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30 April 2000
Kennewick Man DNA Studies To Begin

A team of scientists will begin long-delayed studies of the Kennewick Man skeleton this week to help determine whether the controversial 9,000-year-old bones can be linked through DNA and other clues to contemporary Indian tribes. The government-appointed team also hopes to learn whether Kennewick Man was intentionally buried at the site where the bones were found in the shallows of the Columbia River (U.S.A.) in 1996.
      "One of the things that makes this remarkable discovery intriguing is that a nearly complete and very ancient human skeleton was found whose exact burial treatment can never be precisely known," Francis McManamon, chief consulting archaeologist for the U.S. Department of Interior, said Friday. Another question scientists hope to answer is what parts from the 380 bones and skeletal fragments may contain enough collagen protein to help derive DNA information.
      Kennewick Man is one of the oldest and most complete skeletons found in North America. Radiocarbon-dating of the bones place their age at between 9,320 and 9,510 years old.
      Five Northwest Indian tribes have claimed Kennewick Man as an ancestor, and want the bones buried without further studies. But eight prominent scientists sued in October 1996 for the right to conduct additional studies. The disposition of the bones has been hotly contested ever since the first anthropologist to examine Kennewick Man claimed the skull bore little resemblance to today's Indian people.
      The new tests are planned to help the Interior Department determine whether Kennewick Man can be linked to any existing tribes.

Source: Associated Press (22 April, 2000)

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