Skip to comments.Kennewick Man is awarded to scientists
Posted on 08/31/2002 12:30:40 AM PDT by sarcasm
After almost 10,000 years buried in the muck of the Columbia River, followed by six years in lab and museum vaults, the skeletal remains of Kennewick Man should be given to scientists looking for clues about how people first migrated to North America, a federal judge in Portland ruled yesterday.
The ruling by U.S. Magistrate John Jelderks is a victory for eight anthropologists who fought the federal government's attempts to turn the remains over to a coalition of five Northwest tribes who want to rebury the "Ancient One."
"We hung in there because we think these ancient remains are very significant and very important to study," said Robson Bonnichsen, a professor of anthropology at Texas A&M University.
"This is an extremely rare individual," he said. "In all of the United States, there's only about eight skeletons of this age known."
In a 73-page decision, Jelderks roundly criticized the decision by former Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt to give the remains to Indian tribes for reburial.
The federal government, Jelderks wrote, "failed to consider all the relevant factors, had acted before it had all of the evidence, had failed to fully consider legal questions, had assumed facts that proved to be erroneous, had failed to articulate a satisfactory explanation for its action, had followed a 'flawed' procedure and had prematurely decided the issue."
Alan Schneider, a lawyer representing the scientists, said the ruling "is going to encourage federal agencies to be more deliberate and fair when they make decisions concerning the study of ancient skeletal remains."
The scientists' lawsuit was against the federal agencies and their interpretation of the Native American Grave Protection and Repatriation Act of 1990, not against the tribes or their cultural beliefs, they said.
In a statement issued last night, the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation anticipated an appeal: "We are confident that upon appeal, the court will recognize that (the Repatriation Act) protects the remains of Native American people from being treated solely as objects of scientific curiosity.
"... This treatment of Native American remains as scientific specimens deprives Native people of the basic right to properly bury or care for these ancestors. By enacting (the Repatriation Act), Congress intended that Native American ancestral human remains be treated the same as non-Indian remains, with respect."
Two college students on their way to a hydroplane race in Kennewick stumbled across the remains in July 1996. They notified local police, who investigated and then notified the Army Corps of Engineers, which controls the land around the discovery site.
Within six weeks, the corps decided to give the remains to local tribes under the Repatriation Act, which states that tribes have ownership of ancient artifacts and remains that are culturally or biologically linked to a tribe through historical, geographical, biological or other evidence.
Bonnichsen and the other scientists sued to halt transfer of the bones. They said there was no way to know if Kennewick Man was culturally or biologically related to modern Northwest tribes without further study.
"If you think about it, something that's 9,400 years old, that could be the ancestor of half of North America, maybe even people in South America and Canada," Bonnichsen said.
Some scientists think Kennewick Man resembles the people of northern Japan, prompting speculation that the remains may be evidence of migration from different parts of Asia to North America.
In 2000, the U.S. Department of Interior reaffirmed the corps' decision and said the bones should go to the tribes because the tribes had an "oral tradition" of history in the area around the discovery site.
But "trying to use oral history to say what happened 8,000 years ago is a stretch," Bonnichsen said.
The government agencies could appeal yesterday's ruling; their lawyers could not be reached for comment late yesterday.
Since September 1998, the remains have been stored under heavy security in the basement of the Burke Museum at the University of Washington. At least one door leading to the storage room requires two keys to open.
"I've never had to be searched so many times to do my work,'' said Gary Huckleberry, a geologist at Washington State University who has studied the remains.
"It's a unique specimen. It's a rare treasure that contributes to our understanding of the past, and I think it belongs to us all."
I remember an argument I had over at the ACLU forum a year and a half ago when I went there or a dare from an ACLU member who was trashing a Republican forum...where I said that giving the bones to the Indians amounted to an establishment of religion because it accepted the Indian religious belief that humans came out of the Earth several thousand years ago and that they did not originated from migration from Asia as most scientists believe.
Another ruling where servitude to public benefit trumps all else.
"In all of the United States, there's only about eight skeletons of this age known."
...and they all are the Kennewick Man variety. There are no 'Native American' remains (as we know then today) that are older than 6,000 years old!
Spirit Cave Man
That business about the Indian remains law, if anyone is interested, could be solved sensibly.
If remains date from within last 750 years, they are presumed Amerindian of continuing cultures and will be returned to the tribes BARRING some overwhelming public need.
If remains date from within last 1500 years, they are presumed to be of Amerindian race and will be returned to some tribes or other, again BARRING some overwhelming public need.
But, and this is key, if remains date to over 1500 years ago, they will be presumed to be of unknown race and origin, not connected with any current people, and subject to all scientific investigation as to what and who they might be.
BTW Even within the 1500 years, a suit could be brought contending the remains are European or Asian or African and (were it successful) the bones could escape the Native lockup.
Kennewick Man was almost Nordic in appearance, very Europoid.
Arguments from genes than he was "AINU" serve little purpose beyond asserting that he had come by way of Asia, eastward, not from Europe, westward.
All the Ainu label does, is kick the argument back into a discussion of who the Ainu were and where did THEY come from.
James C. Chatters (who did most of the work on Kennewick Man), in his book Ancient Encounters, says that he thinks that KM fell into the water and was washed there anyway. Probably not much to learn from the site anyway.
When water levels from dams began to eat away at the shoreline, his burial site which must have been immed on the Columbia's then north bank, would have eroded out...but probably he was within a matter of hundreds of feet, or yards, from where he was buried...
One reason so few Amerindian remains from very long ago are found, may be that they did not often go to the trouble to bury their dead.
But: if there was nothing there, why did govt go to such great expense and folly to pour all this concrete? They must have feared there was much there indeed, maybe even a whole cemetery or burial ground of KM-type caucasoids.
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We have no proof either. We just took what we wanted by socialist decree.
Maybe you should make an exception in your proposed guidelines for Minnesota: if the remains date between 600 and 1000 years old, they will be presumed to be of Scandinavian origin...
"Now the whole earth had one language and few words. And as men migrated from the east, they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there. And they said to one another, 'Come, let us make bricks, and burn them thoroughly.' And they had brick for stone, and bitumen for mortar. Then they said, 'Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.' And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the sons of men had built. And the LORD said, 'Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language; and this is only the beginning of what they will do; and nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. Come, let us go down, and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another's speech.' So the LORD scattered them abroad from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city.' Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the LORD confused the language of all the earth; and from there the LORD scattered them abroad over the face of all the earth." (Genesis 11:1-9)
Merriam-Webster's definition of "all" includes this: "every member or individual component of ...".
Nothing here indicates that Kennewick Man was an ancestor. They should have to prove it.
Nah, Kirk just kicked his tea-sipping cheese-eating French butt into the middle of the last ice age.
There you go being logical again!
Here are pictures of a modern day Ainu, Shigeru Kayano, the first Ainu to become a member of the Japanese national legislature.
Yes, so it does. I can't wait to learn MORE abot Kennewick Man ! This should finnally put to rest, some of the PC garbage about the nasty, evil white man. LOL
Absolutely. The argument above that giving the remains back to the Indians is an 'establishment of religion' makes a lot of sense to me. Worse, giving the remains back undermines the very concept of science. If scientists can be embargoed from engaging in science on the basis of political correctness, we're in a lot more trouble than we think!
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