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UCSD hands slapped for not returning Indian relics

Juan Vargas staffers, Darrell Issa treated by Middle East lobbyists

UCSD’s Office of the President has not yet ensured that campuses have the guidance necessary to return their NAGPRA collections in a timely and consistent manner.
UCSD’s Office of the President has not yet ensured that campuses have the guidance necessary to return their NAGPRA collections in a timely and consistent manner.

Buried in bureaucracy

Unnamed UCSD professors have been improperly hoarding human remains and relics of Native American tribes for their personal use, says a new state audit of the University of California’s compliance with the federal Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, otherwise known as NAGPRA. “Two of the campuses we reviewed — Riverside and San Diego — have recently discovered large portions of their NAGPRA collections,” says the November 17 report by acting California State Auditor Michael S. Tilden. “These discoveries are associated with researchers who, in some cases, chose to retain the remains and cultural items to further their personal research instead of reporting them to campus officials for return to the tribes to which they belong.” The audit lays much of the blame on similarly unnamed university administrators.

Michael Tilden wants to bring the bones home.

“Following the passing of NAGPRA, campuses did not perform the actions necessary to ensure that they had completely inventoried and repatriated their collections of remains and cultural items.” Per the report, “We reviewed the university’s campuses at Berkeley, Riverside, Santa Barbara, and San Diego and found they continue to maintain large collections and that some have yet to completely review all the remains and cultural items in their control. Because of the size of some of these campuses’ collections, they will likely not fully repatriate their collections for at least a decade. In fact, the university’s Office of the President has not yet ensured that campuses have the guidance necessary to return their collections in a timely and consistent manner.”

The document continues, “Because the Office of the President has not ensured consistency in how campuses respond to newly discovered collections, tribes have reported having different experiences when working with campuses to reclaim their ancestors, which created an unnecessary level of frustration and complexity for those tribes.”

According to Tilden’s cover letter, “The Office of the President has not ensured that campuses prioritize completing their repatriation implementation plans. Since July 2020, the Office of the President has required campuses to create these plans, but it did not set a deadline for their completion. In the absence of a deadline, the four campuses we reviewed have yet to complete them as of mid‐October 2022. Finally, campuses have not formally committed to providing long‐term, sustainable funding for their repatriation‐related activities.

Sponsored
Sponsored

"Nor has the Office of the President dedicated funds beyond fiscal year 2022–23 to support campuses’ repatriation activities. Because of the uncertainty surrounding the funding necessary to support campuses’ repatriation efforts, we believe this approach is shortsighted and may undermine recent efforts by the university to further repatriation.”

Middle Eastern freebies

In September, two staffers from the office of South Bay House Democrat Juan Vargas raised eyebrows by going along on separate tours of Israel, paid for by the American Israel Education Foundation, an affiliate of the lobbying group American Israel Public Affairs Committee. Now comes Amy Surber, a Senior Policy Adviser to Congressional Republican Darrell Issa, with a disclosure report of her own special interest-sponsored trip to Beirut, Lebanon, from October 23 to 28.

Amy Surber: looking for a little learning in Lebanon.

Paid for by the American Task Force on Lebanon, transportation costs were $1395.72, lodging ran $660, and meals cost $166.66, along with an $88 visa processing charge. “Rep. Issa is the co-chair of the Congressional US-Lebanon Friendship Caucus and is a senior member on the House Foreign Affairs Committee,” wrote Surber in the justification for going on the trip. “In my role as senior policy advisor with the foreign affairs committee assignment and defense portfolio, this trip will prove indispensably educational and broaden my understanding of the region as a whole.”

Surber’s profile on Legistorm.com says she has a “public relations and rhetorical advocacy” BA from Fordham University. Lodging was at the Sofitel Beirut Le Gabriel, described by Surber’s disclosure as a “Comfortable, cost-friendly stay located centrally in the capital city of Beirut, where the majority of meetings will be held.” Expedia describes the place as a “5-star luxury hotel located in Achrafieh.”

In November of last year, Issa himself went to Beirut, thanks to a freebie from American Task Force on Lebanon. A self-made super-rich car alarm magnate, Issa’s free travel cost the task force $4766, with lodging running $888 and meals at $315. Said Issa’s disclosure: “Traveler is a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and a member of the U.S.-Lebanon Friendship Caucus. The subject matter relates to his work on the Committee and the Caucus.” The American Task Force on Lebanon is led by ex U.S. ambassador to Morocco from 1997 to 2001 Edward Gabriel, who has of late been lobbying for the United States to help topple the current Hezbollah-linked government in upcoming presidential elections.

“The Hezbollah-allied coalition has its own client candidate — or candidates — lined up,” writes Gabriel in a September 7 op-ed piece for The Hill. “Unfortunately, the reformist opposition coalition is less centralized and has yet to agree on its preferred candidates. It is imperative that this coalition try to agree on an effective strategy and identify presidential candidates to leverage votes in parliament and block the election of another Hezbollah client. The election of an independent, reform-minded president could help turn the country’s fortunes around.”

So far, though, per a November 11 Associated Press report, stalemate has resulted. “Lebanon’s parliament failed to elect a new president in five attempts after the term of President Michel Aoun, a strong ally of Hezbollah, ended on Oct. 31. That left Lebanon in a political vacuum with a caretaker government that does not have full powers as the country is roiling in the worst economic and financial crisis in its modern history.”

— Matt Potter

(@sdmattpotter)

The Reader offers $25 for news tips published in this column. Call our voice mail at 619-235-3000, ext. 440, or sandiegoreader.com/staff/matt-potter/contact/.

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UCSD’s Office of the President has not yet ensured that campuses have the guidance necessary to return their NAGPRA collections in a timely and consistent manner.
UCSD’s Office of the President has not yet ensured that campuses have the guidance necessary to return their NAGPRA collections in a timely and consistent manner.

Buried in bureaucracy

Unnamed UCSD professors have been improperly hoarding human remains and relics of Native American tribes for their personal use, says a new state audit of the University of California’s compliance with the federal Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, otherwise known as NAGPRA. “Two of the campuses we reviewed — Riverside and San Diego — have recently discovered large portions of their NAGPRA collections,” says the November 17 report by acting California State Auditor Michael S. Tilden. “These discoveries are associated with researchers who, in some cases, chose to retain the remains and cultural items to further their personal research instead of reporting them to campus officials for return to the tribes to which they belong.” The audit lays much of the blame on similarly unnamed university administrators.

Michael Tilden wants to bring the bones home.

“Following the passing of NAGPRA, campuses did not perform the actions necessary to ensure that they had completely inventoried and repatriated their collections of remains and cultural items.” Per the report, “We reviewed the university’s campuses at Berkeley, Riverside, Santa Barbara, and San Diego and found they continue to maintain large collections and that some have yet to completely review all the remains and cultural items in their control. Because of the size of some of these campuses’ collections, they will likely not fully repatriate their collections for at least a decade. In fact, the university’s Office of the President has not yet ensured that campuses have the guidance necessary to return their collections in a timely and consistent manner.”

The document continues, “Because the Office of the President has not ensured consistency in how campuses respond to newly discovered collections, tribes have reported having different experiences when working with campuses to reclaim their ancestors, which created an unnecessary level of frustration and complexity for those tribes.”

According to Tilden’s cover letter, “The Office of the President has not ensured that campuses prioritize completing their repatriation implementation plans. Since July 2020, the Office of the President has required campuses to create these plans, but it did not set a deadline for their completion. In the absence of a deadline, the four campuses we reviewed have yet to complete them as of mid‐October 2022. Finally, campuses have not formally committed to providing long‐term, sustainable funding for their repatriation‐related activities.

Sponsored
Sponsored

"Nor has the Office of the President dedicated funds beyond fiscal year 2022–23 to support campuses’ repatriation activities. Because of the uncertainty surrounding the funding necessary to support campuses’ repatriation efforts, we believe this approach is shortsighted and may undermine recent efforts by the university to further repatriation.”

Middle Eastern freebies

In September, two staffers from the office of South Bay House Democrat Juan Vargas raised eyebrows by going along on separate tours of Israel, paid for by the American Israel Education Foundation, an affiliate of the lobbying group American Israel Public Affairs Committee. Now comes Amy Surber, a Senior Policy Adviser to Congressional Republican Darrell Issa, with a disclosure report of her own special interest-sponsored trip to Beirut, Lebanon, from October 23 to 28.

Amy Surber: looking for a little learning in Lebanon.

Paid for by the American Task Force on Lebanon, transportation costs were $1395.72, lodging ran $660, and meals cost $166.66, along with an $88 visa processing charge. “Rep. Issa is the co-chair of the Congressional US-Lebanon Friendship Caucus and is a senior member on the House Foreign Affairs Committee,” wrote Surber in the justification for going on the trip. “In my role as senior policy advisor with the foreign affairs committee assignment and defense portfolio, this trip will prove indispensably educational and broaden my understanding of the region as a whole.”

Surber’s profile on Legistorm.com says she has a “public relations and rhetorical advocacy” BA from Fordham University. Lodging was at the Sofitel Beirut Le Gabriel, described by Surber’s disclosure as a “Comfortable, cost-friendly stay located centrally in the capital city of Beirut, where the majority of meetings will be held.” Expedia describes the place as a “5-star luxury hotel located in Achrafieh.”

In November of last year, Issa himself went to Beirut, thanks to a freebie from American Task Force on Lebanon. A self-made super-rich car alarm magnate, Issa’s free travel cost the task force $4766, with lodging running $888 and meals at $315. Said Issa’s disclosure: “Traveler is a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and a member of the U.S.-Lebanon Friendship Caucus. The subject matter relates to his work on the Committee and the Caucus.” The American Task Force on Lebanon is led by ex U.S. ambassador to Morocco from 1997 to 2001 Edward Gabriel, who has of late been lobbying for the United States to help topple the current Hezbollah-linked government in upcoming presidential elections.

“The Hezbollah-allied coalition has its own client candidate — or candidates — lined up,” writes Gabriel in a September 7 op-ed piece for The Hill. “Unfortunately, the reformist opposition coalition is less centralized and has yet to agree on its preferred candidates. It is imperative that this coalition try to agree on an effective strategy and identify presidential candidates to leverage votes in parliament and block the election of another Hezbollah client. The election of an independent, reform-minded president could help turn the country’s fortunes around.”

So far, though, per a November 11 Associated Press report, stalemate has resulted. “Lebanon’s parliament failed to elect a new president in five attempts after the term of President Michel Aoun, a strong ally of Hezbollah, ended on Oct. 31. That left Lebanon in a political vacuum with a caretaker government that does not have full powers as the country is roiling in the worst economic and financial crisis in its modern history.”

— Matt Potter

(@sdmattpotter)

The Reader offers $25 for news tips published in this column. Call our voice mail at 619-235-3000, ext. 440, or sandiegoreader.com/staff/matt-potter/contact/.

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