In 2006, a University of California professor discovered two skeletons, alter shown to be over 9000 years old, buried under the UCSD chancellor’s home. Since then, the skeletons have been the center of a legal dispute between the University and the Kumeyaay Indians of San Diego.
The Kumeyaay Indians
wish to re-bury the remains and claim that the bones were taken from ancestral tribal lands. According to U-T San Diego
, in April 2012 representatives filed a lawsuit to reclaim the bones.
The move by the Kumeyaay Indians has been counter challenged by a group of UCSC professors, who wish to keep the skeletons for study and research. The professors aim to extract DNA from the bones and to research the diet and lifestyles of the earliest humans to settle in North America.
The professors claim there is no evidence that the skeletons are of Kumeyaay origin, claiming that the bones pre-date the Kumeyaay.
However, the Kumeyaay Cultural Repatriation Committee
have stated "KCRC has over the years criticized the treatment and disrespectful handling and study of the Native American remains, especially the lacquering of the remains to preserve them."
reports that the judge overseeing the case has signed an injunction to extend a temporary restraining order keeping the bones in the custody of University of California, San Diego.
The legal case will be an interesting one to follow and may have implications for other remains held by universities or in museums.