The continuing duel over the remains of Kennewick Man is by and large complete. When we look back over this court sanctioned "Indian war" there are many examples as to why the Native American community is distrustful of the Europeans and their institutions. There should be wonder when one looks at the maneuvering that has been aimed at circumventing the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA).
First, allow me to bring you up to speed. Our regular readers and those who have followed this story know that almost a year has passed since the skeletal remains known as Kennewick Man were sent to the Burke Museum in Seattle WA. This was to initially study the skeleton to determine its origins. The phrase "non-invasive testing" was used. The truth is bureaucrats in all fields use euphemisms to hide what they really want. The report issued was a re-iteration of Jim Chatters preliminary finding when the bones were first discovered. The bones are of a man between the ages of 45 and 50 years old with a spear point embedded in his hip which was not the cause of death.
Once that was released, it should not have come as a surprise that those doing the studies told everyone that they needed to do more studies. That, quite naturally, was when the term "non-invasive" was replaced with "minute samples". What came out of this next round of investigative studies was that, first, there is no correlative comparison between known types. In other words the remains were not Caucasoid or Negroid. They were similar to an obscure Asian sub-group (but not really). Second, the dates from the bone samples would be back from the laboratories in December or early January.
Thatís right - bone samples. They took three samples and sent them to three different labs for analysis. When the results were made public what do you think was found? Well, it was established that Kennewick Man was between 9,320 and 9,510 years old. This was mildly irritating to me, and a source of pride, I would imagine, for the people at The University of California at Riverside. The dates they came up with way back in 1997 were 9,200 and 9,600 B.P.
Last fall the judge in the case suggested that the only real way that a resolution as to who the bones belonged to would be through DNA testing. The case being discussed here is the one brought by five anthropologists to deny reburial in favor of studying the remains: However, as time goes on we see that science is doing most, if not all, of the studies on Kennewick man that they care to do. Further we see that Judge DeJerk is encouraging even more studies and is prepared to extend the March deadline to make room for those DNA studies.
This would not be as difficult as one would think. The reason, I have learned, is that for a number of years certain Universities have been compiling DNA databases of Native American students. Yet, the bureaucrat representing (?) NAGPRA implies that there may not be enough DNA material in the bones to give a "conclusive outcome". What that really means is, "We are going to grind this skeleton into powder, so that we can prove you Indians are right - he is one of your ancestors."
Yes, the bureaucrats and scientists are having their way with Kennewick man. The federal judge is making sure of that. He is, through apathy, incompetence and maybe even some chauvinistic racism, giving the rest of the whites what they want. That is to keep Native America at a disadvantage in the knowledge that their culture was alive and viable, before the Great White Father came to save them.
As a post script: this past week (2-22-00) the permission and go ahead for DNA testing was given. Needless to say the local tribes were not consulted. But as I have maintained all along, the whites and the taxpayer subsidized scientists are going to have their way. The bureaucrats and courts are here to make sure of that.
Michael Sherer, Editor
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