Interesting piece on the Seattle Times that looks both at repatriation issues and highlights new isotopic research.
Kennewick Man was found in 1996 on the banks of the Columbia River in Kennewick, Washington. Columbia plateau tribes fought legal battles for nine years to have the remains of the 9500 year old skeleton reburied, but were ruled against on the grounds that the bones were so old that they could not be considered to be Native American. There’s a useful summary of the story on the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History website.
Physical anthropologist Doug Owsley from the Smithsonian met last week with tribal representatives to present the results of the analysis of Kennewick Man. The biggest surprise emerged from the isotope analysis, which indicates to Owsley that he did not originally come from the Columbia Valley: “They are not what you would expect for someone from the Columbia Valley,” he said. “You would have to eat salmon 24 hours a day and you would not reach these values. “This is a man from the coast, not a man from here. I think he is a coastal man.”
The article goes on to describe some of the reactions from those attending the presentation.
UPDATE (Tony): Now that’s interesting, although I wish there were more on the analyses and less on the ‘reactions’. FYI, being “Native American” legally implies only that he was genetically related in ancestor-descendent fashion to some modern tribe, not about whether he was born here. Suggests that there was probably more movement of people going on than generally thought.