News FocusScience and Native Rights

Walking in Two Worlds

Science  08 Oct 2010:
Vol. 330, Issue 6001, pp. 168-169
DOI: 10.1126/science.330.6001.168

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Summary

The small but growing number of Native American archaeologists sometimes find themselves torn between their culture and their profession, as tribal traditions clash with scientific inquiry. Now new government rules, which allow tribes to claim "unaffiliated" remains and objects, are likely to stir up old tensions, as researchers fear a loss to science (see main text). The central conflict these archaeologists face is how to deal with human remains, because cultural and religious beliefs make handling them all but prohibited for many Native Americans.

*Keith Kloor is a writer in New York City.