December 07, 2007

Scientists vs. tribes over bones

Scientists protest Indian tribe control over ancient remainsScientists hoping to study the ancient skeleton known as Kennewick Man are protesting efforts on two fronts that they say could block them from examining one of the oldest and most complete ever found in North America.

For the third time in four years, the scientists oppose a Senate bill that would allow federally recognized tribes to claim ancient remains even if they can't prove a link to a current tribe.
Dueling views on the proposed legislation:If adopted, the proposed changes could "result in a world heritage disaster of unprecedented proportions" and "rob our descendants of the unique insights concerning the shared heritage of all people that physical anthropological studies of culturally unidentifiable human remains can provide," the American Association of Physical Anthropologists said in a statement.

Supporters call such concerns overblown.

They say the changes are intended to clarify the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, or NAGPRA, to ensure that federally recognized tribes can safeguard the graves of their ancestors.

Neither the Senate bill nor the draft regulations would affect the 9,300-year-old bones known as Kennewick Man, they said. The skeleton was discovered in 1996 along the Columbia River near Kennewick, Wash., and has been the focus of a bitter fight ever since.

A federal appeals court ruled in 2004 that scientists can study the ancient bones, and teams of anthropologists and other analysts have begun poring over more than 300 bones and bone fragments at the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture in Seattle, where the remains are housed.


writerfella said...

Writerfella here --
Should NAGPRA be so amended and perhaps remove "Kennewick Man" from scientific purview, perhaps Natives would be happy to tell the scientists that they can examine Patrick Stewart to their heart's content and no Native will complain...
All Best
Russ Bates

dmarks said...

Russell: Make it so.