Sites & cities that bear the name of Kennewick Man

Kennewick Man

Today in : United States of America
First trace of activity : ca. 7,000 B.C.E
Last trace of activity : ca. 6,900 B.C.E

Description : Kennewick Man is the name generally given to the skeletal remains of a prehistoric Paleoamerican man found on a bank of the Columbia River in Kennewick, Washington, United States, on July 28, 1996. It is one of the most complete ancient skeletons ever found. Radiocarbon tests on bone have shown it to date from 8,900 to 9,000 calibrated years before present, but it was not until 2013 that ancient DNA analysis techniques had improved enough to shed light on the remains. In June 2015, it was announced that Kennewick Man had most genetic similarity among living peoples to Native Americans, including those in the Columbia River region where the skeleton was found. The discovery led to considerable controversy for more than a decade. The Umatilla people and other tribes demanded the remains be returned for reburial under the federal Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA). The law was designed to return human remains and cultural objects which had long been unlawfully obtained or taken from them. In this case, the archaeologists who studied the bones, James Chatters and Douglas Owsley, the latter with the Smithsonian Institution, both asserted that the bones were only distantly related to today's Native Americans. They also said the remains had features that more closely resembled Polynesian or Southeast Asian peoples, a finding that would exempt the bones from NAGPRA. Kennewick Man became the subject of a controversial nine-year court case between the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), scientists, and Native American tribes who claimed ownership of the remains. Under NAGPRA, the tribes had the right to rebury the remains of Kennewick Man and to refuse scientific study of the man they referred to as "the Ancient One". The US Army Corps of Engineers, which oversaw the land where the remains were found, initially agreed with the requests of the tribes. Before the transfer could be made, Owsley, along with seven other anthropologists including Smithsonian colleague Dennis Stanford, filed a lawsuit asserting the scientific right to study the skeleton. In February 2004, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that a direct cultural link between any of the Native American tribes and Kennewick Man could not be proved because of the age of the remains. Its ruling allowed scientific study to continue while the USACE retained custody of the remains. In July 2005, a team of scientists from around the United States convened in Seattle to study the remains in detail. Their research results were published in 2014 in Kennewick Man: The Scientific Investigation of an Ancient American Skeleton edited by Douglas Owsley and Richard Jantz. In June 2015, it was made public that scientists at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark determined through DNA from 8,500‑year-old bones that Kennewick Man is, in fact, related to modern Native Americans, including the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation from the region in which his bones were found. The international team of scientists had communicated that finding to the Army Corps of Engineers in 2013. Chatters, the discoverer of the bones, eight years after originally assessing the skull as looking "caucasoid", changed his conclusions after finding similar skull shapes among confirmed ancestors of Native Americans. The results did not surprise scientists who study the genetics of ancient people, as almost all Paleoamericans "have shown strong genetic ties with modern Native Americans". Analysis showed that Kennewick Man is "very closely related to the Colville" tribe in northeast Washington. In September 2016, 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 coalition includes the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, the Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation, the Nez Perce Tribe, the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Reservation, and the Wanapum Band of Priest Rapids. The remains were buried on February 18, 2017, with 200 members of five Columbia Basin tribes in attendance, at an undisclosed location in the area.

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