while bones lay deep in the drawers of Burke Museum

In a wholly different phase of litigation, Rob Roy Smith, an attorney for the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Indian Reservation, stated that Native American tribes are asking a federal court to grant them full party status with the government and scientists negotiating a plan to study the bones. Smith said the tribes hope to prevent certain specific study activities that would destroy the bones. Tribes are concerned that repeated handling by multiple scientists may cause erosion.

The scientists and the government have yet to agree on a plan outlining the series of tests that would be conducted on the 9,300-year-old bones.

The Tribes accept the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals' decision that the remains are not unequivocally Native American as defined under the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act although they do not totally agree about the tests to be conducted.

But they believe a lesser burden of proof documenting religious and cultural interest under other sections of law give them the legal standing to help guide the study process. If their oral histories and beliefs were not enough to get the remains conclusively declared to be Native American, there is evidence of a great connection.

The tribes want the bones, now stored in the Burke Museum in Seattle, to be returned to them for burial when the studies are finished.

Naomi Sherer for Michael Sherer, Editor
Read a newspaper reporter's view of discovery of ancient bones

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