A Skeleton in the Legal Closet: The Discovery of "Kennewick Man" Crystalizes the Debate Over Federal Law Governing Disposal of Ancient Human Remains

32 Pages Posted: 3 Aug 2006

See all articles by Michael J. Kelly

Michael J. Kelly

Creighton University School of Law; American Bar Association, Business Law Section; American Society of International Law

Abstract

When a 9,000 year-old Causasoid skeleton dubbed "Kennewick Man" was discovered in the Pacific Northwest in 1996, scientists began to research why such a person was in that geographic area when people of that morphology were not supposed to be present yet. Native American tribes claimed ownership of the remains under the Native American Graves and Repatration Act (NAGPRA) through the Department of Interior and sought to obtain and rebury the discovery. This article considers the divergent perspectives brought to bear on disposal of such unique ancient human remains and the litigation it has spawned in what has become a philosophical tug-of-war between those who want to advance science and those who want to recapture a lost history.

Keywords: Kennewick Man, NAGPRA, Bonnichsen, Army Corps of Engineers, Native American, Umatilla, Chatters, McCain, Pheonix Dialogue, American Indian

Suggested Citation

Kelly, Michael J., A Skeleton in the Legal Closet: The Discovery of "Kennewick Man" Crystalizes the Debate Over Federal Law Governing Disposal of Ancient Human Remains. University of Hawaii Law Review, Vol. 21, 1999. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=920904

Michael J. Kelly (Contact Author)

Creighton University School of Law ( email )

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HOME PAGE: http://www.creighton.edu/law/faculty/kelly/index.php

American Bar Association, Business Law Section ( email )

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Chicago, IL 60610
United States

American Society of International Law

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Washington, DC 20008
United States
202-939-6000 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.asil.org/

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