Read the article here.
The Chumash community in Los Osos, California, located northwest of Los Angeles, is having a sewer collection system constructed. Far Western Anthropological Research Group was given $898,105 to complete the cultural resources phase of the project.
Ground was broken on the sewer project on October 8 of last year and the first two burials were found on March 11. Another was found on March 12 and another on March 13. Back in 2004 an intact burial was discovered and reburied only 10 ft from the current burials.
The Chumash community wants the excavation halted until the size of the cemetery can be determined and options can be presented.
As is usual for this sort of project an archaeologist and “most likely descendants” are always on site. However, according to Cavanaugh, a Chumash on the site, the “most likely descendants" are Far Western employees and the archaeologist is married to one of the principals. Sounds like a conflict of interest to me.
Cavanaugh claims “they were shoveling dirt with human remains on the street and then picking up skull fragments and grave items off the street”. Pat Nicolson, a project manager at Far Western declined to comment.
Far Western decided to do a rapid reburial of the remains after the discovery. According to the article, Far Western plans to dig below the level of the sewage piplines and rebury the remains. The Chumash community voiced strong opposition at this plan.
Members of the Chumash community said they don’t want decisions made about their ancestors by several descendants with a financial stake in the decision.
What do you think is the proper course of action? Does Far Western have a conflict of interest on this project? Should they have agreed to do it? Should they have found other “likely descendants” other than ones that work for the company? Let me know what you think in the comments.
Thanks for reading and I’ll see you in the field!