Skull Wars: Kennewick Man, Archaeology, and the Battle for Native American Identity


The 1996 discovery, near Kennewick, Washington, of a 9,000-year-old Caucasoid skeleton brought to a boil long-building tensions between Native Americans and the archeological community. Besides raising profound scientific questions, the explosive controversy and resulting lawsuit over Kennewick Man uncovered deeply held grievances of both sides. Indians felt that archaeologists were systematically taking their history, traditions, and tribal identities away from them and reinterpreting them in the context of Western science.

Archaeologists, seeing remains and artifacts removed from museum for reburial, and their access to new sites closed, feared for the future of their science.

Skull Wars tells, for the first time, the riveting story of archaeologists' relations with American Indians and how they deteriorated with the rise of scientific archaeology.


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