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Murray Celebrates Imminent Return Of Kennewick Man To Northwest Tribes

Brittney Tatchell
Smithsonian Institution -
Kennewick Man, a 9,000-year-old skeleton, was found on the banks of the Columbia River by students in 1996.

Several Northwest tribes are meeting this week with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and with the Washington state Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation to discuss the imminent reburial of the Ancient One, or Kennewick Man.

Kennewick Man is a 9,000-year-old skeleton found on the banks of the Columbia River about 20 years ago by students. It’s one of the most-studied skeletons in the world.

Washington Sen. Patty Murray, a Democrat, championed a bill that gives the ancient bones to the tribes. It was recently signed into law by President Barack Obama.

The transfer of Kennewick Man could take up to three months, but tribal officials are hoping to rebury the bones as soon as they can. Murray said she met with the Northwest tribes about 18 months ago.

“The compelling piece of their story, that this was one of their own, the tears in their eyes, the long years -- just really said to me it’s time to get this done,” she said.

When it happens, the burial won’t be open to the public or the press.

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.