Inslee requests Kennewick Man be returned to Native Tribes and offers state assistance

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The governor today sent a letter to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers requesting that the remains of the man known as “Kennewick Man” be returned to Native American tribes. Kennewick Man was discovered in August 1996 by two college students in the water along the Columbia River in Kennewick. The remains were turned over to the Walla Walla District Corp of Engineers that owned the shorelines along the river. Subsequent radiocarbon dating revealed the remains were approximately 8,500 years old, one of the oldest set of remains from North America yet discovered. DNA analysis shows a genetic link to modern Native Americans.

“Now that DNA analysis has demonstrated a genetic link to modern Native Americans, including those in the State of Washington, I am requesting that the Ancient One be repatriated to the appropriate Tribes as expeditiously as possible,” Inslee wrote. “Our Washington State tribes have waited nineteen years for the remains to be transferred for reburial. During this time several studies have been completed, from the recent DNA analysis to numerous books. Rarely have Native American human remains been subjected to such intensive investigations and examinations.”

“The latest results, having ended many of the questions surrounding the identity of Kennewick Man, means that it is time we respect the Tribes’ repeated requests for repatriation,” Inslee continued.

Inslee requested that the Corps provide a timeline for the repatriation of Kennewick Man and offered assistance from the Washington State Department of Archaeology & Historic Preservation to facilitate the transfer.

Media Contacts

Jaime Smith
Governor Inslee’s Communications Office