The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Taino: An Abuse of Power

The Voice of the Taino People Online has an interesting post up concerning the discovery of a five acre site near J&#225cana, Puerto Rico:

The ancient petroglyph of the woman was found on a five-acre site in Jácana, a spot along the Portugues River in the city of Ponce, on Puerto Rico’s southern coast. Among the largest and most significant ever unearthed in the Caribbean, archaeologists said, the site includes plazas used for ceremony or sport, a burial ground, residences and a midden mound — a pile of ritual trash.

The site was discovered by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers during the construction of a dam. The Corps called in an American salvage archaeology crew and a large number of artifacts were shipped to the US for storage. A legal argument could be made that this was the correct thing to do, however, in terms of cultural sensitivity this has to be one of the dumbest things I have ever heard. The people of Puerto Rico were justifiably pissed. Enough of a fuss has been made that the Corp is planning on returning what it took:

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers promises the collection sent to Georgia will be returned to Puerto Rico. Some 75 boxes of skeletons, ceramics, small petroglyphs and rocks were sent via Federal Express in two double-boxed shipments for analysis.

Apparently NAGPRA meant squat to the Corps, which is surprising considering they went out of their way to prevent further excavations at the Kennewick site…At any rate, follow the link above and read the entire story.

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