Kennewick Man to Be Returned to Indian Tribes For Re-Burial
Since 1996, the remains of Kennewick Man, or the Ancient One as he is called by Native American tribes, has been a political and scientific issue. On one hand is the Federal law concerning the repatriation and reburial of discovered Native American remains, on the other is one of the more significant scientific and historical discoveries of our time.
Wednesday, Gov. Jay Inslee called for the return of Kennewick Man's remains to a collaboration of Northwest affiliated Native American tribes, after the Army Corps of Engineers released the results of a study showing the 8.500 year old skeletal remains are those of a Native American.
Kennewick man was discovered along the banks of the Columbia River by two college students in 1996, and since then has been the subject of court battles. Scientists have wanted to continue to study the remains, saying it could teach us a LOT about ancient people and how they lived. However, there's a 1990 federal law, called the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPR) which requires discovered remains of Native Americans to be returned for reburial to the tribes they are most closely associated with.
After extensive DNA and other testing, the Corps of Engineers believes Kennewick Man fits the necessary criteria for such, and Gov. Inslee called for his return. Although the process may take some time, sources say this new information will now open the process for the tribes to take possession of Kennewick Man for re-burial.
Scientists have argued while that is important, they've wanted to have permission to study the nearly complete skeleton before it's returned.
One of the questions still left unanswered is why and how a spearhead became stuck in the skeleton's pelvic bone. The bones have been locked away for 19 years at the University of Washington, aside from a few months worth of radiation and DNA testing to determine his true ancestry.
It appears with the new Corps classification and Inslee's call for return, that Kennewick Man will indeed go to the tribes. They say upon his return, he will be buried in a secret location to prevent any attempts at what they call 'desecration' of the grave, or attempts to dig him up again.