Friends of America's Past

About Us

Our Concerns

The implications for the Kennewick Man case reach far beyond studying the Kennewick Man's skeleton. We are concerned about the power of government agencies to restrict access to information and to ignore sound scientific methodology. The resolution of this case affects scientists' freedom to study other skeletons, other sites, other traces of the past. The larger issue for all of us is the threat to a factual understanding of what actually happened in the past.

We all share the past -- no one owns it. Imagine if a few people could decide by whom, when, and how evidence from the past can be studied. Is this the legacy we want to leave to future generations?

It's happening now. The limited studies of the Kennewick Man skeleton conducted by government-hired scientists in 1999 are unverified by independent scientists. Their work is unreviewed by their peers and far from conclusive. The Department of the Interior has ignored other possible interpretations of the data and important information has not been gathered.

The Secretary of the Interior Babbitt set aside all scientific evidence, and based his September 2000 decision on the claiming tribes oral stories of the past. Scientific access to the skeleton and the discovery site continues to be denied. The Kennewick Man case is the most visible example of arbitrary limits put on our right to learn about America's past. Other ancient evidence has been lost. Without action, there will be more limits, more losses.

The past will be lost unless we

  • defend our right to learn about the heritage of all Americans
  • insist that good scientific methods be practiced, free of political motives
  • bring needed clarity to NAGPRA and other laws that impact the study of the past
  • prevent the loss of valuable scientific information due to biased interpretations of the law
  • keep our country free for exploring and expressing all views and explanations of our past

We invite you to explore the other areas of this web site to read more about these issues.

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