Skull wars : Kennewick Man, archaeology, and the battle for Native American identity

by David Hurst Thomas

Book, 2000



Call number

E77 .T54


Publisher Unknown


The 1996 discovery, near Kennewick, Washington, of a 9,000-year-old Caucasoid skeleton brought more to the surface than bones. The explosive controversy and resulting lawsuit also raised a far more fundamental question: Who owns history? Many Indians see archeologists as desecrators of tribal rites and traditions; archeologists see their livelihoods and science threatened by the 1990 Federal reparation law, which gives tribes control over remains in their traditional territories.In this new work, Thomas charts the riveting story of this lawsuit, the archeologists’ deteriorating relations with American Indians, and the rise of scientific archeology. His telling of the tale gains extra credence from his own reputation as a leader in building cooperation between the two sides.… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member RavenousReaders
In July 1996, a human skeleton washed out of a bank of the Columbia River and reignited a 500 year controversy about the handling of human remains in this country. Archaeologists dubbed the skeleton "Kennewick Man" and advocated scientific analysis with the goal of tracking the origins of Native
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Americans. Many Native Americans are adamant that such analysis constitutes desecration and disrespect for their ancestors and cultures. David Hurst Thomas, an archaeologist sympathetic to both sides, traces the roots of the Kennewick Man debate, exposing the prejudices that have dominated American anthropology since its inception. Thomas is a fine writer and his subject matter is fascinating. Expect to be astounded, angry, inspired and, ultimately, hopeful that all parties in the debate can proceed with mutual respect
Reviewed by: Cathy
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LibraryThing member jen.e.moore
An excellent overview of the history of the archaeology and anthropology of American Indians, inspired by the controversy over Kennewick Man. This is an embarrassing history for white scientists, but it's one that needs to be told, and this is a creditable effort, for all that it's seventeen years
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old now.
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