Ancient Skeleton

This July 24, 1997 file photo shows a plastic casting of the skull from the bones known as Kennewick Man in Richland, Wash. The ancient skeleton, found nearly 20 years ago in a river in Washington, is related to Native Americans, says a DNA study published Thursday, June 18, 2015. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)

KENNEWICK — U.S. Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-Sunnyside, is the latest Washington political leader to say the remains of Kennewick Man should be returned to a coalition of Columbia Basin tribes.

“It’s been almost 20 years since the Kennewick Man was discovered,” Newhouse told the Herald on Friday. “We’ve had the opportunity to do all kinds of scientific testing. Personally, I don’t see any reason not to move forward to return the remains of the Kennewick Man to the native peoples. It seems like the science, as I understand, would support that. And I would support that, as well.”

Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., has introduced a bill that would transfer the remains of the nearly complete male skeleton, which is at least 8,400 years old, from the Army Corps of Engineers to the state archeology and historic preservation department, which guides repatriation. Gov. Jay Inslee also has written a letter to the Corps asking that the remains be returned.

The new legislation came about two months after a team led by University of Copenhagen geneticist Eske Willerslev released the results of DNA testing showing the bones are more closely linked to modern Native Americans than any other living group.

The bones of the Kennewick Man, or the Ancient One, were found on Corps property along the Columbia River in Kennewick. The discovery sparked a years-long court battle.

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