Plaintiffs' Request for Immediate Response Re Study Request
AFFIDAVIT OF DAVID R. HUNT
Alan L. Schneider, OSB No. 68147
Paula A. Barran, OSB No. 80397
Attorneys for Defendant
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF OREGON
ROBSON BONNICHSEN, et al.,
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
CV No. 96-1481 JE
AFFIDAVIT OF DAVID R. HUNT
I, David Roehm Hunt, being first duly sworn, do depose and state as follows:
1. I am a Museum Specialist at the National Museum of National History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. In that capacity, I am part of the Collections Management Staff of the Department of Anthropology and caretake the human skeletal and non-skeletal collections of the Division of Physical Anthropology.
2. My professional qualifications are as follows: I hold a Ph.D. degree in anthropology which I received from the University of Tennessee in 1989. My studies and research at the University of Tennessee and my undergraduate training at the University of Illinois emphasized human skeletal biology, human variation, hominid evolution and Old World Archaeology. My professional career has been devoted to the study of human skeletal biology, including the range of human skeletal and living tissue variation, pathological conditions, morphometric analyses of the human skeleton, and the taphonomic conditions which affect the human skeleton. I have taught human skeletal biology, human osteology and forensic anthropology as an instructor at the University of Tennessee, as Invited Faculty for the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology and as a Professional Lecturer at George Washington University. I have written or co-authored more than 20 scientific articles on human skeletal biology, human variation and other physical anthropological topics which have been published in refereed professional journals, and I have presented more than 100 papers, posters and lectures at international, national and regional scientific conferences and symposia. Since 1990, I have been part of the National Museum of Natural History, Department of Anthropology forensic investigation team and have been called upon to assist in several national and international mass disaster situations.
3. During the course of my professional employment and studies, I have examined the skeletal remains (either partial or complete) of more than 3000 individuals from anatomical or archaeological collections. These skeletal remains have ranged from Neandertal skeletal remains from the Middle East, to prehistoric and historic African, Asian, European, Mediterranean, North American and South American populations. My work with North American remains has encompassed a wide spacial and temporal depth, ranging from the earliest Prehistoric periods (before 8000 BP) to Archaic and later Prehistoric (8000 BP to 1500 AD) and Historic Native American, Colonial American (White, Black slavery and Freeman Black) and modern American cemetery collections.
4. As a result of my professional activities and studies, I have gained extensive experience with the range of morphological variation in the human skeleton. Understanding this range of variation is critical in the reconstruction of human remains. Many of the skeletal remains that I have examined require reconstruction to some degree to permit proper evaluation. Reconstruction involves the reassembly of fragmented bones into their proper anatomical position in as accurate placement as possible, within the normal parameters of human variation, and with appropriate allowance for any distortions resulting form external conditions. I have reconstructed over 200 crania to various levels of reconstruction over my professional career. The range of my experience in this regard includes one of the first Jamestown Settlement individuals, Civil War battle individuals, Colonial Period and American frontier individuals, and prehistoric skeletal and cranial series from more than 27 different states. I have examined and made reconstructions on the following paleo-period individuals: Browns Valley (approx. 9000 BP); Pelican Rapids (also known as Minnesota Woman (approx. 7900); BP; Wizards Beach (approx. 9200 BP)); the Anzick skeletal collection (approx. 10,500 BP). I have also worked with the Spirit Cave mummy (approx. 9400 BP) and numerous early Archaic individuals (7000 to 3000 BP) including La Jolla, La Brea, Lansing and Braden.
5. Reconstructuring human skeletal remains is a complex process. Human bones are characterized by a wide range of different angles, planes, curves and other shapes produced by genetic and biomechanical influences, and by intricate and often subtle interrelationships between the different skeletal elements. Under certain circumstances, these morphological shapes and relationships can be affected by: (a) natural postmortem causes (taphonomy) such as ground pressure, hygroscopic warpage, water, sun or wind erosion, geo-chemical processes, etc.; (b) culturally induced pre or peri-mortem modifications such as cranial deformation, occupational stressors, etc. The result of these effects may deform the skeleton (especially the cranium) rendering the elements distorted or fractured. If not correctly recognized and addressed, warpage or distortion will interfere with proper anatomical relocation or accurate refitting of fragments. When warpage or distortion is encountered, a decision must be made concerning the viability of reconstruction. If reconstruction is attempted, it must be done in an appropriate manner to permit proper investigation of the remains based upon its normal pre-death morphology.
6. The objective of reconstruction is to restore in a reliable manner a skeleton (or a portion thereof) to a condition that is as close as possible to the original morphology of the living person. An accurate reconstruction is not necessarily a "perfect fit" of bones or bone fragments. A fit of two fragments that seems perfect because the fragments join together smoothly and without movement may not accurately reflect the true morphology of the person during life, but rather the state of the bones after they were altered by any of the above mentioned postmortem processes. Failure to allow for such influences will result in an inaccurate view of what the person was truly like.
7. Reconstruction of fragmented cranial bones can be particularly difficult because of the intricate relationships between the different elements of the cranium. It is not uncommon to encounter reconstructions which have followed the objective of a "perfect fit" and as a result have created a less than accurate morphological reality due to failure to recognize sometimes subtle postmortem warpage or the erosion of bony sutures (or other contact points). In other reconstructions, I have seen the failure to provide allowances for normal cartilage and tendinous space. In one instance, occlusion of the dentition was used to re-align the face to the cranium, but no allowance was made for the cartilage and joint capsule of the temporomandibular joint. Thus the face was mis-aligned dorsally from its natural position. This would place the individual's face more tucked in and more elongated than was present in life. With regards to metric analyses of the cranium, such a maladjustment could cause individuals to be misclassified into an incorrect sub-group when using multivariate analyses techniques.
8. It is my understanding that the Kennewick skeleton is being curated in a fragmented, not a reconstructed, state at the Burke Museum. Consequently, the skeleton will need to be reconstructed before it can be examined. Such a reconstruction should be done by someone other than the prior reconstructers in order to determine the accuracy of the government's reconstruction. Even slight errors in a reconstruction can have a significant effect on skeletal measurements and on the reliability of any inferences drawn from such measurements. For example, the normal range of human variation for nasal breath is only approximately 15 millimeters (i.e., approx. six-tenths of an inch). If a reconstruction distorts the fit or angle of this area by only two or three millimeters, the size and shape of the nose could be significantly distorted. Likewise, improper alignment of the malar (cheek) region or of the maxilla can distort the degree of facial forwardness of the cranium. Such distortions could impact any efforts to determine the population affinities of the skeleton.
9. The results of a reconstruction are inevitably affected by an investigator's level of experience and expertise. As a result, multiple opportunities for reconstruction of important skeletal remains by independent investigators is a standard practice in the scientific community. Many scientists have had the opportunity to reconstruct early hominid fossils from east and south Africa and the early human fossils of Asia and Europe. Through this process of multiple reconstructions, consensus is often reached confirming the accuracy of the initial morphological composition. In other instances, new reconstructions have led to new interpretations in the morphology which have resulted in a re-evaluation of the specimen's relationship to other specimens. Only open debate, re-interpretation and use of new or varied technologies will permit us to achieve a greater and more accurate understanding of human evolution.
10. If the Kennewick Man skeleton is not reconstructed and examined by independent observers, there will always be questions about the validity of the data collected by the government's study team. As noted above, subtle changes to positions of cranial elements can make a distinct difference in the metric values of the finished reconstruction. This is why it is so important to allow multiple investigators to evaluate a specimen so they can derive a consensus concerning the reconstruction of a particular specimen. Hasty and incomplete study of important examples of human history such as the Kennewick skeleton is a disservice to the advancement of scientific and public understanding of the human experience, and is contrary to the true spirit of the repatriation process. A misidentification of lineal relationships can produce a grave error in the proper return of remains. The risk of such errors will be increased in the case of the Kennewick skeleton if independent investigators are not given the opportunity to test the government's cranial reconstruction. Likewise, independent investigators should be allowed to test the government's interpretations of the skeleton's pathological conditions, the type and technology of the projectile point, and the taphonomic analyses of the skeleton.
11. I understand that the preservation state of the skeleton is stable. A new reconstruction would not damage the specimen or cause any permanent change to the state of the bone. The procedures I would use for its reconstruction are reversible so the skeleton can be reverted back to a fragmentary state for re-housing.
12. I implore the court to allow further study of the Kennewick skeleton. Proper understanding of human evolution is important for the advancement of all humankind, and Kennewick Man can provide significant new data for this endeavor.
DATED this 20th day of July, 1999.
SUBSCRIBED and SWORN to before me this 20th day of July, 1999.
Return to Affidavits & Declarations