In the high desert of the Columbia Plateau, more than people gathered early Saturday to lay the Ancient One to rest, returning his 9,year-old remains to an undisclosed location not far from the Columbia River. There was a feeling of finality and catharsis for those who had fought for 20 years to reclaim and repatriate the remains of an ancient ancestor who came to be called Kennewick Man, said Chuck Sams, communications director for the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation.
The morning was overcast and chilly but the rain held off, he said. Unearthed from the banks of the Columbia River in , the bones comprise one of the oldest and most complete human skeletons ever discovered in North America. The find set off a bitter legal battle between scientists who wanted to study the remains and local tribes who wanted them reinterred.
While tribes thought the issue would be quickly resolved under the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, scientists won in court and conducted several rounds of analysis on the bones. Under legislation signed by former President Barack Obama in December , the remains were transferred from the federal government to the tribes. Powell used craniometric data obtained by anthropologist William White Howells of Harvard University and anthropologist Tsunehiko Hanihara of Saga University ; this had the advantage of including data drawn from Asian and North American populations.
The biological diversity among ancient skulls in the Americas has complicated attempts to establish how closely Kennewick Man is related to any modern Native American tribes. The origin of that diversity, whether from different lineages or local adaptation, is a matter of debate. In , a day examination of the skeleton, led by forensic anthropologist Douglas Owsley, revealed that Kennewick Man had arthritis in his right elbow, both of his knees, and several vertebrae but not severe enough to be crippling.
Owsley discovered that Kennewick Man had also suffered some trauma in his lifetime, which was evident by a fractured rib that had healed, a depression fracture on his forehead, and a similar indentation on the left side of the head, and a spear jab that healed. Despite earlier theories regarding his age, the Owsley team thinks he may have been as young as 38 at the time of death. Kennewick Man was found to have been deliberately buried. By examining the calcium carbonate left behind as underground water collected on the underside of the bones and then evaporated, scientists were able to conclude that Kennewick Man was lying on his back with his feet rolled slightly outward and his arms at his side, with the palms facing down, a position that could not have been accidental.
Owsley and Richard L. Measurements of carbon, nitrogen, and oxygen isotope ratios in the bone collagen indicate that the man lived almost exclusively on a diet of marine mammals for the last 20 or so years of his life and that the water he drank was glacial melt water.
That, combined with the location of the find, led to the conclusion that the individual led a highly mobile, water-borne lifestyle centered on the northern coast.
In June , new results of such aDNA analysis were announced, suggesting that the remains are more closely related to modern Native Americans than to any other living population. His genetic profile was particularly close to that of members of the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation.
Of the five tribes that originally claimed Kennewick Man as an ancestor, their members were the only ones to donate DNA samples for evaluation. The lack of genomes from North American aboriginal populations have made it impossible to ascertain Kennewick Man's nearest living relatives among regional Native American tribes.
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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 similarity of some ancient skeletal remains in the Americas, such as Kennewick Man, to coastal Asian phenotypes is suggestive of more than one migration source.
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Regardless of the debate over whether there were more than one source of migration following the LGM, Kennewick Man has yielded insight into the marine lifestyle and mobility of early coastal migrants. In , Burke Museum archeologists voiced concern and criticism of the Owsley team's findings. First, it was noted that no one outside of Owsley's team had an opportunity to examine the Smithsonian's data to see how the team reached its conclusions. Second, the absence of peer-reviewed articles published prior to Owsley unveiling the bones' secrets was criticized.
Standard procedure in the academic world is for scientists to submit articles to scholarly journals, have other experts review the articles prior to publication, and have experts debate results after publication. While Owsley consulted extensively with his group of experts, he has yet to publish a scholarly article on Kennewick Man. There's no place for anyone to look at the actual data.
You have to have a higher amount of scrutiny in the scientific process," said Peter Lape, the curator of archaeology at the Burke Museum and an associate professor of archaeology at the University of Washington. Third, Owsley's non-Native argument hinged on the assumption that Kennewick Man's skull was a reliable means of assessing ancestry. Finally, the process raised conflict of interest questions.
The team fighting for custody of the remains to perform a study would draw conclusions that would influence the outcome of that battle. 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 may claim them. The Umatilla tribe requested custody of the remains and wanted to bury them according to tribal tradition. Their claim was contested by researchers hoping to study the remains.
The Umatilla argued that their oral history goes back 10, years and say that their people have been present on their historical territory since the dawn of time. Robson Bonnichsen and seven other anthropologists sued the United States for the right to conduct tests on the skeleton.
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 argue that it agrees 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.
Passage of this bill would not resolve the controversy related to Kennewick Man, as there would have to be a determination of which Native American group should take possession of the remains if he could not be definitively linked with a current tribe. As of , the remains were at the Burke Museum at the University of Washington , where they were deposited in October The Burke Museum was the court-appointed neutral repository for the remains and did not exhibit them.
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They were then still legally the property of the US Army Corps of Engineers, as they were found on land under its custody. The Corps of Engineers continued to deny scientists' requests to conduct additional studies of the skeleton.
A first attempt at DNA analysis in the early s found that meaningful results were impossible to attain from the ancient DNA aDNA with the techniques available at that time. With changes in technology, additional DNA testing of remains has been conducted by an analytical laboratory in Denmark. A e-mail from the laboratory to the US Corps of Engineers stated their belief, based on preliminary results of analysis, that the specimen contained Native American DNA. The laboratory was not ready to release final results or discuss the conclusions. Reporter Jack Hitt wrote in that "racial preferences color" the controversy about the genetic origin and ancestry of Kennewick Man.
The use of the word "Caucasoid" in Chatter's report and his facial reconstruction were taken by many to mean that Kennewick Man was "Caucasian", European, and "white" rather than an ancestor of present-day Native Americans.
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The Corps of Engineers and federal government supported the Native American claim in what became a long-running lawsuit. The results of genetic investigations published in strongly pointed toward a Native American ancestry of Kennewick Man. The genetic evidence adds to evidence that ancestors of the New World's aboriginal peoples originated in Siberia and migrated across a land mass that spanned the Bering Strait during the last ice age, and undermines alternative theories that some early migrants arrived from Southeast Asia or even Europe.
In September , the US House and Senate passed legislation to return the ancient bones to a coalition of Columbia Basin tribes for reburial according to their traditions. The following day, more than members of five Columbia Plateau tribes were present at a burial of the remains. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Retrieved November 8, A Battle Over Bones". Archived from the original on January 26, Retrieved January 7, David; Zollikofer, Christoph P. Retrieved February 20, Kennewick man is discovered".
Retrieved 27 July Archived from the original on October 23, Retrieved February 28, Smithsonian Institution , USA. Archived from the original on June 16, Retrieved February 5, Originally published in the "Newsletter of the American Anthropological Association". Kennewick Man and the First Americans. Retrieved October 12, Archived from the original on December 10, Retrieved April 25, Retrieved September 10,
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