Whidbey Examiner


Letter: Printing human remains photo was wrong

April 12, 2013 · Updated 3:20 PM


I just viewed the actual front page of the March 21 Whidbey Examiner and was appalled that the newspaper felt it appropriate to show an image of human remains found on the beach at Coupeville.

It doesn’t matter if those remains are a few months old, a year old, or 400 years old. Would you want the bones of your ancestors portrayed in such a disrespectful manner?

I think not.

One would think that a Whidbey Island newspaper would have learned a bit more cultural sensitivity over the years, particularly given the number of Native American graves exposed over the past century on the island, and especially since 2011 when construction crews plowed through a known Indian burial site in downtown Oak Harbor.

A century ago, a group from the Swinomish Reservation visited the office of Coupeville’s Island County Times and asked the editor to request the general public’s help in protecting their relatives burial sites.

The result is document in the newspaper article “Indian graves not to be molested,” Island County Times, 12-19-1913.

Despite that plea, some of Whidbey’s non-Native population thought nothing of ransacking those graves, taking grave goods, or displaying skulls in places from atop their farm fences to glass cases in the Oak Harbor Library in the 1960s.

The recent display of human remains in The Examiner illustrates that your staff has not learned from the 2011 Oak Harbor incident.

These discoveries are not sensationalistic props to sell newspapers.

They are the remains of family members of people who live today.

Please have your reporters do some reading and familiarize yourselves with how different cultures venerate their deceased relatives.

It is sorely needed.



Theresa Trebon





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