DNA Confirms Kennewick Man’s Genetic Ties To Native Americans

Jun 23, 2015

by Christopher Joyce

New genetic evidence suggests that Kennewick Man, an 8,500-year-old skeleton found in Washington state, is related to members of a nearby Native American tribe.

The DNA may help resolve a long-running scientific mystery, while at the same time reigniting a debate over who should have custody of the remains.

Kennewick Man was discovered accidentally in the mud flat along the Columbia River in 1996. He’s caused a ruckus ever since.

Physical anthropologists said his facial features and cranium didn’t look Native American. Researchers suspected he might have come from Asia or Polynesia.

But Native American groups insisted he was their ancestor and deserved a proper burial. The federal government agreed and locked up the skeleton. Scientists then sued to “release” it. And they won. Kennewick Man has been studied since then, and his remains are kept in a museum in Washington.


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7 comments on “DNA Confirms Kennewick Man’s Genetic Ties To Native Americans

  • The Americas were colonized by Sapiens around 12,000-10,000 years ago, so wouldn’t be correct to say that is comes from Asian descent as well as he is an ancestor to the tribes of that region? Either way, I’m glad scientists are putting up a fight when there is so much to be learned from the skeleton. There is always a soft spot to Native Americans because of the treatment they received in the past 400 years, but superstition remains to be superstition and there is no reason to cater to it, especially when this man’s culture is separated by thousands of years and was probably very different from the modern tribes.



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  • Modern tribes I think have no claim.
    Nobody knew him.
    They did not find him.
    They have no use for him other than ceremoniously destroying him like some benign ISIS.
    We have a precedent of ancient skeletons belonging to the finder.
    The greater good of all is to study him.

    I suspect there are a number of equally plausible reconstructions. By changing soft parts, nose shape, hair, beard and colouring you could enhance or reduce his nativeness.

    I expected a discussion of the possibility he was not native, but his people blended. I suppose DNA will sort this out. I wonder if I will still be alive when a strand of DNA is all you need to reconstruct an accurate life-size model.



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  • Didn’t I read an article somewhere that the DNA testing is done and it is determined that he is Native American? I will have to find that article.



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  • With a long narrow head, Kennewick Man looks more European, and maybe the so-called “native” Americans are trying to cover that up. Giving special privileges to so-called “native” Americans is harmful to everybody. On a planet that has more than twice as many people as the planet’s permanent carrying capacity, any remnant of the stone age is dangerously inefficient. Civilization could collapse at any moment.

    The repatriation law stinks. We all had stone age ancestors. I even spent some time studying mine and their myths. I didn’t even for a minute believe those myths. My stone age ancestors are dead and gone. If you want to dig them up and study their bones, fine with me.

    Most of us have or had intermediate age religions that began in the bronze age. Those religions are also part of history, not valid in any way.

    Reference: “The Beginning of Infinity” by David Deutsch.
    We are now in the midst of conversion/growth from a static society to a dynamic society. A static society is almost all previous civilizations. Enlightened legislators would not privilege static society memes in any way because static society memes mean collapse to the stone age and population crash.



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  • any remnant of the stone age is dangerously inefficient. Civilization could collapse at any moment.

    Prompted me to think, that when Homo S Sapiens starts down on the inevitable self inflicted extinction journey, the guys who are going to last longest will be those with the stone age skills. They might even survive as a remnant population, set to repeat the same mistakes again in a few thousand years.



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  • On a planet that has more than twice as many people as the planet’s
    permanent carrying capacity,

    Your population math is incorrect. The world population now is about 7.2 billion, and the carrying capacity is 6.4 billion, providing everyone lives at the lowest level of subsistence. Perhaps you were thinking that we should be around 3.5 billion so everyone could have more than a minimum standard of living.



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  • Don’t get too het up on the figures. The carrying capacity is whatever technology makes it. As time goes on this goes up and as standards of living improve reproductive rates generally fall, so it is quite on the cards that in the future overall population may settle at a lower level. The problem may of course be solved early — the next war could have rather more casualties than has been achieved before, depending on who gets hold of nuclear weapons and where they aim them, but it is not going to take humanity back to the stone age. Knowledge will not be lost, just parked for a while.



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