGPRA, reports that popular opposition to McCain has had some effect, but that McCain is not giving up and plans a stacked hearing to ram his amendment through. It is therefore important for concerned individuals to contact their Congressional representatives (again) ASAP and make their opinions known.
I repost Moira’s note in its entirety:
Status update on S.536 Section 108:
Thanks again to all of you who blogged on McCain’s stealth amendment to NAGPRA
(Section 108, S.536). A public hearing on this amendment is now scheduled
for 14 June. I heard through the grapevine that the decision to hold a
hearing on this deplorable “‘was’ vs. ‘is'” amendment was effected by the
number and variety of citizens who wrote in protest. I know many people
wrote to say they’d contacted their congressmen; I’d like to think the
blogosphere had a hand in getting this into the light.
Unfortunately, as you will note, the hearing has been scheduled on very short
notice, and no public notice has been given. Furthermore, word is that the
hearing invitations are very much biased against the opponents of the
amendment (possibly 5-1 or 4-2), and no time was allowed for the advocates of
the underrepresented side to organize, re-arrange their schedules, and find
an affordable flight to Washington. Obviously McCain et al. consider this
hearing to be an inconvenience, temporarily interfering with their efforts to
ignore the establishment clause of the First Amendment and the public’s
interest in scientific inquiry.
So now I’m doing my Struthers-esque “save the skeletons” act one more time:
time is short, and I’m asking bloggers and readers to make their views known
once again to their representatives and to all the members of the Senate
Indian Affairs Committee – and perhaps to ask what’s the big damned hurry
here. Friends of America’s Past has all the amendment and contact info. (And, of course, you can find more background at my joint.)