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Thread: Many Native Americans view the archaeological excavation

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    Question Many Native Americans view the archaeological excavation

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    Many Native Americans view the archaeological excavation and museum display of ancestral skeletal remains and items buried with them as a spiritual desecration. A number of legal remedies that either prohibit or regulate such activities may be available to Native American communities, if they can establish standing (a position from which one may assert or enforce legal rights and duties)in such cases. In disinterment cases, courts have traditionally affirmed the standing of three classes of plaintiffs: the deceased’s heirs, the owner of the property on which the grave is located, and parties, including organizations or distant relatives of the deceased, that have a clear interest in the preservation of a particular grave. If an archaeologically discovered grave is of recent historical origin and associated with an identifiable Native American community, Native Americans are likely to establish standing in a suit to prevent disinterment of the remains, but in cases where the grave is ancient and located in an area where the community of Native Americans associated with the grave has not recently lived, they are less likely to be successful in this regard (in this regard: adv.在这点上). Indeed, in most cases involving ancient graves, to recognize that Native Americans have standing would represent a significant expansion of common law. In cases where standing can be achieved, however, common law (common law: 习惯法) may provide a basis for some Native American claims against archaeologists and museums.
    Property law, for example, can be useful in establishing Native American claims to artifacts that are retrieved in the excavation of ancient graves and can be considered the communal property of Native American tribes or communities. In Charrier v. Bell, a United States appellate (appellate: adj.受理上诉的) court ruled that the common law doctrine of abandonment, which allows the finder of abandoned property to claim ownership, does not apply to objects buried with the deceased. The court ruled that the practice of burying items with the body of the deceased “is not intended as a means of relinquishing ownership to a stranger” and that to interpret it as such “could render a grave subject to despoliation either immediately after interment or…after removal of the descendants of the deceased from the neighborhood of the cemetery.” This ruling suggests that artifacts excavated from Native American ancestral graves should be returned to representatives of tribal groups who can establish standing in such cases.
    More generally, United Sates courts have upheld the distinction between individual and communal property, holding that an individual Native American does not have title to communal property owned and held for common use by his or her tribe. As a result, museums cannot assume that they have valid title to cultural property merely because they purchased in good faith an item that was originally sold in good faith (in good faith:诚意地,老实地) by an individual member of a Native American community.

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    The passage suggests that in making the ruling in Charrier v. Bell the court is most likely to have considered the answer to which one of the following questions?
    (A) Are the descendants of the deceased still alive?
    (B) What was the reason for burying the objects in question?
    (C) How long after interment had buried objects been claimed by stranger?
    (D) Did the descendants of the deceased remain in the neighborhood of the cemetery?
    (E) Could the property on which buried objects were found be legally considered to be abandoned property?

    14. Which one of the following best expresses the main idea of the passage?
    (A) Prior to an appellate court’s ruling in Charrier v. Bell, Native Americans had no legal grounds for demanding the return of artifacts excavated from ancient graves.
    (B) Property law offers the most promising remedies to Native Americans seeking to recover communally owned artifacts that were sold to museums without tribal authorization.
    (C) The older the grave, the more difficult it is for Native Americans to establish standing in cases concerning the disposition of archaeologically excavated ancestral remains.
    (D) In cases in which Native Americans can establish standing, common law can be useful in protecting ancestral remains and the artifacts buried with them.
    (E) Native Americans are unlikely to make significant progress in the recovery of cultural property until common law is significantly expanded to provide them with standing in cases involving the excavation of ancient graves.

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