The U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation Wednesday to return the ancient bones of Kennewick Man to a coalition of Columbia Basin tribes.
The Senate passed similar legislation earlier this month after it was introduced by Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash.
“Twenty years after the discovery of the Kennewick Man on the banks of the Columbia River, it is finally time to repatriate the human remains,” said Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-Wash., in a statement.
He introduced an amendment with Rep. Denny Heck, D-Wash., to the Water Resources Development Act. Reps. Derek Kilmer, D-Wash., and Greg Walden, R-Ore., also were cosponsors.
The House and Senate versions of the Water Resources Development Act next must be reconciled and then both bodies must vote on a conference report before the legislation can be sent to the president.
In June, new genetic evidence determined that the 8,400-year-old remains of Kennewick Man were more closely related to modern Native Americans than any other living group.
The DNA had been compared to the Confederated Tribes of the Colville reservation, which are closely associated with other Northwest tribes and bands, including the Yakamas, the Umatillas, the Wanapums and the Nez Perce.
The bones now are in the custody of the Army Corps of Engineers and are stored at the University of Washington’s Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture.