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FW: [EthnoHist] Digest Number 163

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  • Popplestone, Ann
    ... From: Alfred M. Lee [mailto:leeam@juno.com] Sent: Monday, September 02, 2002 8:50 AM To: mlewine@core.com; Lewine, Mark; Popplestone, Ann Subject: Fw:
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 3, 2002
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      -----Original Message-----
      From: Alfred M. Lee [mailto:leeam@...]
      Sent: Monday, September 02, 2002 8:50 AM
      To: mlewine@...; Lewine, Mark; Popplestone, Ann
      Subject: Fw: [EthnoHist] Digest Number 163


      Judge Rules Scientists May Study Kennewick Man Skeleton

      September 1, 2002
      By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

      PORTLAND, Ore., Aug. 30 (AP) - A federal magistrate judge
      has ordered the government to let scientists study the
      bones of Kennewick Man, an ancient skeleton discovered on
      the banks of the Columbia River. Scientists say the bones
      could offer clues about the earliest Americans.

      The ruling by the judge, John Jelderks, on Friday rejected
      a decision by Bruce Babbitt, the interior secretary then,
      to give the remains to Indian tribes for reburial.

      Magistrate Jelderks criticized the way the Interior
      Department and the Army Corps of Engineers had handled the
      case.

      The government had "failed to consider all the relevant
      factors, had acted before it had all of the evidence, had
      failed to fully consider legal questions, had assumed facts
      that proved to be erroneous, had failed to articulate a
      satisfactory explanation for its action, had followed a
      `flawed' procedure, and had prematurely decided the issue,"
      Magistrate Jelderks wrote.

      After reviewing 20,000 pages of documents filed in the case
      in six years, Magistrate Jelderks wrote, "nothing I have
      found in a careful examination of the administrative
      record" supported the government.

      "Allowing study is fully consistent with applicable
      statutes," he wrote.

      Dana Perino, a spokeswoman for the Justice Department, said
      government lawyers would review the ruling before
      commenting.

      The scientists said they were happy with the ruling but
      emphasized it was a legal battle against the government
      interpretation of the law, not tribal tradition.

      "I'm sure Native Americans see it differently, but this
      suit was against the government, not the Indian tribes,"
      said one, Richard L. Jantz, an anthropologist at the
      University of Tennessee in Knoxville.

      Alan Schneider, a Portland lawyer who represented the
      scientists, said Magistrate Jelderks sided with the
      scientists "on nearly all major issues."

      The ruling should set a national precedent for
      archaeological discoveries, and the scientists will take
      the case "all the way to the Supreme Court" if the
      government appeals, Mr. Schneider said.

      Allowing scientific study of the skeleton will benefit
      everyone, including Indians, by offering clues to early
      migration and culture, said Robson Bonnichsen, former
      director of the Center for the Study of the First Americans
      at Oregon State University in Corvallis.

      Shortly after the skeleton was found in July 1996 near
      Kennewick, Wash., Dr. Bonnichsen, Dr. Jantz and six other
      scientists went to federal court to prevent the Corps of
      Engineers from giving the bones to the tribes. The
      scientists said that a nearly intact ancient skeleton was
      extremely rare and that initial analysis indicated the
      bones differed from those of modern Indians.

      But Mr. Babbitt backed the Corps of Engineers, which
      manages Columbia River navigation, saying the remains were
      "culturally affiliated" with Northwest tribes.

      Mr. Babbitt acted under the Native American Graves
      Protection and Repatriation Act of 1990, a law intended to
      prevent the theft and sale of Indian artifacts, to protect
      tribal burial sites and to restore the remains of ancestors
      to the tribes.

      The law requires federal agencies or museums to return
      remains and relics to tribes that can "show cultural
      affiliation" based on "geographical, kinship, biological,
      archaeological, anthropological, linguistic, folkloric,
      oral traditional, historical, or other relevant information
      or expert opinion."

      The scientists, however, argued that no group can establish
      a direct link that extends back 9,000 years.

      "Babbitt said oral tradition trumped everything else," Dr.
      Jantz said.

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