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Ancient skeleton to return to Native Americans for reburial

One of the oldest and most complete skeletons found in North America will be given back to American Indian tribes in Washington state for reburial.
President Barack Obama signed a bill Monday with a provision requiring the ancient bones known as Kennewick Man be returned to tribes within 90 days.

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DNA reignites Kennewick Man debate

A long-running debate over an ancient skeleton known as Kennewick Man has been reignited. The 9,000-year-old was claimed as an ancestor by Native Americans, who called for his remains to be reburied.
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Kennewick Man Ate Mostly Seafood

Analysis of the 9,000-year-old remains of the so-called Kennewick man who lived in what is now Washington state reveals this actual Paleo man didnt eat much big game but rather got the bulk of his calories from fish and other seafood.
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Kennewick Man & Europeans In Ancient America

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Kennewick Man - Clovis/Solutrean - Haplogroup X



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Kennewick Man is the name for the skeletal remains of a prehistoric (Paleo-Indian) man found on a bank of the Columbia River in Kennewick, Washington, USA on July 28, 1996.

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Bill would allow study of ancient American remains

A federal law governing protection of American Indian graves would be amended to allow scientific study of ancient remains discovered on federal lands if the remains have not been tied to a current tribe, under a bill proposed by Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash. The bill marks the latest step in a dispute sparked by the 1996 discovery of Kennewick Man, one of the oldest and most complete skeletons ever found in North America.
Indian tribes and researchers battled over rights to the 9,300-year-old remains for nine years before a federal court sided with the scientists, allowing them to study the bones. Hastings said his bill counters efforts in the Senate that would prevent ancient remains from being studied in the future. He cited a case in Nevada in which tribal leaders have filed suit against the government to rebury the Spirit Cave Man remains, believed to be more than 10,000 years old.

"My proposal protects the rights of present-day Native Americans to claim the remains of their ancestors when found on federal lands. At the same time, it reiterates that in cases of truly ancient human remains -- such as Kennewick Man -- Congress does not intend to block scientific study" - Congressman Doc Hastings

Hastings is offering his fix in response to a proposed amendment that scientists say would allow federally recognised tribes to claim ancient remains even if they cannot prove a link to a current tribe. Matthew Tomaskin, legislative liaison for the Yakama Nation, said he was familiar with the proposal, but added that he wished Hastings had consulted the tribes.

Source Seattle Post-Intelligencer

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Kennewick man was laid to rest alongside a river more than 9,000 years ago, buried by other people, according to a leading forensic scientist.

The skeleton, one of the oldest and most complete ever found in North America, has been under close analysis since courts sided with researchers in a legal battle with Indian tribes in the Northwest who wanted the remains found near the Columbia River, in Washington state, reburied without study.
Douglas Owsley, an anthropologist at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History, discussed his findings in remarks prepared for delivery Thursday evening at a meeting of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences in Seattle, US.

"We know very little about this time period. This is a rare opportunity to try and reconstruct the life story of this man. ... This is his opportunity to tell us what life was like during that time" - Douglas Owsley


Position: 45.928970N -119.320283

Researchers have disagreed over whether Kennewick man was buried by other people or swept up in a flood and encased in sediment.
Owsley concluded the man was deliberately buried, between two and three feet deep, his body placed in the grave, head slightly higher than feet, hands placed at his sides.
The location was riverside, with the body parallel to the river and head pointing upstream.
Using an industrial CT scanner, Owsley was able to study the skeleton in fine sections and also get a better look at a spear or dart point imbedded in Kennewick man's hip.
The point has previously been described as a Cascade point, typical of the region, but Owsley said that is not the case. Cascade points tend to have two pointed ends and are sometimes serrated, while the point in Kennewick man has a pointed end and a stem.
The spear or dart entered the man from the front, moving downward at a 77-degree angle. Previous analysis had indicated it might have hit from the back.
The point was not the cause of death.

"This is a healed injury. There was no clear indication in the skeleton of cause of death...(Kennewick man had undergone)...a lot of injuries, this guy was tough as nails" - Douglas Owsley.

There are three types of fractures in the bones, ones the man suffered in his lifetime and which had healed; fractures that occurred after burial from aging of the bones and the ground settling, and breaks that occurred when the skeleton was unearthed.
A team of 20 forensic scientists has been studying the skeleton, he said, and have concluded that the skull doesn't match those of Indian tribes living in the area.

"We know very little about this time period. Who the people were that were the earliest people that came to America. We are finding out they were coming thousands of years earlier than we had thought. This is a very rare discovery. You could count on your fingers the number of relatively complete skeletons from this time period" - Douglas Owsley.

Following discovery of the bones in 1996, the Umatilla, Yakama, Nez Perce and Colville tribes urged that the skeleton be reburied without scientific study. They argued that the bones were covered under the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act.
Scientists sued for a chance to study the remains and a federal court ruled there was no link between the skeleton and the tribes.

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After nearly a decade of court battles, scientists plan to begin studying the 9,300-year-old skeleton known as Kennewick Man next week.

A team of scientists plans to examine the bones at the University of Washington's Burke Museum in Seattle beginning July 6, according to their attorney, Alan Schneider.
Four Northwest Indian tribes had opposed the study, claiming the skeleton could be an ancestor who should be buried. The Interior Department and the Army Corps of Engineers had sided with the tribes.
But a federal judge in Portland, backed by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, ruled that the researchers could study the bones to determine how the man died and to find clues to prehistoric life in North America.
"What they're getting is absolutely essential baseline information that has never been obtained for this skeleton," Schneider said Tuesday.
The bones quickly attracted attention from scientists after they were found in 1996 on a Columbia River bank near Kennewick, Wash.
The skeleton is one of the oldest and most complete skeletons ever found on the continent. The long, narrow shape of the skull shows characteristics unlike modern American Indians, raising questions that researchers hope to answer with extensive study.
"Understanding human variation is really critical," said Cleone Hawkinson, Portland anthropologist who founded Friends of America's Past to support scientific access to the ancient remains. "We can't close off an entire chapter in history."
She noted the eight anthropologists who filed the original lawsuit seeking access had to pay for their legal costs and the research, or seek funding for it. No government money was involved.
"It's all coming out of the scientists' pockets," Hawkinson said.
The researchers plan to do what is called a "taphonomic" examination of the skeleton, taking measurements and making observations about the processes that affect animal and plant remains as they become fossilized. Further study is planned based on the initial findings, Schneider said.
"Taphonomy is really a forensic examination," Schneider said. "You try to determine everything that has affected the skeleton from day of death until you study it."
A coalition of four tribes the Umatilla, Yakama, Colville and Nez Perce claimed the bones were covered by the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act and belonged to the tribes.
U.S. District Judge John Jelderks and the appeals court, however, ruled the tribes could prove no direct link to the bones and the act did not apply.
The tribes have appealed the most recent 9th Circuit ruling, but attorneys involved in the case and Jelderks' office said a decision still is pending. Calls to tribal officials were not immediately returned.
Legislation remains under consideration in Congress that would allow federally recognized tribes to claim ancient remains even if they cannot prove a link to a current tribe.

http://www.friendsofpast.org/


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