The Bone Battle (Kennewick Man)

It all began on a beautiful Washington day.Two hydroplane spectators made a chance discovery of a skull partially embedded in the sediment of the Columbia River.They immediately called the sheriff who in turn informed the Kennewick police.Upon further inspection, the police came across more bones.Eventually, anthropologist James Chatters was sent to investigate.A seemingly simple case soon escalated into a massively complex situation as early analysis of the bones put the approximate age of the remains at over 8,400 years before present.In this archaeological instance, scientists were not only faced with barriers of the past, but also with obstacles of the present as multiple Native American tribes stepped forward claiming ancestry of the bones.
As soon as the Kennewick Man find was made public, many Native American tribes and groups began to file suit for repatriation under NAGPRA (Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act) regulations.Five Columbia Basin tribes, consisting of the Umatilla, Nez Perce, Yakama, Colville, and Wanapum filed a claim to the remains.Four of the tribes, the Umatilla, the Nez Perce, the Yakama, and the Wanapum, would like to rebury the remains.Armond Minthorn, a Umatilla trustee and religious leader, wrote:
If this individual is truly over 9,000 years old, that only substantiates our belief that he (Kennewick Man) is Native American.From our oral histories, we know that our people have been part of this land since the beginning of time…
Some scientists say that if this individual is not studied further, we, as Indians, will be destroying evidence of our own history.We already know our history.It is passed on to us through our elders and through our religious practices…
Our religious beliefs, culture, and our adopted policies and procedures tell us that this individual must be reburied as soon as possible.
The Colville tribe, unlike the preceding tribes, encouraged fu…

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