SPEAKING OF ORAL TRADITION
THE KENNEWICK CONTROVERSY highlights yet another serious conflict in interpreting the NAGPRA criteria of "a preponderance of the evidence." Many archaeologists today feel that based on a preliminary assessment of the biological, archaeological, and linguistic evidence, Kennewick Man cannot be associated with any living group--including the Umatilla. They believe that the best evidence relates the bones to humanity at large rather than any specific tribe.
But Armand Minthorn of the Umatilla tribe says that if Kennewick Man "is truly over 9,000 years old, that only substantiates our belief that he is Native American. From our oral histories, we know that our people have been part of this land since the beginning of time. . . . Some scientists say that if this individual is not studied further we, as Indians, will be destroying evidence of our own history. We already know our history. It is passed on to us through our elders and through our religious practices." To Minthorn, a "preponderance of evidence" would include the widespread oral traditions