Kennewick Man Case: Scientific Studies and Legal Issues

Part of the Archaeology of Kennewick Man project

Author(s): Francis McManamon

Year: 2014


The human skeletal remains referred to as the "Kennewick Man" or the "Ancient One", were found in July 1996 below the surface of Lake Wallula, a section of the Columbia River pooled behind McNary Dam in Kennewick, Washington. The discovery was made by a pair of college students wading in the shallow water along the southern lake bank.

Most commentators and reporters described the legal controversy that developed and swirled around the Kennewick remains in rather super-heated rhetoric pitting the interests of “science” against those of traditional Native Americans. This characterization ignores the detailed, intensive, and wide-ranging scientific investigation of the Kennewick remains undertaken to determine the facts relevant to the questions in the case and report them. News reports inaccurately suggested that scientific study of the Kennewick remains was not occurred, or that studies were hidden from the American public. In fact, this is quite untrue. A number of studies were conducted and reported widely. These studies have been easily and publically accessible since shortly after their completion.

Opinions differ on the interpretation of evidence and the law in the complex and unusual case of the Kennewick Man. This case has been surrounded with controversy from the very beginning. Whether one agrees or disagrees with the various decisions and positions as this case works its way through the federal court system, the thoroughness and objectivity of the government scientific investigations, the expertise of the investigating scientists, and the value of the information obtained should not be ignored.

Cite this Record

Kennewick Man Case: Scientific Studies and Legal Issues. Francis McManamon. In Encyclopedia of Global Archaeology. Pp. 4263-4272. New York, NY: Springer Science and Buisness Media. 2014 ( tDAR id: 398719) ; doi:10.6067/XCV89C6ZQW

Spatial Coverage

min long: -119.165; min lat: 46.213 ; max long: -119.128; max lat: 46.231 ;

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