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It was two decades ago when two college students, who had little else in mind except meeting girls and drinking beer, found what they thought was a rock, but ultimately turned out to be a human skull. That skull discovered in the Columbia River in Washington state was eventually found to be about 9,000 years old, and was soon found to belong to a skeleton of the so-called Kennewick Man, after the Washington town near the site of the amazing find. And now, it’s finally getting the burial it so deserved.
On Wednesday, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers finally agreed with what Native Americans had long been trying to tell them – Kennewick Man was indeed related to Native American tribes from the Pacific Northwest. And with that debate settled after 20 years, tribe officials have decided to “collectively do what is right, and bring our relative back for (a traditional) reburial.”
Anthropologists had gone as far as taking legal action to study Kennewick Man, despite protests from Native Americans, who wanted the near-complete skeleton to get a traditional reburial. And while it did take two decades for the stalemate to be decided, scientists did conclusively determine that the skeleton did belong to a Native American ancestor, based on DNA comparisons with saliva samples from Colville Tribe members.
For now, the only remaining question is how exactly Kennewick Man will be reburied. “We’re looking through our options and discussing it with the other tribes involved to determine how best to get repatriation done,” said Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation spokesman Chuck Sams, speaking to the Christian Science Monitor.