Friends of America's Past

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A Message from the Board

The Kennewick Man case is not over, it has just begun. After more than four years of government delays, the Court has scheduled a trial for June 19, 2001.

We can still save the 9,300 year old Kennewick Man from joining the Buhl Woman, Hourglass Cave, Minnesota Woman, Browns Valley, Prospect, and all the others who are lost forever. All these First Americans were as old (or nearly so) as the Kennewick Man. They were all repatriated without clearly established cultural affiliation, as the law requires. The fate of Kennewick Man hangs in the balance.

Our nation's long tradition to conduct science free from arbitrary government limits has been set aside. The Department of Justice maintains that scientists have no right to study ancient skeletal remains. The Secretary of the Department of the Interior, Bruce Babbitt declared, despite all evidence to the contrary, the Kennewick Man remains are now culturally affiliated with the claiming tribes. With this one act, the possibility of understanding his story disappears. We must not allow one group, supported by political expediency, to dictate their version of prehistory as they bury the Kennewick Man.

We don't know what the Bush administration's position will be on these issues. It's time to voice your concerns to the new Secretary of the Department of the Interior and the new Attorney General and the Department of Justice. Ask them to reverse the decisions made during the Clinton administration and to let Congress know that review and oversight of NAGPRA is long overdue.

With this lawsuit, the eight scientists will hold accountable those who are responsible for destroying the discovery site, limiting scientific study to a few questions, and refusing to allow independent validation of their conclusions. Funds are needed so they can pursue this lawsuit on sound footing against the formidable resources of the Justice Department. Funds will be used for assembling evidence from expert witnesses, for travel, and for the out-of-pocket expenses of conducting a trial.

Your contribution today supports the legal challenge of unreasonable government-imposed limits on the conduct of science and will ensure that an accurate story of the Kennewick Man can be told. Please step forward to add your name to our growing, impressive list of supporters.

Our thanks,
Cleone Hawkinson, President

For maximum benefit, please consider making a tax-exempt donation in the form of stock or other securities. Please call Paul Pritkin, PIM, (503) 224-7828 ext.12 or toll free (877)-211-0034 ext.12.

Follow this link to our contribution form.

Another way to help:


The Clinton administration's Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt determined that the Kennewick Man's remains should be returned to the five claiming tribes based on their oral traditions and present geographic location. Further, he maintained no more study is necessay - we know all we need to know about this 9,000 year old man. By his own admission, the evidence he used to make this determination ignored the standard "as a scholar would weigh it." He accepted the living memory of a few individuals over clear and convincing scientific evidence to the contrary.

We don't know what the new administration's position will be. Now is the time to make our views known to the new Secretary of the Interior. We are concerned that the public's right to know and understand the past is in serious jeopardy with Babbitt's decision. If the scientific evidence is so easily set aside, the public will have only the government's version of the Kennewick Man's story. A free and open society should have all views available so individuals can evaluate their merits. Government agencies must not be allowed to ignore the public's right to understand the past from many perspectives.

Since the fall of 1996, scientists, their attorneys, and volunteers have worked to keep the Kennewick Man case alive. The National Park Service, the Department of the Interior, the Army Corps of Engineers, and the Department of Justice maintain that anthropologists have no right to study this unique skeleton nor to investigate the discovery site for more clues about his life. Their position is that only they may decide what questions are appropriate to ask, and who will do the research. Further, they expect the public to accept their unverified conclusions. In a free and open society, this is not an appropriate role of government nor the way science should be conducted.

Capitol Hill email addresses:

Issues to address

Voice your concerns to Capitol Hill that the Kennewick Man is a valuable national treasure which must be preserved. His story must be told fully and accurately.

Remind them that NAGPRA provides authority for scientific research in cases where such research "would be of major benefit to the United States." The scientific significance of the unique, ancient remains of Kennewick Man are of interest not only to the people of the United States, but to people worldwide.

Insist they review the definition of Native American. The National Park Service's interpretation of who is a Native American is arbitrary. They say the term includes anyone, regardless of biological heritage, who lived here more than 500 years ago.

Remind them of the clear and convincing evidence of Vikings on the east coast and Asian contact on the west coast more than 500 years ago. Today, only American Indians may make claims under NAGPRA.

Insist that Congress clarify NAGPRA to make it crystal clear that culturally unaffiliated human remains over 500 years old are part of our national heritage, and are not to be given arbitrarily to any claiming group or coalition of groups.

Insist that cultural affiliation be clearly established before the remains are given to any group.

Insist that the Army Corps of Engineers and the National Park Service account for their decision, despite Congressional intent, to destroy the discovery site of the Kennewick Man remains.

Voice your concerns about Recommendations by the NAGPRA Committee to the Department of the Interior for disposal of culturally unidentifable human remains. These recommendations do not include the scientific community or public interest as relevant to the process. They suggest that geographic location is sufficient to establish cultural affiliation.

Help us to preserve the evidence of the past. Express your concerns to Capitol Hill (email addresses). If you receive no response, write again and again until you do. Copy us on your letters, and we'll write in support of your efforts.

Follow this link for our address and contribution form.

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