VOL. CIIIL...NO.15 1 May,1996

Murder Rocks Cliff!


"He was almost certainly murdered," said Associate Professor of Biology and part-time Cliffton Coroner Dr. Utaka Nomo (Cliff '77) after examining the exposed skull of the still-buried skeleton discovered by demolition workers two weeks ago beneath the rubble of the recently razed Sayers Hall. As a result of as much of an analysis as Dr. Nomo could pursue without moving the politically sensitive body, he determined that the victim could not be the 18th-Century Nez Percé Chief Shouting Bull because, among other reasons, the corpse had a modern dental prosthesis.
Despite this evidence, Native American Student Union members continued their occupation of the site, asserting that the discovery does not negate the fact that the land beneath Sayers is an ancient Nez Percé burial ground.
Dr. Nomo presented his findings this morning to a closed-door session of interested parties including the FBI, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Cliffton Police Detective Elizabeth Goswell, Cliff College chief of security Dick Francis, Nez Percé Chief Dennis Dubois, and NASU President Running Dog Levenstein. Dr. Nomo told the group that certain unusual details in the corpse's dental work bear the distinctive signature of the idiosyncratic dentist, Dr. Maurice van Dam, who practiced here in Cliffton in the 1960s. Specifically, the mysterious skull's right bicuspid has, engraved on its posterior surface, the oral surgeon's initials.
Dr. Nomo had hoped to identify the corpse by examining Dr. van Dam's records, but van Dam destroyed his records before fleeing the area under a cloud of suspicion in 1971. He was accused of using laughing gas to relax the inhibitions of patients -- including various coeds and Cliff College Board Chairwoman Carlotta Cliff -- so that they would consent to his sexual advances.
Dr. Nomo concluded that because the body was no more than 35 years old and was found buried in the basement, it almost certainly spelled murder!

Photo by Jonas Olson


The news that the body was not that of an ancestral tribal leader came as a blow to the aspirations of Chief Dubois and NASU, who have been working together to try to reclaim the land beneath Sayers for the Nez Percé nation before the college could erect a new structure on the site.
NASU President, Running Dog Levenstein, expressed confidence that, despite this setback, the Native American cause would not be hampered. "
This corpse could still be a brother," Levenstein said. "The Nez Percé have been burying their dead here for four hundred years. Just because the white man put a building up doesn't mean some modern warrior didn't find a way to bury his dead according to tribal tradition."
Chief Dubois echoed Levenstein's sentiments, if not his thoughts. "We are profoundly disappointed that these were not the long-lost bones of Chief Shouting Bull," Dubois said, "but we will continue to protect the sacred burial ground from any desecration by paleskin law enforcement agencies. The body may not be ours, but the land most definitely is."
Security Chief Francis was positively gloating over Dr. Nomo's findings, saying "I told you so, I told you so"! Indeed, as reported previously, Francis has consistently asserted that the corpse would turn out to be contemporary. "Ten to one I've got a murder on my hands," he said late last week, "and one to ten I'll solve it if these damned Indians don't powwow all over my crime scene."
Jockeying for jurisdiction has already precipitated a round- the-clock vigil, shoving incidents, restraining orders, shouting matches, and at least one spitting competition between Federal, local, College, student and Tribal officials. When the national media moves in (on our scoop), as they most assuredly will, all concerned expect the fur to really fly.

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