|A reconstruction of Kennewick Man sculpted to resemble the Ainu people of Japan, considered by some at the time to be his closest living relatives. Now, a link to Native Americans has been confirmed. Brittney Tatchell/Smithsonian Institute|
Last week, there was a big development in the long-running, bitter, complicated battle over a 9,000-year-old set of bones known variously as "Kennewick Man" or "The Ancient One," depending on whom you ask.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers confirmed that the ancient bearer of the bones is genetically linked to modern-day Native Americans. Now, under federal law, a group of tribes that has been fighting to rebury him will almost certainly get to do so.
It also means that scientists will probably never get another chance to study him, though ancient human remains from North America are incredibly rare, and forensic technology gets better all the time.
"It's the chafe between science and spirituality," writes Kevin Taylor at Indian Country Today, "between people who say the remains have so much to tell us about the ancient human past that they should remain available for research, versus people who feel a kinship with the ancient bones and say they should be reburied to show proper reverence for the dead." [...] NPR
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