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

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

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

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

Synopsis

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.

Excerpt

We have too much information today. We are saturated by isolated facts for which we have great difficulty finding any familiar context. Indeed, "publication" no longer means acceptance by a prestigious journal. It can often mean simply posting an item on the Internet or talking with a reporter. We have come to believe that what is new is true, and so almost anyone can represent anything by merely appearing as a public figure in a discussion. How then can we make sense of what we think we know? One pseudo-fact can become the pivotal point in a controversy no one understands. Nowhere is this condition more endemic than the social sciences, but geology and archaeology contribute more than their share of confusion.

The social sciences badly need to take a break, collect their thoughts, begin to produce reliable histories of their respective disciplines, and clearly articulate their fundamental doctrines so that we can see the various trees of thought that represent the forests in which we labor. At present only people trained in the various social sciences have any idea where they began, where they have traveled, and where they are now. Lay people have not the slightest notion where social science doctrines and ideas originate. Nor do they know what are "acceptable" beliefs to which a majority of any discipline . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.