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Old Questions About Newly-Exposed Bones On Columbia River Shore

Anna King
Northwest News Network
Newly exposed riverbank sprawls out upstream on the Columbia River from Wanapum Dam

Grant County officials and Native Americans are patrolling round the clock to keep sacred and sensitive sites protected on miles of exposed Columbia River shoreline.

The drawdown of water behind the damaged Wanapum Dam and the nearby Rock Island dam has exposed lots of rocky shoals. But new-found bones are churning up old questions.

Kennewick Man’s prehistoric skeleton was found nearly 20 years ago in the Tri-Cities on a July day. Now, another set of possibly ancient remains has been discovered on the newly exposed shore of the Columbia River near the resort town of Crescent Bar.

And there is some fear that more ancient remains could be found.

Guy Tasa, the lone physical anthropologist for Washington state, has been sent to Grant County to determine the growing workload. Officials need to make informed decisions whether to further study, or repatriate remains and artifacts to Northwest tribes for reburial.

Rex Buck, Jr., leader of the Wanapum band of Native Americans in the area, says the state and county are doing a respectful job for his people under the circumstances. The prehistoric Kennewick Man was tussled over in courts for about a decade.

Anna King calls Richland, Washington home and loves unearthing great stories about people in the Northwest. She reports for the Northwest News Network from a studio at Washington State University, Tri-Cities. She covers the Mid-Columbia region, from nuclear reactors to Mexican rodeos.