Kennewick Man

Kennewick Man

Kennewick Man is the name for the skeletal remains of a prehistoric man found on a bank of the Columbia River near Kennewick, Washington, USA on July 28, 1996. The discovery of Kennewick Man was accidental: a pair of spectators (Will Thomas and David Deacy) found his skull while attending the annual hydroplane races. [cite web|url=|title=Skull found on shore of Columbia|publisher=Tri-City Herald|author=Stang, John|date=2005-06-20|accessdate=2007-05-27]

The remains became embroiled in debates about the relationship between Native American religious rights, archaeology and other interested stakeholders. [ [ New Nation News - Kennewick Man - Asatru press releasese ] ] [] Based on the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA), five Native American groups (the Nez Perce, Umatilla, Yakama, Wannapum, and Colville) claimed the remains as theirs, to be buried by traditional means. Only Umatillas continued further court proceeding. In February 2004, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that a cultural link between the tribes and the skeleton was not met, allowing scientific study of the remains to continue. [$file/0235994.pdf "Bonnichsen, et al. v. United States, et al.,"] no. 02-35994 (9th Cir. Feb. 4, 2004)]

In July 2005, a team of scientists from around the United States convened in Seattle for ten days to study the remains, making many detailed measurements, and determined the cause of death.

cientific significance

The remains were first examined "in situ" by anthropologist James Chatters. After ten separate visits, Chatters was able to collect three hundred and fifty pieces of bone as well as the skull, which completed almost a full skeleton.cite journal|author=Custred, Glynn|title=The Forbidden Discovery of Kennewick Man|journal=Academic Questions|volume=13|issue=3|year=2000|pages=12–30|doi=10.1007/s12129-000-1034-8] The cranium was fully intact with all the teeth that had been present at the time of death. [ [ Kennewick Man ] ] All of the major bones were found, except the sternum and a few bones of the hands and feet. The subject was determined to have been "a male of late middle age (40-55 years), and tall (170 to 176 cm), slender build". [Chatters, James C. (2004). Kennewick Man. Retrieved from] Many of the bones were, however, in several pieces.cite journal|author=Chatters, James C.|year=2000|title=The Recovery and First Analysis of an Early Holocene Human|journal=American Antiquity|volume=65|issue=2|pages=291–316|doi=10.2307/2694060] At the University of California at Riverside, a small piece of bone was subjected to radiocarbon dating. Unexpected test results showed that the remains were approximately 9,300 years old, rather than from the nineteenth century, as had originally been assumed. After collecting all the bone pieces, Chatters concluded the subject was a Caucasoid male about convert|68|in|cm|0 tall who died in his mid fifties.

Chatters found the bone had partially grown around a convert|79|mm|in|1|abbr=on stone projectile lodged in the illium, part of the pelvic bone. On x-ray, nothing appeared. Chatters put the bone through a CPT scan, and it was discovered that the projectile was made from a siliceous gray stone that was found to have igneous origins. Geologically, this refers to a stone that formed in a silica-rich environment during a volcanic period. The projectile was leaf-shaped, long, broad and had serrated edges, all fitting the definition of a Cascade point. This type of point is a feature of the Cascade phase, occurring in the archaeological record from roughly 5000 to 8000 years ago.

To further investigate the mystery of the Kennewick man and help to find out if the skeleton belonged to the Umatilla Native American tribe, an extraction of DNA was analyzed but could not be completed because it contradicted Native American values protected under NAGPRA. Anthropologist Joseph Powell of the University of New Mexico was finally allowed to examine the remains and his conclusions were contradictory. Kennewick Man was in fact not European but rather resembled south Asians and the Ainu people of northeast Asia. The results of a graphic comparison, including size, of Kennewick Man to 18 modern populations conducted by Chatters et al. to determine the skeleton’s relation to modern ancestry showed that he was most closely related to the Ainu. However, when size was excluded as a factor, no association to any population was established.

The biological diversity among ancient skulls in the Americas has further complicated attempts to establish how closely Kennewick Man is related to any modern Native American tribes. Skulls older than 8,000 years old have been found to possess greater physical diversity than do those of modern Native Americans. This range implies that there was a genetic shift in populations about 8,000 years ago. The heterogeneity of these early people shows that genetic drift had already occurred, meaning that the racial type represented by Kennewick Man had been in existence for some considerable period of time.

The discovery of Kennewick Man, along with other ancient skeletons, has furthered scientific debate over the exact origin and history of early Native American people.The prevailing theory holds that a single wave of migration occurred, consisting of hunters and gatherers following large herds of game wandered across the Bering Strait land bridge around 12,000 years ago. Other theories contend that there were numerous waves of migration to the Americas. The apparent diversity of ancient skeletal remains, which may include traits not typically associated with modern Native Americans, has been used as evidence to support these rival theories. Recent (2008) research argues for a single migration. [ "Mitochondrial Population Genomics Supports a Single Pre-Clovis Origin with a Coastal Route for the Peopling of the Americas" Fagundes, Nelson J.R.; Kanitz, Ricardo; Eckert, Roberta; Valls, Ana C.S.; Bogo, Mauricio R.; Salzano, Francisco M.; Smith, David Glenn; Silva, Wilson A.; Zago, Marco A.; Ribeiro-dos-Santos, Andrea K.; Santos, Sidney E.B.; Petzl-Erler, Maria Luiza; Bonatto, Sandro L. American journal of human genetics(volume 82 issue 3 pp.583 - 592) ]

Ownership controversy

According to NAGPRA, if human remains are found on federal lands and their cultural affiliation to a Native American tribe can be established, the affiliated tribe can claim them. The Umatilla tribe of Native Americans requested custody of the remains, wanting to bury them according to tribal tradition. However, their claim was contested by researchers hoping to study the remains; if Kennewick Man has no direct connection to modern-day native tribes, then NAGPRA should not apply.

The Umatilla have argued that their creation myths say that their people have been present on their historical territory since the dawn of time, so a government holding that Kennewick Man is not Native American is tantamount to the government's rejection of their beliefs.

Robson Bonnichsen and seven other anthropologists sued the United States for the right to conduct tests on the skeleton. On February 4, 2004, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit panel rejected the appeal brought by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Umatilla, Colville, Yakama, Nez Perce and other tribes on the grounds that they were unable to show any evidence of kinship.

On April 7, 2005, during the 109th Congress, United States Senator John McCain introduced an amendment, to NAGPRA which, in section 108, would have changed the definition of "Native American" from being that which "is indigenous to the United States" to "is or was indigenous to the United States." [cite web|url=|title=S. 536, 109th Cong., Native American Omnibus Act of 2005 (Reported in Senate)|publisher=Library of Congress|year=2005|accessdate = 2008-02-26] However, the 109th Congress concluded without the bill being enacted. By the bill's definition, Kennewick Man would have been classified as Native American, regardless of whether any link to a contemporary tribe could be found. Proponents of this argue that is in accord with current scientific understanding, which is that it is not in all cases possible for prehistoric remains to be traced to current tribal entities, partly because of social upheaval, forced resettlement and extinction of entire ethnicities caused by disease and warfare. Doing so, however, would still not remove the controversy surrounding Kennewick Man as then it would have to be decided which Native American group should take possession of the remains if he could not be definitively linked with a current group. To be of practical use in a historical and prehistorical context, some argue further that the term "Native American" should be applied so that it spans the entire range from the Clovis culture (which cannot be positively assigned to any contemporary tribal group) to the Métis, a group of mixed ancestry who only came into being as a consequence of European contact, yet constitute a distinct cultural entity.

The remains are now at the Burke Museum at the University of Washington, where they were deposited in October 1998, but they are legally the property of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, since they were found on land belonging to the Corps.

ee also

* Ainu people
* Pre-Siberian American Aborigines
* Solutrean hypothesis
* Sinodonty and Sundadonty
* Models of migration to the New World
* Pre-Columbian trans-oceanic contact



* [ "Mystery of the First Americans" transcript] of NOVA program. Airdate February 15, 2000.
* [ "Skeleton from Kennewick, Washington."] American Antiquity, Vol. 65, No. 2. (Apr., 2000), pp. 291-316. May 11, 2007.
* [ "Last Word on Kennewick Man?"] Archaeology 55.6 (2002): 17. Academic Search Elite. 8 May 2007.
* [ "Old Skull Gets White Looks, Stirring Dispute"] New York Times, April 2, 1998

Further reading

* Jones, Peter N. "Respect for the Ancestors: American Indian Cultural Affiliation in the American West" Boulder: Bauu Press, 2005. ISBN 0-9721349-2-1
* Chatters, James C. "Ancient Encounters: Kennewick Man & the First Americans" New York: Simon & Schuster, 2002. ISBN 0-684-85936-X
* Dawkins, Richard. "" Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2000. ISBN 0-618-05673-4
* Thomas, David Hurst. "Skull Wars: Kennewick Man, Archaeology, and the Battle for Native American Identity" New York: Basic Books, ca. 2000. ISBN 0-465-09224-1
* Adler, Jerry. "A 9,000-Year-Old Secret." New York: Newsweek. July 25, 2005. Vol. 146, Issue 4; pg. 52. [ (link)]
* Benedict, Jeff. "No bone unturned: Inside the world of a top forensic scientist and his work on America's most notorious crimes and disasters" New York: HarperCollinsPublishers, 2003. ISBN 0-06-095888-X
* Readings in American Indian Law: Recalling the Rhythm of Survival, Philadelphia: Temple University Press (Jo Carrillo ed. 1998).

External links

* [ Kennewick Man on Trial] Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture
* [ Kennewick Man's bone dating]
* [ Forensic observations] by James C. Chatters
* [ Kennewick Man Case] from Friends of America's Past - events, press releases, court documents
* [ Kennewick Virtual Interpretive Center] from Tri-City Herald
* [ National Park Service AEP: Kennewick Man] (all text and images from this site are in the public domain)
* [ The Umatilla Tribe's official position]
* [ Kennewick Man and the New World Entrada] , by Kris Hirst at
* [ Hear a radio interview with David Hurst Thomas, curator of the Ancient History Museum in New York, about Kennewick Man]

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