Academe: Old Bones, New Fight

Old Bones, New Fight

The gesture seemed nice: Stanford University would return some 550 ancient remains to the Ohlone Indians. "Indian beliefs hold ancestral remains to be sacred," wrote Stanford provost James Rosse. The result, though, was one nasty academic fight. Bert Gerow, an emeritus professor of anthropology at Stanford and curator of the remains for about 40 years, immediately announced he was the owner of most of them. Thereupon the chairman of Stanford's anthropology department, James Lowell Gibbs Jr., had the locks changed on the collection. The wrangle grew wider as scientists contemplated the loss of the bones, some up to 3,000 years old,...

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