County Unfairly Conditions Access to Human Remains and Artifacts on Waiver of Claims or Damages — El Pueblo Campo Santo

Posted: July 28th, 2011

The County of Los Angeles has unfairly offered selected individuals access for just fifteen minutes to the 118 sets of human remains and artifacts at the County Museum of Natural History — but only on the condition that the individuals waive any claims or damages. The form the County insists visitors sign provides in part as follows: “I hereby release the County of Los Angeles, the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History, the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History Foundation, and their respective officers, employees, agents and assignees from any claims or damages . . . related to the Museum’s temporary caretaking of the boxes and other storage containers or their contents.”

County Supervisor Gloria Molina has publicly conceded about the excavations: “There’s probably gonna be plenty of blame to go around on all of it. For us, we probably didn’t have as thorough an EIR as we probably should have had.” According to Supervisor Molina, “Had they [Sapphos Environmental, Inc., a consultant for the County] done better work, we wouldn’t be in this situation.”

Descendants of the ancestors that the County improperly excavated from Campo Santo, including Native Americans and Pobladores, have a right to access the remains — under the free exercise of religion, and other authorities.

No wonder the County is eager to obtain waivers of claims and damages . . .

This illustrates why the National Park Service and an objective mediator need to step in and preside over consultations, access and repatriation.

Read the County’s Participant Release for the July 29 visit here.