Making Sense of Kennewick Man

Author(s): James Chatters

Year: 2016


For almost 20 years, the >9000 year-old skeleton known as Kennewick Man has been the subject of rumor, media hyperbole, lawsuit, political posturing, and even some good science. Archaeological, osteological, morphometric, stable-isotope, chronometric, and genetic studies have now been completed and reported and more than 50 scholars have presented their findings in internet publications, journals, and books. Widely divergent claims have been made about this man’s heritage and place of origin. He has been variously characterized as an early European who arrived before Native Americans, a wandering Ainu trader who lived on seals, and a direct ancestor of a single member of the Colville Tribe. All of these claims are colored by politics; none is securely founded in scientific fact. This paper will summarize what is known, critically assess what has been reported, and discuss Kennewick Man’s appropriate place in the archaeological and paleoanthropological story of the Americas.

Cite this Record

Making Sense of Kennewick Man. James Chatters. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, Florida. 2016 ( tDAR id: 404133)

Spatial Coverage

min long: -122.168; min lat: 42.131 ; max long: -113.028; max lat: 49.383 ;