The famous skeleton Kennewick Man has been confirmed as Native American by experts at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, following DNA analysis. According to a report in The Seattle Times he will be buried by members of five tribes who claim to be relatives.
Since the discovery of the skeleton on Corps property near the Columbia River, debate has been underway about whether the body should be used for scientific research or returned to the tribes who want to rebury him. The skeleton is almost intact, and one of the oldest remains to ever be found on North American soil.
After the body was found, the Corps had initially decided to give the skeleton to the tribes, but they were sued by a group of scientists who argued that the remains should be used for research. The Smithsonian Institution’s Douglas Owsley was amongst the scientists who said that the skeleton was not a Native American, nor was it from the Columbia area. Owsley maintained that Kennewick Man was not from the area due to the high levels of isotopes found in his bones that suggested he had eaten a lot of marine life. Owsley noted that someone would have had to eat salmon 24 hours a day to achieve such levels, saying, ‘I think he is a coastal man.’
They are not what you would expect for someone from the Columbia Valley. You would have to eat salmon 24 hours a day and you would not reach these values. This is a man from the coast, not a man from here. I think he is a coastal man.
Daily Mail reports that the skeleton is now protected under the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, so it won’t be long until he is back in the ground; after the tribes file official claims to reclaim the remains.
The head of the Yakama Nation, JoDe Goudy, said that the tribes want to ‘collectively do what is right’.
Obviously we are hearing an acknowledgment from the Corps of what we have been saying for 20 years. Now we want to collectively do what is right, and bring our relative back for reburial.