New Discoveries About Kennewick Man Origins - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

New Discoveries About Kennewick Man Origins

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PRIEST RAPIDS, Wash. -- It was one of the most significant archaeological discoveries made in North America, but now 16-years later, independent scientists say many things we know about Kennewick Man are simply not true.

The skull and skeletal remains of Kennewick Man were found along the shoreline at Columbia Park in 1996. Since then, there have been years of court battles on whether the 9,000 year old remains should be studied or laid to rest with a proper Indian Burial.

Dr. Doug Owsley, an archeologist from the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History and a team of 14 others managed to study the remains in 2005 and 2006 for two weeks.

Tuesday, Owsley shared their findings with Columbia Plateau Tribal leaders and Wednesday with a large group at the Wanapum Dam Heritage Center near Mattawa.

Owsley says Kennewick Man is not from the Columbia valley, but the Coast, based on his diet, which shows up in bone isotopes. Owsley says the diets show Kennewick Man hunted marine mammals, high in fat and salmon alone would not show those results.

Owlsley says the group thinks he ate seal which do not live in the Columbia Valley. But Rex Buck Jr, the leader of the Wanapum tribe says there could be many explanations for this.

He says many Native people ate Pacific Lamprey, a high fat eel that's now extinct. He also says his people know how to find glacier water, which is what showed up in his isotopes as well. He says the Bonneville Dam wouldn't allow seals to come this way, but it wasn't always that way.

Dr, Owsley also says the scientists studied the bone structure and determined Kennewick man is Asian, likely of Polynesian decent and is very different from the contemporary natives in the Columbia Valley. "you have people coming in, not just across the Bering land bridge, but coming in across probably by boats along the pack ice. That's some of those first people. That's what his roots are," say Owsley.

Columbia Plateau Tribal leaders still want those remains to be considered sacred and given a proper burial. Owsley is hoping to conduct more studies with newer technology. The remains are owned by the US Army Corps of Engineers. They are at the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture in Seattle.

 
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