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Ancient Encounters: Kennewick Man and the First Americans Paperback – August 13, 2002
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On July 28, 1996, two students happened on a skull that peeked from the mud of a Washington riverbank. When police officers arrived at the site, they called in Chatters, a deputy coroner and scientist. At first glance, Chatters guessed that the skull was that of a white pioneer, perhaps a hundred or so years old, but on examining other skeletal remains, he began to suspect that the human eventually dubbed "Kennewick Man" was much older indeed. Various scientific tests proved him right: the skeleton was around 9,500 years old. But Kennewick Man, he announced, was also "Caucasoid" in appearance, a revelation that triggered charges of racism and tomb-robbing by local Native Americans, who claimed the remains as part of their cultural heritage. The announcement also drew in white supremacists, who seized on Chatters's discovery to argue that their forebears were the first to arrive in North America.
Both the term "Caucasoid" and its racially charged interpretations were off the mark, Chatters writes, for Kennewick Man should be seen as an ancestor to us all. Some of his features, and those of other ancient remains found elsewhere in the Americas, suggest a kinship with peoples as various as Polynesians, Ainu, medieval Icelanders, and Australian aborigines. More important than bloodline is the revision that Kennewick Man and his cousins force in our account of the arrival of humans in the Americas, which, Chatters argues, happened in waves over long periods of time and involved people of widely varied features and genetic traits.
Writing evenly of a controversy that continues to rage, Chatters provides a behind-the-scenes view of physical anthropology, as well as a fascinating revision of the human past. --Gregory McNamee --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
The history of the find and ensuing battles between scientists, native groups, and the government is riveting (and unpromising to the future of archaeology in this country). Chatters also goes the extra mile and compares his find to all the other known ancient American skeletal remains, which gives this book a general picture of the state of "early Americans" studies which ensures that I will use this book as a text for my upcoming course on the subject.
A couple of minor things keeps this book from being "perfect", in my opinion. First, since he trusts us to follow the "Caucasoid-but-not-Caucasian" osteological discussion, it could have been enhanced by some simple diagram of the 3 major modern skull "ethnic" groups, showing major points where early Americans do and DO NOT resemble these types. Second, although there were ample references in the endnotes, a few assertions were tossed off and never referenced (The one that bothered me most: mention of a biface-and-blade stone tool technology in Japan that is a putative ancestor to Clovis technology in the Americas.Read more ›
Chatters recounts the struggle over K-man's remains in fascinating detail. His is a nonfiction work that also provides some of the satisfactions of a mystery and a thriller (so might want to jump over parts of this), as well as an absurdist tragicomedy. The last, thanks mostly to a US Army Corps of Engineers that exhibits all the serious scientific integrity and commitment to due process one might expect if a mad political scientist had managed to join Monty Python's Ministry of Silly Walks to the Spanish Inquisition.
Chatters' first reaction is that the skeleton belongs to some early colonial-era white pioneer; however, upon closer inspection, the remains prove to be much older. The initial examination is barely complete when the federal government, having jurisdiction over the excavation site, begins to seize K-man's remains to turn them over to local Indians.
The government declares that it is carrying out the provisions of the 1990 Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA), a law, according to Chatters, which is "being used by the Indian tribes to reclaim all ancient human skeletons, regardless of their age and often with little or no opportunity allowed for scientific investigation."
As the government begins to close in on K-man, Chatters hurriedly consults another anthropologist, a highly respected forensic competitor, in order to obtain an unbiased second opinion: `Male Caucasian,' she said. `You sure?' I asked. `Easy call,' was the firm response.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Better than fiction. A heroic Forensic Professor's legal, moral, and ethical battle with the powers-that-be and Indian treaties all the way to the Supreme Court that tried to... Read morePublished 3 months ago by L. Brown
This book is a very readable book presented first hand and as such the reader feels the enthusiasm, frustration, effort, and triumph of a fine piece of work. Read morePublished 14 months ago by Fred Morse
This $12 book is the one you should buy and read. The big-time $70 story of this event is rampant with political favoritism and this $12 book is simply the truth well told. Read morePublished 20 months ago by Luap
another case of Politics (Clinton's Interior Sec) ruling out any science that disagrees with the politics.. Read morePublished 23 months ago by Tonto
I have been interested in Kennewick Man and other 10,000 year old human remains since their discovery. Read morePublished on June 13, 2014 by Keith Causey
Interesting read. The author in my opinion was a bit arrogant, and this was not written for the lay person, but it still has many things of interest, and even I could understand a... Read morePublished on July 12, 2013 by thenewser
the book lists all documented findings of humans relicts, that are highly questionable for the archeologists up to now, because they could not explain it by common theories.Published on June 23, 2013 by don Christobal de Belize