Columbus in Columbia

Letter From South Carolina

The American Indians are on the warpath and with good reason, it would seem. For at least two hundred years their grave sites have been desecrated simply to satisfy the curiosity of the White Man. On the defensive, archaeologists are arguing that in all cultures studied graves are one of the best sources of information. The Indians say "so what?" and are demanding the remains of their ancestors and their grave goods be put back. The Indians are winning.

Good. Professional archaeologists, especially in recent years, have been playing dog in the manger with somebody else's manger, and as an amateur student of human endeavor, I've come to resent it. Local Indian sites from which I intended to take nothing were off limits. When I asked to see results from official digs (paperwork or artifacts) everything had been misplaced and everybody involved was on "vacation." The few times I found Indian bones washing out from banks, I've buried them deeper. Power to the Red People.

But not too much power. I'm sympathetic, but to a degree. I recognize the plight of minorities, (especially Celtic, male. Episcopalians), and I want all persons to live in harmony, but I'm totally baffled by the uproar surrounding this year's grand celebration of Columbus' discovery of America. Five-hundred years ago the Nina, Pinta, and the Santa Maria made a landfall that certainly changed my life for the better....

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