"These are not just a bunch of bones," she said. "They are remains from our ancestors and we have to treat them with dignity and respect."
White said that he has been unfairly portrayed as attempting to block repatriation. He believes in a strict interpretation of the law and speedy repatriation of any bones affiliated with federal tribes. He said he objects to handing over bones with no clear tribal affiliation, a move that he says could devastate the museum's collection and end his teaching.
"Perhaps I understand the value of these remains in a way that nobody else does," he said. "There are very few skeletal collections in the world representing hunting and gathering people. Ours is one of the largest. This tiny fraction of the Native Americans that were in California before contact with Europeans represents the major window which we have on the past in California."
Different Paths to Same Objective
The UC president's office and Berkeley's administration say that they feel caught between two impassioned academics fighting for the same goal--preservation of a priceless anthropological collection.