President Obama has signed a bill that includes a provision that the ancient bones known as Kennewick Man be returned to Indian tribes for reburial.
The bill requires that Kennewick Man be returned to tribes in Washington state within 90 days.
“Our ancestor has been denied his right to a proper burial for twenty years,” said Armand Minthorn, board member for the Umatilla Tribes. “Our efforts will not cease until he returns to his people once and for always. We will rest when he can rest.”
The Kennewick Man remains were discovered in 1996 on federal land near the Columbia River. Experts estimate they are at least 8,400 years old, making the Ancient One among the oldest and most complete skeletons found in North America.
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In 2015, new genetic evidence determined the remains were closer to modern Native Americans than any other population.
The bill transfers the remains from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to the Washington Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation, which will carry out repatriation of the remains to the tribes.