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Chumash Bones Are Reburied on Island

October 02, 1997|HILARY E. MacGREGOR

A descendant of the Chumash Indians who once lived on Santa Cruz Island and two other Chumash held a funeral ceremony Wednesday to rebury the 1,800-year-old bones of a female dug up a year ago.

The small private ceremony was held on the island exactly one year after Brian Krantz of Ventura, then a caretaker and hunting guide for Island Adventures, unearthed the remains of the Chumash woman at a grave site near the island's airstrip.

In September, a Santa Barbara Superior Court jury found Krantz guilty of deliberately desecrating the ancient Chumash Indian grave site.

He was arrested in January when National Park Service rangers and Santa Barbara County sheriff's deputies in Blackhawk helicopters staged a commando-style raid at the Gherini Ranch on the east end of Santa Cruz Island. The raid took place shortly before the National Park Service took over the 6,700-acre Gherini Ranch on Feb. 10.

A year ago, two park service rangers posed as wealthy hunters and witnessed Krantz unearth the remains. One ranger secretly tape-recorded a conversation with Krantz as he dug bones out of the grave with his hands.

On Wednesday, the bones were once again laid to rest in the same grave.

Julie Tumamait, who lives in Ojai, is said to be the closest living relative of the Chumash woman whose bones were dug up. Her great-grandfather's parents are from the Santa Cruz Island village--Nanawani--where the bones were found, Tumamait said.

For the funeral ceremony, she donned her traditional regalia, including an apron of mink. Over that she wore a skirt of deerskin with abalone buttons, as well as an abalone necklace and earrings.

Carol Spears, chief of interpretation for Channel Islands National Park, said the Native Americans held a cleansing ceremony for park officials by burning sage and expressing their thanks.

"It was very moving," Spears said.

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