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Harjo: Scientists study Ancient One but learn nothing

"Time magazine and Kennewick scientists have turned the image of the Ancient One into a freak show worthy of P.T. Barnum at his sucker-born-every-minute best: ''Kennewick Man - The Greatest Show Unearthed.''

Time reports breathlessly that Kennewick case plaintiff and Smithsonian anthropologist Douglas Owsley and his team have been ''able to nail down or make strong guesses about Kennewick Man's physical attributes'' and that the findings are ''clearly worth the wait.''

Time's list of findings is of all things that have been known since he was first studied in the late 1990s: his approximate height (5 feet 9 inches), that he was muscular and that he was wounded. The only ''new finding'' is Owsley's guess that the Ancient One might have been as young as 38, rather than an earlier guess that he was 45 to 55 years old.

The story touts as the Owsley researchers' ''most remarkable discovery'' the one that ''Kennewick Man had been buried deliberately.'' But that finding is not new and it is not Owsley's.

It was reported in 1999 by National Park Service archaeologist Frank P. McManamon that a scientific team of more than a dozen members, which did not include Owsley or his researchers, concluded in studies conducted between Feb. 25 and March 1 of that year that the Ancient One was intentionally buried.

The fiction that there's something new here is no doubt prominent in proposals for more federal dollars for more invasive research."

Get the Story:
Suzan Shown Harjo: 'Kennewick Man - The Greatest Show Unearthed' (Indian Country Today 3/17)

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