38 McGeorge L. Rev. 299 (2007)
Grave Disturbances: Been Digging Lately

handle is hein.journals/mcglr38 and id is 319 raw text is: Public Resources

Grave Disturbances: Been Digging Lately?
Jennifer L. Williams
Code Sections Affected
Public Resources Code §§ 5097.91, 5097.98 (amended).
AB 2641 (Coto); 2006 STAT. Ch. 863.
Good friend, for Jesus sake forebear
To dig the dust enclosed here.
Blest be the man that spares these stones
And curst be the man that moves my bones.
I. INTRODUCTION
Like polka dots on a summer dress, the green excavation tents littered the
hillside.2 Eventually a complex of condominiums, townhouses, and apartments
would fill this dotted landscape, but for the moment a team of archaeologists
made Playa Vista, California, their home.' With one brush stroke after another,
they carefully removed the skeletal remains of more than 275 members of the
Gabrielino-Tongva tribe. Some of the remains were more than four thousand
years old and many were accompanied by basketry remnants, ceremonial shells,
and tools.5 Archeologists removed, cleaned, and cataloged every item.6 Some
hailed this moment as an enormous step in the progression of science.7 Others
were not so enthusiastic.'
There are graveyards that are universally respected.9 For instance, few
question the sanctity of the soldiers in Arlington National Cemetery or the body
beneath William Shakespeare's gravestone.'° Respect for the remains of the
1. See WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE, THE RIVERSIDE SHAKESPEARE 1834 (1974) (quoting the epitaph on his
grave marker).
2. Peter Nabokov, City is Losing a Part of Its Soul in Playa Vista, L.A. TIMES, June 7, 2004, at B9.
3. Id.
4. Id. See generally Gabrielino-Tongva Tribe, http://www.tongvatribe.org/ (last visited Oct. 16, 2006)
(on file with the McGeorge Law Review) (providing further information regarding the tribe).
5. See Nick Madigan, Developer Unearths Burial Ground and Stirs Up Anger Among Indians, N.Y.
TIMES, June 2, 2004, at A13 (noting one of the more unique items found was a whistle made from deer tibia).
6. Id.
7. See Nabokov, supra note 2, at B9 (noting that in past years, landowners bulldozed graves).
8. Madigan, supra note 5, at A13; Nabokov, supra note 2, at B9.
9. See Nabokov, supra note 2, at B9 (questioning whether anyone would remove the remains in an
African American slave graveyard).
10. See id. (offering a pioneer cemetery in Ventura as an example of a graveyard that get[s]
automatic respect).

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