A Demand for the Kennewick Man's Remains

Jim Bowery (jabowery@netcom.com)
Fri, 15 Nov 1996 20:07:18 GMT

On October 15, 1996 I sent the attached demand for the remains of the
"Kennewick Man" to Lt. Col. Donald R. Curtis Jr., Commander of the U.S.
Army Corps of Engineers, Walla Walla, WA. His office responded with a
form letter designed for those who demanded the remains under the Native
American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act. Such NAGPRA demands
were, according to the public notice published in the Tri-City Herald, to be
sent to Lee Turner, Executive Assistant to the Commander.

I did not send my demand to Lee Turner because I am not demanding the
remains under NAGPRA. My position is that the Commander, himself, acted
inappropriately when he invoked the provisions of NAGPRA in this case.
Therefore, as he was the person responsible for this error, and the one
with the authority to correct it, he (or his office) should respond to my

He did not, nor did anyone in his office.

My argument against the invocation of NAGPRA is based on the obvious fact
that with remains of such antiquity it is all but impossible to establish
NAGPRA's invoking requirements of "lineal descent" and/or "cultural
affinity". I stand by this argument and await a genuine response from
the Commander, his office and/or his superiors.

The text of my letter of demand follows:
Lt. Col. Donald R. Curtis Jr.
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
201 N. 3rd. Avenue
Walla Walla, Washington 99362-1876


I hereby demand the remains of the "Kennewick Man" based on my belief
that I am more closely related to him than any other claimant to come
forward. The ancient tradition and common law practice of providing
human remains to the next-of-kin is, in fact, the spirit behind the
enactment of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act,
25 U.S.C. 3005(a). That I am the closest living relative to claim the
remains is demonstrable using standard legal and scientific procedures
that measure degree-of-relatedness.

According to its discoverer, James C. Chatters, a forensics
anthropologist, the DNA information available from this man's remains may
be sufficient to provide the required accuracy for the
degree-of-relatedness measure under these unusual circumstances. If so,
it is only fair to those who desire custody of his remains to determine
which of them are best thought of as his next-of-kin. The lineal descent
and cultural affinity of this man are all but impossible to determine,
but the his degree of relatedness to living kin is not.

I will, of course, submit to the standard, legally recognized procedures
to measure my degree-of-relatedness involving polymerase chain reaction
and restriction enzyme technologies to prove that my
degree-of-relatedness to this man is greater than that of any other
potential claimant who submits to a similar test of their claim.

My primary desire is that those who are most closely related to this man
receive his remains to dispose of them as they wish. My ancestry is
almost entirely pre-Revolutionary War pioneers with some possible Native
American ancestry. My belief that I am a closer relative to him than any
other claimant motivates me to make this claim myself. If I am incorrect
in that belief, I will be happy to see those most closely related to him
take custody of his remains to dispose of as their traditions require.


James Allen Bowery

The promotion of politics exterminates apolitical genes in the population.
The promotion of frontiers gives apolitical genes a route to survival.
Change the tools and you change the rules.