by Levi Rickert, editor-in-chief in Native Challenges. Discussion »
LOS ANGELES - Dozens of protesters from the Gabrieleño Band of Mission Indians Tribe and other sympathizers, who had come to protest the opening gala of the LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes Museum, were moved by Los Angeles Police away from the site.
Protest Blocked by LA Police
To avoid being arrested, the protesters ended up moving to a sidewalk near Broadway and Highway 101.
“We were treated just like old times - just like refugees in our own land,”
said Andy Salas, chairman of the Gabrieleño Band of Mission Indians.
The protest was held because of the mishandling of the unearthing of 118 sets of remains of ancestors of the Tribe in a garden area, on the site of the LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes Museum. The remains were initially discovered last October when the garden section of the property was excavated for construction.
In January tribal officials determined the remains were ancestral Indian remains of Gabrieleño--Togva Indians and other tribes through burial records. The remains are now being stored in buckets and boxes at the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History.
Protesters on Overpass with LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes Project in the Distance
Gabrieleño Band of Mission Indians tribal officials want a fast resolution as to how the remains will be reinterred with dignity and respect.
“We were shooed away from the museum,”
said Christina Swindall, secretary of the Gabrieleño Band of Mission Indians.
“Once by the freeway, we were able to be visible to cars going by.”
“The majority of cars going by, when they saw what our protest was about, honked in approval and gave us the “V” for victory sign,” commented Gary Stickel, an archaeologist for 45 years who participated in his first protest ever.
The LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes project is a Mexican-American culture museum in downtown Los Angeles. The total cost of the project is $24 million.
The opening party for the museum was hosted by “Desperate Housewives” Eva Longoria. Attendees paid from $1,000 to $100,000 to attend the event.
The museum will open to the public on April 16. The tribe is planning on another protest.
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