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Controversy regarding Kennewick Man.

The tensions between science and culture extend far beyond disputes over evolution. In some cases, science and culture disagree on not just what is true, but how actions should be taken in the real world. The story of Kennewick Man is a perfect example of this.

In 1996, while two tourists were visiting Kennewick, on the Columbia River in Washington, they stumbled across a human skull. After the police collected the skull and an almost completely intact skeleton, they determined that the bones came from a Caucasian man. But strangely, there was no murder investigation. This is because, in a very strange twist, Carbon-dating tests showed that the bones were more than 9,000 years old - much older than the earliest recorded Caucasian visits to North America in the 14th century.

Anthropologists, paleontologists, biologists and archaeologists all whipped themselves into a fury of excitement over these bones, which were soon given the name "Kennewick Man." Everyone, it seemed, wanted to study these remarkably well-preserved remains. At the same time, the local Umatilla Indians, whose ancestors have lived on the Columbia River for thousands of years, claimed the rights to rebury the remains, under the North American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA). To this ancient tribe, the bones are sacred remnants of their ancestors, and as such, they should be returned to the ground.

Science vs. culture
This very clearly outlines your opinion on the case: Who you think deserves ownership of the remains and why, what should be done with these remains, and what sacrifices will be made when your own solution is implemented.

What other science vs. culture disputes does this conflict remind you of, and why?

Solution Preview

Ownership rights to the remains of Kennewick Man hinge on several issues. These include whose land the remains were found on, whether any reliable ties can be established linking the remains to the Umatilla Indians and what precise benefit these remains would be to the scientific community.

The remains of Kennewick Man were found on federal land that was under the control or stewardship of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Under the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, Native Americans are allowed to claim remains that are found if they can establish that the remains are culturally affiliated with their specific tribal group. Therefore the burden of proof lies with the tribal group to prove cultural affiliation.

There is disagreement within the scientific community regarding the ethnicity of Kennewick Man. ...

Solution Summary

This solution examines the clash between scientists and Native Americans regarding the remains known as Kennewick Man. Over 450 words of original text as well as links for further research and investigation.

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