Why Was Kennewick Man Reburied So Quickly?
by Kyle Rogers, 2003
Thousands of years ago Kennewick man lived and hunted in what is now
Washington State. His tribe was among the first to cross the land
bridge into North America. He had a hard life and lived with many
serious injuries, including a spear point embedded in his pelvis. He
died in his forties and was buried by his kinsman.
As chance would have it a volcanic eruption would provide a layer of
tephra to help preserve his remains, and the shifting of the Columbia
River would unearth him thousands of years later…On July 28, 1996, spectators of a hydroplane race found bones along the
Columbia River in Kennewick, Washington on land owned by the U.S. Army
Corps of Engineers. The bones were deemed to be very old and were
turned over to an anthropologist by the county coroner. One month
later, anthropologist Jim Chatters held a sensational press conference.
The bones were among the oldest ever found in North America and
appeared to have Caucasian features.
The long narrow face, prominent chin, and tall stature of Kennewick
man differed from Paleo-Indian remains. A now famous facial
reconstruction done by James Chatters and Central Washington
University’s Tom McClelland shows a Caucasian man resembling the actor
Key facial measurements of Kennewick Man show a similarity to
Eastern Russians and the Ainu of Japan. The Ainu are a Caucasian
minority who once possessed the whole of the Japanese Islands. A people
closely related to the Ainu also once lived in Polynesia and many
light-skinned Polynesians (typically from the ruling class) have facial
features similar to Kennewick Man.
Kennewick Man was rapidly rewriting history, and scientific
communities around the globe were anxious for exhaustive research on
However, after James Chatters held his press conference, five Indian
tribal councils sued for control of the remains under the Native
American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act of 1990. The Indians
claimed that the remains were of their ancestor based on their “oral
tradition;” that modern Indian racial types have exclusively lived in
the Americas since the dawn of time and that the land bridge never
existed. The tribal councils argued that the bones must be reburied out
of respect for their superstitions.
Indian activists have long been fighting the study of pre-Columbian
remains and artifacts to preserve their political clout based on their
claim to be the sole possessors of North America before Columbus.
In August of 1996 the bones underwent extensive radiocarbon dating
with results ranging from 7,000 to 12,000 years and averaging 9,200.
Radiocarbon dating is a somewhat flawed science because it only
considers carbon-14 depletion from half-life decay and does not
compensate for the loss of carbon-14 by other factors. However,
radiocarbon dating can tell us relative age, and only one Paleo-Indian
skeleton has been found in the region that was of a similar age. It is
also reasonable to believe that Kennewick man is one of the six oldest
skeletons found in North America.
Jim Chatters applied for permits to conduct archaeological digs on
the site under the Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1976. A
second set of remains found in September was seized by the government
and expatriated to the tribal councils before it could be studied. This
second skeleton is known as “Richland Man.”
In September of 1996 the United States Army Corps of Engineers
announced that Kennewick man would be handed over to the Indian tribal
council after a mandatory 30-day period for the scientists to
counter-sue. Eight anthropologists, including two from the Smithsonian
(historically left-wing and politically correct), sued for the right to
study the remains. Their legal request stated, “Repatriation will
deprive scholars of any opportunity or right to study this treasure,”
and “Study of the skeleton would be of a major benefit to the United
States.” Jerry Meninick, vice chairman of the Yakama Indian Nation
replied, “Let the anthropologists study their own bones.”
The Army Corps of Engineers ordered the remains and all research
samples to be placed in a sealed vault at Batelle labs pending a court
decision. However, the scientists were shocked when the Army Corps of
Engineers opened the vault and allowed Indians to perform religious
ceremonies over the bones three times between September of 1996 and
April of 1997.
During that time a third party entered the legal fight. The Asatru
Folk Assembly, which promotes Nordic mythology and white tribalism,
counters the Indian suit claiming Kennewick man is their ancestor. In
August of 1997 AFA leader Steve McNallan gained national attention when
he held a demonstration in front of Batelle Labs with a dozen followers
dressed in Viking garb.
In November of 1997, U.S. Rep Doc Hastings (R-Wash) introduced a
bill that would allow the scientists to study Kennewick man. While
scientists across America praised the bill, Indian activists viciously
On April 1, 1998 the Army Corps of Engineers, no longer wanting
involvement, turned the remains over to the department of the Interior.
On April 6, the Army Corps of Engineers horrified America’s scientific
community when trucks began dumping rocks and dirt on the site where
Kennewick man was found. Earth Construction of Orofino, Idaho was paid
$160,000 by the Army to cover 250 feet of the Columbia Rivers’
shoreline with rocks, dirt, and trees. Indian activists praised the
Rep. Hastings and Senator Slade Gorton (R-Wash) appealed in vain to
Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbit to halt the destruction of the
Kennewick site by the Army. Hastings stated, “today’s’ actions by the
corps defies common sense and goes against the clear-cut congressional
intent.” The eight scientists who had sued for the right to study the
bones condemned the destruction of the sight but said that they could
not afford to sue the Army over it. They had already spent a quarter
million in legal fees over Kennewick Man.
In June of 1998 the Clinton Administration sided with Indian
activists and opposed the Hastings bill. However, Katherine H.
Stevenson, an associate director at the U.S. Department of the
Interior’s National Park Service, acknowledged that the scientists
should have been given time to study the remains before repatriation of
the bones under current law.
In late June the department of the Interior began mediation between
the scientists, Indian tribal councils, and the Asatru Folk Assembly.
They all reported to Magistrate Judge John Jelderks on July 1. A plan
to study the bones was approved under the conditions that they be
“treated as a human ancestor deserving respect and consideration,”
In February of 1999, scientists were allowed to begin specific tests
approved by the Department of the Interior. On September 2000, research
was halted on orders from the Department of the Interior. Secretary
Bruce Babbitt cited the “oral tradition” of regional Indians as
evidence that the remains belonged to them. Kennewick Man was stored to
the protective care of Burke Museum in Washington pending further
action by the courts, where he remains as of the writing of this
On October of 2000, the federal government released an overdue
independent report on Kennewick Man. The report claimed that Kennewick
Man is Polynesian and not related to Indians or modern Caucasians. The
government’s analysis was largely regarded as sloppy and politically
Spirit Cave Mummy
In 1940, archaeologists discovered a well-preserved naturally
mummified corpse in Spirit Cave in Nevada. The remains were stored in a
sealed box at the Nevada State Museum until 1994, when radiocarbon
dating placed the remains at the same time period as Kennewick Man. The
Spirit Cave mummy looks like Kennewick Man and has all of the same
Caucasian features. While DNA tests of Kennewick man were unsuccessful,
the Spirit Cave Mummy is a better candidate for viable DNA testing.
However, a local Indian tribe has stepped in demanding control of the
remains, and research on the mummy was ordered to halt before DNA tests
could be done.
Along with the remains of the Spirit Cave Mummy were numerous
artifacts demonstrating an advanced and non-Indian culture. Most
notable were textiles using diamond-plaited matting, formerly
considered to be a much newer technology. Fork Rock Cave in Oregon
yielded more physical evidence of a non-Indian culture. Intricate
sagebrush saddles, tools, and textiles were found that are strikingly
different from any identified paleo-Indian culture.
Lovelock Cave Mummy
Lovelock cave is eighty miles from Reno and the sites were in 1911
guano miners found numerous sets of remains naturally mummified under
four feet of guano. While advance testing was not available, the
remains were carefully documented. The most striking trait to be
discovered was the red hair found on some of the remains. The remains
are also taller than Amerindians, and photographs of the skulls show a
close resemblance to Kennewick man.
Several modern Indian tribes have legends of pale skinned and/or
red-haired peoples. In fact, the Paiutes, a tribe native to Nevada,
have a legend about exterminating an enemy tribe of red-haired peoples.
Asian DNA contains four different haplotypes, including A, B, C,
& D. Indian remains have the same four, plus one extra. The
haplotype X is found exclusively in European Caucasian populations as
well as some Indian DNA. Researchers claim that the introduction of
haplotype X into the Indian gene pool occurred thousands of years ago
and is not the result of interbreeding with any recent group such as
A picture is emerging of an ancient Caucasian people who crossed
into North America only to be wiped out by successive waves of
Some DNA tests on Indian remains have found other genetic markers similar to Eastern Russians.
Politics, political correctness, and especially some groups’
mythology should not be allowed to stop scientific research that is
uncovering our ancient history.
Modern American Indians are far from being the sole possessors of
North America in ancient times. North America is the burial ground of a
diverse range of racial, and sub-racial types. All the previous
cultures and races were exterminated and/or absorbed by modern Indians.
The Indians are an anomaly for North America, because they weren’t
completely wiped out. Their European conquerors had respect for them
and allowed them to maintain their racial, ethnic, and cultural
identities and manage their own tribal affairs with semi-autonomy
within the United States and Canada.
If Europeans are to be held accountable for reducing the population
of Indians, perhaps the Indians should be held accountable for the
extermination of Kennewick Man’s people, the Mound Builders, and others.
The focus of this article was on Kennewick Man and remains
specifically related to Kennewick Man. I did not focus on any of the
Caucasian cultures that crossed the Atlantic and came to America. This
is another very exciting topic, largely ignored for political reasons.
” The easiest way of silencing someone is to call them a
racist … Today we have politics that says,’Oh, my God. You shouldn’t
say those things about the past or you shouldn’t be able to research
the remains of past people in the Americas for political reasons.’ But
what happens in future generations when that politics is gone and all
the skeletons that once told the stories of those people are also gone
and back in the ground, destroyed by natural soil processes?” – Dr.
” Kennewick Man is all about extinction. His people were
bred out or wiped out by invaders, and those interlopers are given
credit for all his technology..his inventiveness…his hopes and dreams.
Kennewick Man was a warning that it can happen to us, too. If you want
to honor him, work to ensure that European Americans, and European
people generally, do not follow him into oblivion. (If you do not think
that such a fate is possible, you haven’t been reading the
demographics.) ” – Stephen McNallen