The Kennewick Man

Kennewick Man

Kenniwick Man
Kenniwick Man

The Kennewick Man

Copyright 2009 VVeasey Publishing


Before we move on to the theme of this hub. Let's look at another case about who were the first people in the Americas i.e. the original Native Americans.

Native means belonging to a particular place by birth, as in native to Wisconsin, (Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary), making anyone born in the United States a Native American.

In 1996 the remains of a 9000 year old fossil of a man, dubbed the Kennewick man, was found near the Columbia River in Kennewick Washington State, causing a brewing controversy to stew over who legally own it and whether it was of Indian (Native American) origin or not.

More fuel was thrown on the fire when Anthropologist Jim Chatters and sculptor Thomas McClelland created a sculptured image of the fossil’s face that looked like a white man, (resembling the actor Patrick Stewart of Star Track Fame) although it was pointed out the image also looks like the 1833 portrait of Chief Black Hawk.

Four Indian Tribes StakeTheir Claim

Four Indian tribes, The Nez Perce, Umatilla, Yakama and Colville immediately claimed the fossil as their ancestor, the ancient one, and filed a claim in July 31, 1996 for the right to possess and rebury the fossil according to their religious laws.

It seems as long as the fossil was thought to be “Native American” (which has come to mean virtually anyone of American Indian descent), the tribes didn’t have a problem with scientific analysis being done on the remains to determine their age. But war clouds started rising when the fossil’s age and its accompanying artifacts were found to be older and unlike any previous “Native American” fossils or finds, explicitly challenging the long held idea that Indians are the first Americans.

The scientists involved ostensibly sought the right to examine the fossil to further help extend the knowledge of when and whom the first humans were to arrive on the continent. But since the race of the fossil has became an underlying issue, some scientists may have a conscious or unconscious investment in “seeing” the fossil as white or non-Indian, (just as the tribes want to see it as Indian), although there is nothing apparent to suggest that’s the case. But the point has been made by Knute Berger (a white male writer) that that may be partly what’s going on here.

He paints the interesting scenario that whites, including some scientists, may have long been intentionally and unintentionally attempting to justify forcefully taking the land from the Indians with ideas like manifest destiny, being descendants of the Lost Tribes of Israel, and now, through the fossil, descendants of the first Americans, as a way of staking a deeper claim to the land other than through the history of brute force.

The ensuing court battle was essentially about whether Indians tribes, who saw the fossil as the remains of one of their ancestors, could legally lay claim to the fossil or any human fossils for that matter, discovered in the United States, predating 1492 when the first Europeans were thought to have arrived on the shores of the Americas.

The US Circuit Court subsequently ruled against the tribes citing, that there’s no evidence to support the fossil as being a direct ancestor of the Indians since, nothing is known about the race or culture of the Kennewick Man, which seems a reasonable conclusion to me,

But when peoples egos, sense of self, self-pride and sense of cultural identity are in question, it turns what should be a search for objective truth about the fossil, into a subjective search for ways to maintain one’s cultural self-image and to reject anything that will tarnish its illustrious glow.

Kennewick Man

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Comments 6 comments

vveasey profile image

vveasey 4 years ago from Detroit,MI Author


Thanks for your comments

You're right it does depend on how the question is asked as well as what question one chooses to ask!

lrc7815 profile image

lrc7815 4 years ago from Central Virginia

Anthropology is much like any other science or theory. The answers often depend on how you ask the question. lol Great hub and food for thought.

vveasey profile image

vveasey 4 years ago from Detroit,MI Author


I'm familiar with the research and I second what you say

But the various tribes did fight among themselves as history has shown all humans tend to do

Amethystraven profile image

Amethystraven 4 years ago from California

If you do research on the Anasazi, Hohokam, and the Athabaskan people, you will discover it has been said the first people in America before it was called America, migrated from East Asia through Canada and Alaska. People migrated for survival. They followed food sources. Some settled, some traveled continuously. Personally Humans are all native to Mother Earth. People who coexist with Mother Earth do just that. Ownership is an illusion. Imminent domain is proof of that. Finding out how long humans have been on this planet is extremely important. It shows a timeline of when and where that person originated, but does not in any way prove ownership. I have strong feelings about how native people were treated when other men came to this land. People who rape, murder, mutilate, and thieve are savage no matter where they come from. People who coexist with Mother Earth and each other are in no way savage or destructive. Simple or natural are a better description for those who coexist with one another peacefully for the purpose of survival.

vveasey profile image

vveasey 6 years ago from Detroit,MI Author

Thanks for your comments Sammy. You imply by your comments that you're a "Native American". I'm glad to see that you have an open mind about this topic.

Take Care

Sammy 6 years ago

I actually heard once that there was a race related to or identical to Australian Aborigines who lived here before our people were here. Although we beilieve we have always been here and were the only ones, it's been proven that we migrated from Mid East Asia(somewhere around Nepal/Tibet?, and it isn't impossible

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