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Since the 2004 decision, scientists have studied the remains extensively and learned much about this man.
Members of the five tribes have also been allowed access to the remains for spiritual ceremonies.
(Credit: USDA/Flickr) Depending on who you talk to, Kennewick Man is either among the most important archaeological finds in North American history, or the desecrated body of a distant forebear known as “The Ancient One.” Kennewick Man’s remains have fueled a nearly two-decade-long showdown between science and cultural rights, and now those tensions are at the forefront once again.
On Thursday, archaeologists who sequenced Kennewick Man’s genome announced that he is more closely related to modern Native Americans than any other population on the planet.
The fossil record paints a thin picture of early terrestrial life.
Useful diagnostic features are rare in the organic-walled fossils of the first land colonizers, and at first glance the Silurian–Devonian ) demonstrate simple septal perforations and a bilayered cell wall; threads of entwined filaments, bounded by an elaborately sculptured surface, arose via the retrograde growth and subsequent proliferation of secondary branches.
Eske Willerslev and his team found that Kennewick Man’s genome most closely resembles that of modern Native American tribes, namely the Colville – the only tribe of the five that submitted DNA to be studied.“I just hope that these findings will satisfy the curiosities of folks enough that they will no longer interfere with our cultural practices, and allow us to freely exercise our religion as the United States Constitution guarantees,” Boyd said.For such a delicate negotiation between scientific progress and cultural rights, it seems likely there are many chapters yet to unfold in the story of Kennewick Man.“It’s very clear that the genome sequence shows that he is most closely related to contemporary Native Americans,” Willerslev said. “Our oral traditions have time and time again been doubted by science, only to be proven true at a later date.” In an ironic twist, the 8-year court battle provided plenty of time for genetic sequencing technology to advance behind the scenes.The technique used to sequence Kennewick Man’s highly degraded DNA is only about five years old.
Boaters stumbled upon Kennewick Man’s remains by accident in 1996 during a race along the Columbia River in Washington State.