Thursday, August 10, 2006

Bill would allow study of ancient remains
A federal law governing protection of American Indian graves would be amended to allow scientific study of ancient remains discovered on federal lands if the remains have not been tied to a current tribe, under a bill proposed by Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash.

The bill marks the latest step in a dispute sparked by the 1996 discovery of Kennewick Man, one of the oldest and most complete skeletons ever found in North America.

Indian tribes and researchers battled over rights to the 9,300-year-old remains for nine years before a federal court sided with the scientists, allowing them to study the bones.

This may or may not be anything relevant. Susan Bruning has an article in this quarter's American Antiquity analyzing NAGPRA with respect to the issues brought up in the Kennewick case. It seems to be a response to the "or was" rewording from last year that, critics argued, would allow repatriation even if remains can't be tied to a particular tribe (I have argued otherwise elsewhere). Scientific study is allowed in some cases even when a tribal affiliation has been demonstrated, although generally only when the study has a definite end point. I'll be extracting some of that article for your perusal later.