Plaintiffs' April 1, 1999 Status Report to the Court
Alan L. Schneider, OSB No. 68147
Paula A. Barran, OSB No. 80397
Attorneys for Plaintiffs
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF OREGON ROBSON BONNICHSEN, et.al., | | Civil No. 96-1481 JE Plaintiffs, | | PLAINTIFFS' APRIL 1, 1999 v. | STATUS REPORT | UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, et.al., | | Defendants. |
This status report is filed by plaintiffs to report on events relating to this case during the preceding quarter.
A. Study of the Skeleton
(1) As the Court is aware from documents previously filed by defendants, the Department of the Interior ("DOI") has begun its study of the skeleton. Noninvasive studies by scientists hired by DOI were conducted between February 25, 1999 and March 1, 1999. Plaintiffs were allowed to have one observer present during the study session, but her observations were limited because of the configuration of the examination room, the location of the observers' area and other circumstances. As a result, she did not observe many details of the procedures conducted by defendants' study team.
Defendants have announced that the results of their studies of the skeleton will be kept secret until they have reached a decision on whether the skeleton is or is not Native American within the meaning of NAGPRA. Defendants' study team members are prohibited from sharing their data with other scientists until defendants have concluded their deliberations, which will preclude plaintiffs and other members of the scientific community from providing any meaningful input on this important aspect of the case.
(2) Defendants have given plaintiffs no indication whether plaintiffs will be allowed to study the skeleton, or when a decision will be made on plaintiffs' study requests. It has now been 950 days since the skeleton was discovered, and 629 days since the Court remanded this case back to the government for an expeditious resolution of the issues.
B. Study of the Discovery Site
Defendants continue to refuse requests to study the discovery site of the skeleton. During the quarter just ended, Dr. Gary Huckleberry and Dr. Thomas Stafford sent two more requests to the Army Corps of Engineers for permission to conduct phased test excavations on the terrace overlooking the spot where the skeleton was found. Their requests have not been granted. It has now been 568 days since their application for a study permit was first filed with the Army Corps.
C. Disclosure of Information
As of the date of this Status Report, plaintiffs have filed five Freedom of Information Act requests with defendants. The earliest of these FOIA requests dates to August 13, 1997. So far, none of the requested documents have been provided other than the few items noted in Section E of plaintiffs' October 1, 1998 status report.
To date, defendants still have not produced all of the curation and access documents specified in the Court's order of May 29, 1998. Among other things, copies have not been provided of access passes relating to the April 27, 1998 incident when additional bones were taken from the collection. For a list of the documents requested but not produced, see letter attached as Exhibit A.
Defendants have provided plaintiffs with copies of most of the preliminary condition assessment forms (excluding photographs) prepared by defendants' conservators during the October 28/29, 1998 inventory of the skeleton. They have also given plaintiffs a copy of the Examination Room Log Sheets for the study session that was conducted between February 25 and March 1, 1999. No other documents relating to the condition, preservation, rehousing or inventory of the skeleton have been shared with plaintiffs since defendants' last status report.
DATED this 1st day of April, 1999.
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