Affidavits Address Oral Tradition and Cultural Affiliation
Affidavit of Harold K. Lindsay
I, Harold K. Lindsay, having been duly sworn, do depose and state as follows
1. I am 65 years old, and semi-retired. I reside in Hollywood, California.
2. I am a direct descendant of Old Chief Joseph of the Wallowa (or non-treaty) Nez Perce. They are called the non-treaty Nez Perce because, unlike other tribes, they never signed a treaty with the United States government giving up their right to live on their ancestral lands in the Wallowa Valley of Oregon. When war with the government came in 1877, they attempted to flee to Canada. After a 1700 mile campaign and more than a dozen battles with Army soldiers, they eventually surrendered in northern Montana approximately 40 miles from the Canadian border.
3. Old Chief Joseph was the son of a Umatilla chief called Allokut and his Nez Perce wife. One of Old Chief Joseph's sons (and my great, great uncle) was Young Chief Joseph who led the Nez Perce in their epic campaign to avoid removal to a government reservation. It was Young Chief Joseph who uttered the famous statement "I will fight no more forever" when he and the rest of his people were eventually forced to surrender to government soldiers.
4. I am descended from Old Chief Joseph through his daughter (and my great grandmother) Julie Whitewolf who was born at the Whitman Mission, Washington in 1854. She died in 1944 and is buried in Tonesket, Washington. It is reported that Julia Dent Grant, the wife of future U.S. President Ulysses S. Grant, was the namesake of my great grandmother. I remember my great grandmother from family visits when I was a child. She was an exceptional person. I am proud to be her descendant and a descendant of her people.
5. I do not agree with those individuals who say that the Kennewick Man skeleton should not be studied by scientists. The people who say that do not represent my views, and they do not have the right to speak for me. We cannot know who Kennewick Man was and what part he played in the human past unless scientists are allowed to study his skeleton and discovery site. If Kennewick Man is related to modern Indians, he is a part of my heritage and I want to learn more about him. I respect the right of other people to choose not to learn about their heritage if that is their wish. By the same token, however, they should respect my right to learn more about my heritage if that is my wish (and it is).
6. I do not believe that my great grandmother would have been opposed to study of the Kennewick Man skeleton. I never heard her or any of the other older tribal members express any beliefs that all old human bones were sacred or that they should be buried immediately upon discovery. My great grandmother and her generation accepted the fact that we all must die, and they did not dwell on it. Their concerns were not with the dead, but with the living - on the caring for their loved ones, on being kind and compassionate, and on sharing what they knew. They were proud of their heritage, and they wanted others (both Indians and non-Indians) to know about it.
7. My great grandmother grew up at a time when Indians still owned most of the Intermountain Northwest. She remembered what it was like to live the traditional ways before white settlers had fenced everything in. Until she died, she retained many of the old traditional beliefs, attitudes and ways of doing things. At the same time, however, she and the other survivors of her generation were realists. They knew that while change might be difficult, it could not be prevented. They also knew that change could be good. They were prepared to accept new things that could improve their lives and the lives of other Indians.
8. I think it would be a great loss to all people if the remains of Kennewick Man were to be reburied without complete scientific study. There is much that can be learned from study of his skeleton, and what is learned could benefit us in many ways. For example, diabetes and arthritis are serious problems for modern Native Americans. Study of Kennewick Man might provide information that could help to overcome these or other health problems. And even if it doesn't, the skeleton should still be studied. Anything we can learn about the past is too precious to lose.
9. I do not think it is disrespectful to study ancient skeletons like Kennewick Man. To study something is to acknowledge that it is important and that we should be humble enough to try to learn from it. To refuse to learn what we can from Kennewick Man is the same as saying that he and his people did not matter, and that they should be forgotten. In my opinion, that is a form of disrespect.
10. I want only what is the best for all Americans, both Indians and non-Indians. As we enter a new century, we will need all of the knowledge, understanding and compassion we can muster. Scientific study of the past will help us to face the new challenges that will confront humankind. We must learn from the past, but look to the future. The past is a nice place to visit, but we cannot live there.
Harold K. Lindsay
Return to Affidavits & Declarations