Controversial Findings

Sample essay topic, essay writing: Controversial Findings - 749 words

On July 28, 1996 a human skull was found along the banks of the Columbia River at Kennewick, Washington. This skull would lead to the discovery of a complete skeleton with characteristics of a Caucasian male. The significance of this discovery is that it's dated to between 9,300 and 9,600 years ago, making it one of the earliest skeletons found in the United States and the second oldest found in Washington. With this great archeological find controversy was soon to follow. The skeleton was found on a portion of the Colombian River maintained by the United Sates Marine Corps of Engineers, but also part of the traditional home of the Umatilla tribe.

According to federal law these remains must be returned to the Umatilla people, but things weren't that easily solved. In fact, the controversy is still pending to this very day. On Thursday, January 13, 2000 it was announced that studies of the Kennewick Man were complete and dated to 9,320 and 9,510 years old, making it Native American therefore making it subject to the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) which refers to defining the term Native American, and who remains found to be Native American should belong to. In a letter to the Corps of Engineers the National Park Service said that the remains would be subject to NAGPRA, thus giving the remains to the tribe indigenous to the Kennewick Man. The problem is finding the modern day tribe that is the direct descendant of the Kennewick Man

At the present time there are five tribes claiming the Kennewick man to be their ancestor, the Umatilla, Colville, Wanapum, Nez Perce, and Yakama. The next step in this case was to scientifically find who the actual descendants of the Kennewick Man were. To do this the remains were sent to the Burke Museum of Natural History in Seattle. To find the true descendants DNA tests and radiocarbon dating must be done on the remains, the problem is these test require a small amount of destruction to be done on the remains but this could not be done until legal issues are resolved between the five competing tribes. Nondestructive examination had been done on the remains but could not be released to the public until these same legal matters were cleared up between the tribes.

Once these legalities were cleared the Department of the Interior (DOI) released the Kennewick Man remains were subject to NAGPRA making him Native American. However, a physical anthropologist working on the case stated that the skeleton resembled a South Asian or an Ainu of the northern islands of Japan. A ruling on September 6, 2000 stated throughout a seventy-three-page document that the destruction of the discovery site violated the National Historic Preservation Act and therefore, the Kennewick man was to belong all five tribes and have a 'joint custody," solving nothing.5 So the question still remains, whom does the Kennewick man belong to? What if the bones don't belong to any of the tribes? Unless the scientists are allowed to research the bones properly, nobody will ever know to whom the skeleton truly belongs. To put an end to this ongoing dispute, scientists must be allowed to to continue their studies on the Kennewick Man. Supported by Doug Owsley, head of the physical anthropology division at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History, the skeleton is 90% in tact, making it a perfect specimen for radiocarbon dating and DNA testing. All the tribes could have the peace of mind knowing if the Kennewick Man truly belonged to them or not. Even then, as long as there are attorneys for any of these five tribes working on this case there will never be an official descendant. Based on reviewed information, these legal issues will continue on for several years to come until a find very similar to the Kennewick Man is found and/or higher power in the government will step in and let scientists to the appropriate tests on the remains to find the true identity of the Kennewick Man.

Though the case of the Kennewick Man has two very distinct points of view, both parties can and will benefit in the end. How so you might ask? If the scientist are allowed to properly place the skeleton, the tribes will then have the piece of mind and maybe, should they fancy, reclaim their ancestor and give him a proper burial. By allowing the scientists to continue, both parties will "win" the dispute. The idea of Compromise, what a beautiful thing!.

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