Washington governor supports repatriation of Kennewick Man

A reconstruction of the skull of Kennewick Man by a scientist who doesn't believe the remains are Native American. Photo from Wikipedia

Kennewick Man should be returned to his tribal descendants, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) said after genetic tests confirmed a link to present-day Native peoples.

The Colville Tribes, the Nez Perce Tribe, the Umatilla Tribes and the Yakama Nation have been seeking to rebury the remains after they were discovered in 1996. Inslee said they have been waiting too long for justice.

“The latest [DNA] results, having ended many of the questions surrounding the identity of Kennewick Man, means that it is time we respect the tribes’ repeated requests for repatriation,” said in a letter to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The tribes refer to Kennewick Man as Techaminsh Oytpamanatityt. He was discovered on federal land in Washington that was ceded through a treaty with the Umatlla Tribes.

The Army Corps was prepared to repatriate the remains to the tribes but a group of scientists sued. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals eventually ruled that the remains were too old to be covered by the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act.

Tribes asked Congress to amend the law to recognize their connections to ancestors like the Kennewick Man. But a simple two word addition to NAGPRA was opposed by scientific and academic institutions and lawmakers have declined to take up the cause for more than a decade.

Get the Story:
Gov. Inslee: Turn Kennewick Man Over to the Tribes (Indian Country Today 6/25)
Inslee to Corps: Give Kennewick Man to tribes (The Seattle Times 6/24)

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