Archaeology Magazine Archive

A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America

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It's Official: Kennewick Man Goes Native Volume 53 Number 2, March/April 2000
by Kristin M. Romey

The U.S. Department of the Interior has announced the results of additional radiocarbon dating of Kennewick Man. The original 1996 radiocarbon date of 8410±60 years has been corroborated by two samples that registered dates of 8130±40 and 8410±40 years. In accordance with the 1990 federal Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, the government has classified Kennewick Man as Native American. A tribe must demonstrate "cultural affiliation" with Kennewick Man, however, in order to claim the remains. Five Northwest Indian tribes claim Kennewick Man as an ancestor and demand that his bones be reburied.

Anthropologists have filed a lawsuit to block repatriation of the remains. They contend that DNA tests are necessary in order to determine if Kennewick Man shares a cultural affiliation with the tribes that are claiming him.

District Court in Oregon has ordered the National Park Service to reach a conclusion on Kennewick Man's cultural affiliation by March 24, 2000. Four experts will submit a report based upon archaeological, linguistic, ethnographic, bioarchaeological and traditional historic information.

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© 2000 by the Archaeological Institute of America