The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current, November 10, 1998, Page 6, Image 6

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    Professor takes e
HITCHCOCK from page 1
But the coordinator of African
Studies won’t have to worry about stut
tering through a speech. He has enough
tales to fill volumes.
“He’s known to be an effective
speaker,” said Stephen Hilliard, the
series’ program committee chairman.
Hilliard said Hitchcock was the best
choice to speak about human rights in
Africa, a topic the committee wanted to
bring into the series.
Hitchcock’s experiences extend
beyond his office and go into the homes
of indigenous populations in eastern,
central and southern Africa.
He also has focused his efforts on
the plight of die American Indians.
Lately, Hitchcock manages to pur
sue his passion for human rights over
seas at least once a year, most often in
southern Africa.
An early impact
Growing up in Saudi Arabia,
Hitchcock saw hands chopped off for
crimes such as stealing.
It was a strict regime. Poverty was
prevalent, and the effects of corporate
expansion fell mainly on the shoulders
of indigenous populations.
He was born in the town of
Abquaia. He lived there for 15 years
until he moved back to
California.While living in Saudi
Arabia, he saw what negative effects
modernization could have on less
developed countries’ populations.
“You could see such amazing
impacts on their lifestyles,” he said.
At first, Hitchcock was blind to
what he could do about human rights
violations he sees clearly now.
In his first years working in
Botswana, in southern Africa,
Hitchcock was doing research in a rural
area where a group of indigenous peo
pfe called San lived.
The San approached him needing a
bridge at Nata River. A young San girl
had drowned crossing it
Hitchcock then realized what he
should be doing and helped the San get
a bridge. But it wasn’t easy.
The government said the Sap had
no land rights. Hitchcock helped the
indigenous people work with the gov
eminent and build a bridge.
Since that awakening to the urgency
of native populations’ needs, Hitchcock
has been overseeingidevelopment pro
jects and helping indigenous popula
tions adjust to modernization.
Without help, those people could
easily have remained silent until they
faded away, Hitchcock said.
It’s hard to deal withsuch issues, he
said, but tilings are improving.
Now, groups such as the San run
their own developmental programs and
do their own fund raising.
Pure opposition
In the two decades he has lived and
worked in Africa, Hitchcock has expe
rienced his share of adversity.
In 1985, a Somalian friend and his
family were killed in Botswana in a
blast in the friend’s home. In 1986,
Hitchcock’s hut was blown up in a raid
in Swaziland. He wasn’t home.
South Africans who blew up the hut
were raiding and targeting^anti
apartheid areas. Hitchcock wasn’t per
sonally targeted; the Africans blew up
the wrong house.
In the early 1990s, Hitchcock spoke
to service organizations in Nebraska
about the harsh climate indigenous
populations endured during the Gulf
He didn’t receive a positive
response. Most people were in favor of
the war and didn’t want to hear about its
negative impact, he sdid.
A bloody situation’
Remembering the good ol’ days, a
smile emerges on Hitchcock’s face
when he talks about his college years,
when he slipped out of his conservative
background into extensive protesting of
the Vietnam War.
Hitchcock was one of 2,000 stu
dents who, on Feb. 19,1970, burned
down the Bank of America near the
University of California at Santa
Barbara, where he attended school
The bank was chosen as a symbol
because it was one of the “biggest capi
talistic things around,” Hitchcock said.
The bank supported the war, he said.
“It was a historic moment in college
history” Hitchcock said as he pointed
to a photograph showing the flames
engulfing the building.
During protests, Hitchcock was
involved with three major riots in which
five people were lolled.
“It was a realty Woody situation for
a number of months,” Hitchcock said.
The police shut down die entire city
of Santa Barbara. Nearly everybody
involved was arrested, including
Hitchcock. “It was a greater case of
suppression of rights than I’ve ever
seen,” he said. “A lot of people got
The firing of a University of
California at Santa Barbara anthropolo
gy professor sparked the protests. The
professor was fired because ofhis polit
ical beliefs, Hitchcock said.
The professor said the U.S. govern
ment was providing harmful chemicals
to Peru and Brazil. The chemicals were
used to clear areas in the Amazon for oil
Hitchcock was one of 7,776 stu
dents who signed a petition protesting
the university’s decision to fire the pro
In the line of fire
Hitchcock has faced controversy of
his own recently because of issues sur
rounding the repatriation of about
1,700 American Indian bones at UNL.
“It’s an interesting position to be
in,” Hitchcock said.
The anthropology department’s
handling of remains has been ques
tioned because some remains were
found last fall in Bessey Hall, causing
the department to be suspected of
unethical research.
hi addition to answering questions
from American Indian groups,
Hitchcock said he answers nearly a
dozen calls and e-mail messages a day.
Hitchcock is striving to work espe
cially closely with American Indian
groups, hoping to right what was done
wrong, he said.
Regina Thunder Hawk, a senior
anthropology major, said Hitchcock
has kept a strong viewpoint -
“I think he took the honorable
stance with the issues that came up,”
Thunder Hawk, an American Indian,
said. He did so, even though much of
the university has resisted some of his
beliefs, she said.
Hitchcock has met resistance in his *
effort to institute^ university policy that
would require researchers to get per
mission to work on human remains.
He said university officials argue
that such apolicy infringes on academ
ic freedom.
“Why is it that it’s OK to do work on
dead people and not OK to do work on
live people, or you have to get permis
sion to do work on live people?”
Hitchcock said. ' j
Positive trend
Hitchcock will continue in his quest
for human rights.
He will continue doing develop
ment work in Africa, but he also wants
to focus on North and South America.
Hitchcock said he is happy with the
changes in attitudes in human rights
that have occurred internationally since
the protests in California.“I’m heart
ened by listening to students at this uni
versity,” he said.
Students are more interested in
doing the right thing, granting indige
nous populations the rights they
deserve, he said.
“That wouldn’t have been the case
20 or 30 years ago.”
City Council delays vote
on P Street traffic flow i
. ■ • ■ ■ \
P STREET from page 1
said Tom Bassett, a one-way supporter.
“They need to know the history of deci
sions made regarding P Street”
Two-way traffic was suggested as
early as 1989 as part ofa long-term plan
for revitalizing the downtown area,
council documents stated.
Some one-way proponents charged
that the construction of the new
Embassy Suites Hotel on P Street
between 10th and 11th streets influ
enced the change to two-way traffic.
But Dallas McGee, assistant direc
tor of Lincoln Urban Development,
said the city had already decided on
two-way, and all of die hotel developers
bidding on the project planned their
buildings accordingly.
Embassy Suites developer John Q.
Hammons said in a Idler to the council
that a two-way P Street was a key factor
in his decision to build.
At Monday’s public hearing, about
60 citizens sat in council chambers to
show support for their side or address
die council. Some who wanted to speak
stood in lines and had to race to the
microphone, sometimes running into
each other, as speaking time was at a
Two government agencies located
in the Haymarket - the U.S. Postal
Service and the Immigration and
Naturalization Service-argued that the
current two-way configuration is caus
ing many headaches for their employ
/ Both agencies use P Street regular
ly and have complained of traffic prob
“They have shut off the postal ser
vice,” said Leon Tatum, the president of
the American Postal Workers Union.
‘To accommodate a few big business
es, the city has said ‘to hell with the
In addition, the INS office has
expanded, bringing more employees
and more traffic to the Haymarket dis
On the other side of die issue, sup
porters, who envision a pedestrian
friendly marketplace area, argued that
through traffic should go around P
Tim Francis, a 12-year downtown
area resident said drivers should use M
or K streets as a throughway.
“I driye all over tie city every day,
and I can easily find the quickest way to
get there,” Francis said. “I didn’t think
that made me exceptionally bright, but
apparently that disqualifies me for gov
ernment service.”
Two-way supporters stressed that
Lincoln needs to give the new P Street a
And Lincoln Mayor Mike Johanns
agreed that drivers should be given time
to adjust
“I understand that at this point noth
ing has been good about it,” Johanns
said. “But it needs time.”
Councilman Jerry Shoecraft, who
proposed the bill to change P Street
back to one-way traffic, was not swayed
by the hours of testimony. *
‘1 want the marketplace and down
town development (on P Street), but
that will never happen with 1-180
dumping thousands of cars in down
town a day,” Shoecraft said.
After all the testimony, the council
delayed a vote on die issue so it could
further question the city’s Public Works
and Utilities department
In other council news:
■ The council discussed the proce
dure for appointing an interim mayor in
place of Johanns, governor-elect. A
vote will be held Monday, and
Councilman Dale Young is expected to
be appointed.
■ The council said it supports the
state fire marshal’s enforcement of
occupancy limits in downtown bars.
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