Ancient One / Kennewick Man
Most American Indians do not appreciate having the graves of
our ancestors disturbed and their remains dissected and studied
in the name of science. This practice, generally supported by
non-Indian society, has come to the forefront over the past year
and a half with the unearthing of a skeleton near present-day
Kennewick, Washington. The media and the public have come to know
this individual as Kennewick Man.
We have tried to explain to the public and scientists that
our religious and cultural beliefs mandate that we rebury the
remains of this individual as soon as possible. Many people dont
seem to care about, or respect, our religious beliefs. So, rather
than present those points again, I will take this opportunity
to briefly address some of the scientific issues of this case.
We do not believe the issues surrounding this case are, in
any manner, related to scientific facts. Rather, the issues are
the result of an effort of a small group of scientists, through
a media campaign, to lay claim to materials which Congress did
not intend they have.
In their media campaign, the scientists have led the public
to believe they can produce considerable data by studying this
individual, including knowledge of the earliest peoples of this
continent. In an article published last summer in The New Yorker
magazine, scientists claim they already know a great deal about
Kennewick Man. They think he may have been a fisherman who ate
lots of salmon, that he was probably a tall, good-looking man,
slender and well proportioned, that he was part of a small band
of people who moved about, hunting, fishing, and gathering wild
plants, that he may have lived in a simple sewn tent or mat hut,
and that he may have worn tailored clothing.
The federal court, the Corps of Engineers, and the public should
be asking the scientists to demonstrate how they can tell these
things. These descriptions of the scientific "knowledge"
obtained by the scientists is purely speculation and hypothesis,
and do not advance our knowledge of this person, or mankind, a
single bit. Almost anyone seeing an old skeleton in that area
could have reached the same conclusions without destructive tests
like the scientists want to perform.
These scientists are alleging that racial origins can be determined
by examining the skeleton. But it is common knowledge among good
anthropologists that it is impossible to determine the so-called
"race" of an individual. A sample group is needed so
that common traits can be determined.
The Kennewick Man remains were examined by Dr. Grover Krantz
and there have been indications, using outdated techniques, that
the skull has some "Caucasoid" features, some "Native
American" features and a "Negroid" feature. Even
following the 19th century science used by Dr. Krantz, there are
3 possible origins.
Dr. Grover Krantz has been regarded primarily as an expert
on the "Big Foot" or "Sasquatch." From what
we understand, his research is regarded by many of his colleagues
as far from the mainstream of anthropology.
We also question the credibility and methodology of other scientists involved in the initial studies of Kennewick Man. Why hasnt a detailed report been compiled from those initial studies? Where is the statement of work and description of the methodology used? Were the studies conducted in accordance with the Archaeological Resources Protection Act (ARPA) as they should have been?
The "scientific case" for requiring the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to allow testing of these remains is, in our viewpoint, shaky to non-existent.
We want the public and scientists to understand that we do not reject science. In fact, we have anthropologists and other scientists on staff, and we use science every day to help in protecting our people and the land. However, we do reject the notion that science is the answer to everything and therefore it should take precedence over the religious rights and beliefs of American citizens.
Donald Sampson served as Chairman of the Board of Trustees
for the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation
from 1993 to Dec. 1997, when he decided not to run for re-election.
He has a Bachelors of Science Degree from the University
Other Ancient One information
| Who We Are | History & Culture | Our Government | Documents | News |
| Events | Jobs | Businesses | Our Community | Links |