Yakama intervention denied
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AUGUST 10, 2000

A federal judge last week denied a request by the Yakama Nation of Washington to become involved in a lawsuit involving the remains of Kennewick Man.

Magistrate Judge John Jelderks said the Yakama Nation waited too long to join the lawsuit. He said an intervention would only delay an already long drawn-out lawsuit involving the 9,000-year-old Native man discovered in 1997.

"The Yakama Nation has not provided a satisfactory explanation for the extraordinary delay in moving to intervene, and the motion to intervene simply cannot be characterized as timely," ruled Jelderks.

In 1997, eight scientists who wanted to conduct tests on Kennewick Man sued the federal government for attempting to repatriate the remains. The Yakama Nation were hoping to intervene in order to rebury him.

Although the Umatilla, Nez Perce, Colville, and Wanampus tribes claim Kennewick Man as ancestor and want to rebury Kennewick Man, none of these tribes were part of the Yakama's motion to intervene.

Jelderks also said the lawsuit could proceed without tribal involvement. He said the federal government has consistently advocated tribal interests.

At a hearing before the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs last month, Armand Minthorn, a Umatilla tribal member and Chair of the Native American Grave Protection and Repatriation Act Review (NAGPRA) Committee, criticized the Department of Interior for not consulting with the tribes in the Kennewick Man case.

Researchers and scientists appointed by the Interior are currently completing a suite of tests on the remains in an attempt to determine if he is culturally affiliated to the tribes. Cultural affiliation is a key requirement for repatriation under NAGPRA.

Researchers are having trouble extracting DNA from Kennewick Man. They have until September 1 to compete their tests, on which the Interior has to report by September 26.

Related Stories:
Kennewick won't yield DNA (Indian U. 8/7)
Leaders discuss NAGPRA (Indian U. 7/27)
Repatriation panel supported (Tribal Law 06/12)
Yakama Nation files Kennewick Man suit (Tribal Law 06/01)
Kennewick testing to begin (Indian U 04/24)

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NAGPRA (Tribal Law)

Relevant Links:
Executive Order 13804, Consultation and Coordination with Indian Tribal Governments -
The Deparment of Interior -
The National Park Service, DOI -
American Indian Liasion Office, NPS -