The significance of the Kennewick man to Native Americans is that they desire to label it as one of their ancient ancestors, and honor it in the customary fashions typical of their people. The significance of the remains to the scientific community,and particularly the archaeological field, is that from the established institutions and their documentation of prehistory, this being should not have even been in this location!
The accepted accounts of mankind and evolution would say that this skeleton, should it be excavated, should come from a European or Asian country, as it bears little resemblance to any native tribal peoples, who we have been taught were the sole occupants of what is now the United States of America, before the arrival of Columbus. To be honest, the film actually angered me. Not the science or any of the researchers beliefs, some of which agreed and slightly differed from my own beliefs (the origins of mankind is a subject I have long sought knowledge about independent of and long before i ever considered participating in this course.
None of that bothered me. What absolutely disgusted me was the blatant disregard of logic and the level of disinterest for the potential advancement of scholastic knowledge about ancient civilizations and human history in general, in favor of standing on ceremony and not bucking a subset of the population’s traditions. The scientists in the film , from my perception anyway, appeared to be at least attempting to approach the subject matter of the skull’s racial origin in as sensitive, tactful, and diplomatic manner as they possibly could.
I am Native American, Cherokee to be exact, and I have pure-blood relatives on both sides of my mom’s family. From that fact, I feel entitled to not have an obligation to mince my words and say bluntly that I believe the tribe featured in the film handled this most fascinating and potentially impactful discovery in a profoundly selfish and dim-witted way… one which not only stands to hinder mankind in general, but ironically, could cripple or at VERY least possibly delay the discovery of their true history and genealogy.
This is assuming they find themselves so inclined to seek such knowledge. That’s not really fair, though, as it wasn’t necessarily the tribe acting as a whole, but rather their representatives, with whom the blame should be placed. I respect and am indeed fascinated by Native American heritage, and I have many, many friends that are varying degrees of Native American. I also am cognizant of the fact that it is not racism when I would make the very same statements and unfavorable remarks regarding an Asian,Caucasian, African, or any other race of human people if they did the same.
The fact is, in my opinion, this PARTICULAR tribe’s representatives acted rashly and in poor taste. Better yet, a small HANDFUL of their tribal leaders made mistakes, not the Umatilla tribesmen in general. On a personal level, I fully believe that I have about as little bias toward any race, sex , religion, etc. , and as such, it galls me to see people claim “racism” because someone wishes to have their right to present ALL of the evidence regarding a topic, and what they are saying simply doesn’t agree with your preconceived notions or status quo.
Please, enlighten me as to how exactly was it a malevolent act of racism for the archaeologists to merely suggest that the remains featured in the documentary were likely not Native American in origin, at least in the classical sense? Does it make you “go back to the drawing board”, so to speak, and have to reevaluate your beliefs about how you and your people came to be? The greatest minds, neither individually nor collectively, know all the answers.
To see a group leverage against the scientific community, saying they have ethical and LEGAL ownership of human remains, remains that genealogically seem to have little or nothing in common with them (yet much with others), is absurd in my opinion. Because based on the evidence, even if they ( the Umatilla, or any other Native Americans) have blood ties to these people from long ago, science seems to favor the notion that it is much less, or much weaker, of a connection than it is to any European or Asian descendant.
Not shown in the film is that as of 2015 it has apparently been “concluded” that Kennewick man has more in common with modern Native Americans than any other race currently existing on the earth. Yet, I personally feel that the previous evidence is so strong and in the case of the Umatilla representatives, damning, that it stands on its own merit, and demands further investigation before such bold statements and conclusions are made.
There are concrete monuments in ancient ruins of certain civilizations, even though we are told that concrete is a relatively “modern” invention. There are entire cities with statues and grand architecture far beneath the sea, yet we’re told that no modern human ever inhabited this area, as it would have been impossible for them to do so, because the area has been under water long before the migration of man to the location, and possibly before man himself (certainly one’s capable of creating such buildings) even existed!
There are carvings and etchings in millenia old stone blocks that the most modern and costly laser technology can not duplicate today found throughout the world, yet we are told that these elaborate engravings were done by primitive people carrying only sticks and stones. Many fossilized remains of humans ranging from 9-18 ft (! ) when standing erect have purportedly been unearthed everywhere from India to statewide.
So here we are, presented with the remains of what appears to be a human skeleton, one that bores little resemblance to your people and their outward appearance, yet strongly favors other groups from distant lands that are currently separated by vast expanses of ocean. Is it such a novel idea and does it beggar belief that we could very well be looking at a non-native representative, and that in spite of your rich and colorful folklore, you are not immune to the same laws as every other modern civilization and culture throughout the planet in that you don’t know every single detail about world you have never had any exposure to…
One that existed thousands and thousands of years ago? With but the few documented facts I gave there, of the millions more, how can anyone be so arrogant and ignorant as to believe such nonsense? How can we ever realistically hope to ever possess all of the knowledge available pertaining exclusively to our existence, let alone those of ancient mankind? And yet, here we are…