Kennewick Man

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Cheerful looking chappy, ain't he?
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but yesterday is

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Kennewick Man was the title given to the remains of a prehistoric man found in Kennewick, Washington in July 1996. The finding caused a dispute between the American Indian tribes of the Northwest, who claimed immediate burial rights under the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, and scientists who wanted to study the remains. Based on initial reports that the remains possibly had Caucasian features, the finding of Kennewick Man also started a round of pseudoarcheological speculation. Mormon apologists believed Kennewick Man could be one of the "Lamanites" or "Jaredites" (ancient inhabitants of the Americas referred to in the Book of Mormon), and a neopagan Asatru sect believed he could be an ancient Viking explorer having come to the Americas — both groups attempting to use the finding to back up their pre-existing religious beliefs. Pseudoscientific and religious speculation aside, the finding of Kennewick Man has contributed to a scientific debate which continues about the origin and diversity of native American peoples.


Kennewick Man's initial ethnic affiliation was identified by anthropologists as being more closely related to the Polynesians or the Ainu of Japan rather than today's Native Americans. This led to a prolonged court battle and controversy over whom his remains ultimately belonged to, with Kennewick Man being cited as evidence that Native Americans weren't the first settlers in America. However, recent genetic testing places Kennewick Man's ancestry with that of Native Americans rather than that of Polynesians,[1] leading to NAGPRA being invoked and his remains being returned to the Native tribes still found in the area today,[2] who also were most closely genetically affiliated with the DNA found in his remains.[3]