Editorial: Reject proposed NAGPRA regulation

"Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne should reject a proposal that would foreclose the ability of scientists to shed light on American prehistory.

Proposed new rules likely would preclude the examination of remains such as the 9,300-year-old Kennewick Man, found on federal land along the Columbia River in 1996. Tribes no longer would have to prove a connection to the remains beyond the coincidence the remains were found on their ancestral lands, despite prolific evidence of the widespread migration of early people. The new rules clearly attempt to subvert the 2002 federal court ruling that unequivocally gave prominent scientists the right to study the remains and rejected faith-based claims of Columbia Basin tribes that Kennewick Man was their direct ancestor.

When the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers decided to turn over to tribes the Kennewick Man remains — now stored at the University of Washington's Burke Museum — prominent scientists sued and eventually won the right to study them. Results of their efforts are expected by 2009.

Science organizations that participated in the 1990 Native American Graves and Repatriation Act, which was intended to balance the interests of tribes, scientists and museums, are denouncing the new proposal."

Get the Story:
Editorial: Shed a light on history (The Seattle Times 1/18)

Federal Register Notice:
Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act Regulations--Disposition of Culturally Unidentifiable Human Remains (October 16, 2007)

A bill to amend certain laws relating to Native Americans to make technical corrections, and for other purposes (S.2087)

Kennewick Man Decision:
BONNICHSEN v. US (February 4, 2004)

Relevant Links:
National NAGPRA - http://www.cr.nps.gov/nagpra

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