The 9,300-year-old skeletal remains known as Kennewick Man will be transferred to the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture on the University of Washington campus in Seattle on Thursday, Oct. 29, from Battelle’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Wash. A van will deliver a sealed container with the remains at about noon.
Brief outdoor ceremonies and a question-and-answer session are scheduled at the rear, or west end, of the museum. Upon arrival there will be 15 minutes of private ceremonies conducted by American Indian tribes which consider the remains to be an ancestor. At the same time, the question-an-answer period will be conducted and will include Karl Hutterer, director of the Burke Museum; Francis McManamon, chief archaeologist of the National Park Service and chief consulting archaeologist to the Department of the Interior; and Michael Trimble, head curator of archaeology, Western Territory, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Immediately following this, the Asatru Folk Assembly, a California religious group that claims the remains are that of an ancient Viking, will conduct a public 15-minute ceremony. Then the remains will be carried into the museum for a private inventory that is expected take about nine hours.
The transfer was ordered by U.S. Magistrate John Jelderks, a Portland, Ore., judge. He is hearing a lawsuit involving a group of archaeologists who want to study the skeleton; the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which had jurisdiction of the site where the remains were discovered in 1996; a number of Indian tribes; and other parties. The judge has ordered non-invasive tests at the Burke – to be conducted by an independent scientist – to help determine whether the remains are American Indian.