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Old Bones Could Be Given Back to Tribes

Anna King
10/04/2007

Kennewick Man has spent 9,000 years in the ground and 10 years embroiled in a legal battle. But where the ancient bones should rest is still up for debate. A bill passed last week by the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs could reopen the case between scientists who want to study, and the Native Americans who want to rebury the ancient remains. Correspondent Anna King reports.

KENNEWICK MAN IS A 9,000–YEAR-OLD, NEARLY COMPLETE SKELETON FOUND ON THE BANKS OF THE COLUMBIA RIVER IN 1996. RIGHT NOW THE SKELETON IS STORED AT THE UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON'S BURKE MUSEUM WHERE SCIENTISTS HAVE BEEN STUDYING THE REMAINS.

BUT THAT COULD CHANGE. A BILL PASSED LAST WEEK BY THE COMMITTEE ON INDIAN AFFAIRS COULD REOPEN KENNEWICK MAN'S CASE.

HAWKINSON: "Yes Kennewick Man could be reburied and if it were the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla they have publicly stated that it would be in a scared, secret place so that no one would really know where those remains would be. "

THAT'S CLEO HAWKINSON, WITH FRIENDS OF AMERICA'S PAST, SHE ONE OF MANY SCIENTISTS WHO WANTS TO STUDY THE BONES. SHE SAYS SHE'S WORRIED THE BILL WILL SLIP THROUGH WITHOUT MUCH DEBATE.

THE CHANGE THAT REOPENS THE DEBATE WOULD ADD A COUPLE OF IMPORTANT WORDS INTO A LAW CALLED NAG–PRA AND ALLOW THE RETURNING OF REMAINS AND ARTIFACTS EVEN IF THEY AREN'T LINKED TO PRESENT DAY TRIBES.

A FEW YEARS AGO THE 9TH CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS RULED THAT KENNEWICK MAN ISN'T RELATED TO MODERN NORTHWEST TRIBES WHO CLAIM HIM AS AN ANCESTOR.

THE BILL HAS TO PASS THE U.S. SENATE AND HOUSE BEFORE BECOMING LAW.

I'M ANNA KING IN RICHLAND.

℗ Copyright 2007, KUOW News

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