Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Indian Tribe Sues Over Exclusion From Committee Dealing With Ancestors' Remains

A lawsuit was filed yesterday in a Texas federal district court by a non-federally recognized Indian tribe against Texas officials involved in redevelopment of the Alamo complex complaining about the tribe's exclusion from a committee dealing with human remains found at the site. Plaintiffs say their ancestors are among those buried there, and some of the tribes allowed on the committee are responsible for the deaths of those buried in the cemetery.

The complaint (full text) in Tap Pilam Coahuiltecan Nation v. Alamo Trust, Inc., (WD TX, filed 9/10/2019), contends that requirements of the San Antonio's zoning laws that refer to the National Historic Preservation Act are not being followed in dealing with a cemetery on the redevelopment site. Instead authorities are applying the Native American Grave Protection Act which excludes non-recognized tribes. The complaint alleges in part:
Defendants are ignoring the City of San Antonio’s Unified Development Code and arbitrarily applying NAGPRA for the purpose of excluding the Plaintiffs and other lineal descendants from participation. The reason for this is obvious, the Defendants are planning to conduct their archaeological activities in a manner that violates local, state and federal laws in an attempt to reduce cost and time.
Plaintiffs also complain that they were denied use of the Alamo Chapel for their annual Sunrise Memorial Ceremony. Courthouse News Service reports on the lawsuit.