Re: A Demand for the Kennewick Man's Remains

Jim Bowery (
Mon, 25 Nov 1996 09:47:39 GMT

Apparently, I must emphasize two things about my demand:

1) My claim that "cultural affinity" is all but impossible to determine
allows for the class of hypotheses that involve temporary occupation of a
territory by a culture which is subsequently displaced or so completely
assimilated that their geographically remote cousins preserve greater
cultural affinity.

2) My claim that "lineal descent" is all but impossible to demonstrate is
due to the greater constraints on DNA patterns created by the demand for
"lineal descent" (as compared with degree-of-relatedness) combined with
the antiquity of the remains. This makes meeting those constraints with
legal certainty unlikely compared to the likelihood of establishing simple

As to the "reasonableness" of the hypothesis that an ancient ethnocide or
genocide caused a displacement of this man's kin and culture to the point
that that I am more closely related to this man than other claimants under

There are ample precedents s of this sort of thing in history including not
only "caucasians" (whatever that word is supposed to mean) such as the
Aryans, Tarim Basin people and mainland Japan Ainu who may have closer
living kin and/or cultural affinity with peoples geographically separated
from their remains, but also the people we presently refer to as Native
Americans. The process has been occuring within living memory and even as
we speak, especially those who were displaced to far-flung reservations.

Imagine, for a moment, a morally outrageous situation in which a future
descendant of Colonel Custer's kin, having caused all memory of Native
Americans to be lost, claims the exposed skeletons of some Native
Americans. My stance disallows that moral outrage from occuring in this
situation. The stance of NAGPRA claimants does not prevent such an outrage.

Please understand, it is not my purpose here to assert a claim based on
"race" (whatever that means), but on degree-of-relatedness, which has a
clear scientific/legal definition -- and I am happy to lose my claim to
those who are more closely related by this operational metric. Nor am I
asserting with certainty that a displacement of my distant kin did in
fact, occur during the Cascade period. I merely assert that it is
reasonable to hypothesize that it COULD HAVE occured given the antiquity
and unusual character of the remains and the known precedents for such

Those who wish to assert that "cultural affinity" or "lineal descent" is
demonstrated by the physical location of the remains have put forth no
convincing arguments that the hypothesis I put forth above is a priori
false -- something they must do to make such an assertion legally operative.

They must either accept the burden of proof to a reasonable legal certainty,
abandon the spirit of NAGPRA in this case or grant me my test.

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.