Babbitt Wants a Lid on Kennewick Bones

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Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt has determined that the 9,000-year-old remains of Kennewick Man should be turned over to five American Indian tribes in the Columbia River basin area where the skeleton was found (see "Boneheaded About History," Aug. 30, 1999). The tribes want to bury the bones as quickly as possible, closing the investigation into whether Kennewick is a relative of theirs. Scientists say he does not, in fact, appear to be related to ancestors of those tribes, who crossed a land bridge from Siberia to Alaska in ancient times. He may have been Polynesian or Southeast Asian. His features are Caucasian, bearing little resemblance to modern Indians in the neighborhood. Laboratories were unsuccessful in extracting DNA samples from pieces of skeleton.

On background and not for attribution, anthropologists and other scientists have told washington in brief that firm evidence exists showing the Americas as something of a crossroads since ancient times, visited and likely colonized by an array of ethnic groups. They say these views are suppressed by a politically correct elite in academia and elsewhere in the culture who have a stake in painting Europeans as the lone and loathsome recent invaders of ancient homelands belonging to America's "first nations," or Indian tribes. The grounds for righteous indignation and soulful remorse among the elite might become somewhat shaky if it were shown that Asians from Siberia were but one of a variety of visitors and settlers. A whole industry involving everything from textbooks to lands litigation depends on "first-nation" status for Indians. …