This week two skeletons found upstream of the cracked Wanapum Dam were handed over to Northwest tribes. The remains were found near each other several weeks ago along the newly exposed Columbia River shore.
The state says it has the legislative authority to determine if remains are Native American and then repatriate them to tribes if they are. Richard Jantz is a well-known physical anthropologist. He fought for a decade in federal court to study Kennewick Man. He says it’s unfortunate that Washington state didn’t carbon-date these newfound remains before handing them over.
“We study the remains of Americans of all ethnicities. I think everybody loses when we understand less about the past than we might have," says Jantz.
State experts say their initial studies show that one skeleton is male, the second female. In addition, the female’s skull shows signs of being flattened by a cradleboard. A cradleboard is a traditional baby carrier used by indigenous North Americans. Northwest tribal leaders in the area say they find it very disturbing for remains to be studied in any way.
Copyright 2014 Northwest News Network.