Who Is Kennewick Man? Study Determines Racial ID of 8,500-Year-Old Skeleton

By Natalie Stevenson

An archaeological mystery that called into question the racial history of the Americas has finally been solved. After consecutively assigning him Caucasian, Japanese, and Native American ancestry, a team of scientists including some at UC Berkeley say they have finally determined the geographic origins of the Kennewick Man.

“Kennewick Man” is the skeletal remains of a middle-aged man found on the banks of Washington’s Columbia River in 1996. Carbon dating determined that the bones were roughly 9,000 years old. The discovery attracted attention immediately when the remains were initially declared to be Caucasoid based on skull measurements.

The term “Caucasoid” hearkens back to the 19th century, when many anthropologists classified humans within three racial groups: Negroid, Caucasoid, and Mongoloid. Dated as the term is, some in the public seized on the idea that Kennewick Man was white, suggesting that white settlers arrived in the Americas far earlier than previously thought. The public’s imagination was perhaps spurred by a scientific facial reconstruction of Kennewick Man that bears a striking resemblance to actor Patrick Stewart.

The public’s imagination was perhaps spurred by a scientific facial reconstruction of Kennewick Man that bears a striking resemblance to actor Patrick Stewart.

Subsequent studies suggested that Kennewick Man was more closely related to either Polynesians or the Ainu people of Japan than he was to indigenous North Americans, indicating the early arrival of Asiatic peoples to the continent. Genetic testing now appears to have settled the question of his racial affinity. DNA from a finger bone remnant indicates that his closest modern-day relatives are Native Americans, specifically the Colville tribes of Eastern Washington. (A closer match may be possible, but not all tribes have provided genetic material for analysis.)

The findings, published in the journal Nature in June, undermine the validity of skull measurements in determining race, a practice long questioned by the scientific community. “You cannot assign an individual to a specific geographic group based on skull shape,” says Rasmus Neilsen, a Berkeley computational biology professor and coauthor of the study. Some of the paper’s collaborators studied Native American skulls from similar geographic groups and found that there is too much variation within populations to determine geographic origin for a single skull.

DNA evidence has also complicated an old question: Who were the first Americans? Although Neilsen’s study suggests a single migration, a recent Harvard study found genetic similarities between native Amazonian tribes and aboriginal populations in Australia, New Guinea, and the Andaman Islands. The Harvard study concluded these genes likely arrived with a now-extinct common ancestor in a separate migration.

Meanwhile, Kennewick Man is embroiled in yet another controversy, this one pitting tribes against researchers. “The Ancient One,” as he is often called by Native Americans, faces dueling claims over custody of his bones. Several tribes, including the Colville, want to give him a ceremonial burial; many scientists, however, want to continue studying the remains. In 2004, a group of researchers led by the Smithsonian Institution won a lawsuit against the Bureau of Land Management for the right to study the bones, which now reside in the Burke Museum at the University of Washington and are managed by the government.

Neilsen’s finding may change that. Federal law states that any funerary remains must be returned to indigenous peoples if a “lineal descent or cultural affiliation” is proved. No doubt the results of the genetic testing will renew tribal efforts to repatriate the bones, perhaps finally settling the legal question of whether Kennewick Man will be treated as a revered ancestor or an object of study.

—Natalie Stevenson

From the Fall 2015 Questions of Race issue of California.
Image source: Chip Clark, Smithsonian Institution
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On December 9, 2010 in The New York Times science writer Nicolas Wade wrote: “Anthropologists have been thrown into turmoil about the nature and future of their profession after a decision by the American Anthropological Association at its recent annual meeting to strip the word ‘science’ from a statement of its long-range plan.” On her July 2010 radio show (WOR 710AM in New York) national talk-host Joan Hamburg spoke about her early career as a paleontologist and confessed “When we dig up something we don’t really know anything. We just make it up.” Pro-evolutionist, Bill Bryson in his best-seller “A Short History of Nearly Everything” wrote “If you correlate [fossil] tool discovery with the species of creature most found nearby, you would have to conclude that early hand tools were mostly made by antelopes…” Especially read the entry on the ultimate arrogance of The American Museum of Natural History life-sized African diorama with two hairy homonids—based on a set of footprints! In pro-evolutionist Bill Bryson’s best seller, “A Short History of Nearly Everything” he writes about “The American Museum of Natural History Hall of Human Biology and Evolution” in New York that has an absorbing diorama that depicts life-sized creations of a male and female walking side by side across the ancient African plain. The tableau is presented with such conviction that it is easy to overlook the consideration that virtually everything above the footprints is imaginary.” He asked the curator of the museum and paleoanthropologist, Ian Tattersall, if “he was troubled about the amount of artistic license that was taken in reconstructing the figures,? Tattersall replied, “It’s always a problem in making recreations. You wouldn’t believe how much discussion can go into deciding details like whether Neanderthals had eyebrows or not…We simply can’t know the details of what they looked like… If I had to do it again, I think I might have made them slightly more apelike and less human.” On almost every other page he writes about the chicanery, dishonesty, fraud—even murder in paleontology and archaeology. READ HIS BOOK AND FIND OUT FOR YOURSELF. This is chicanery not science. This is weird imagination not science. This is absolute fraud. This is pure bunk.
I was watching a scientific video about Europeans entering North America from the ice bridge between Europe and North America during the last ice age. The very intricate stone tool technology known as ‘ClovisPoint’ was UNIQUE to Europe….yet there have been numerous finds of clearly beautifully shaped Clovis points in N. America…..ranging in age from BEFORE the migrations of Siberians into N. America. I think one clovis point was dated at 17,000 YEARS BEFORE PRESENT. So, scientists were promted to study DNA of various tribes of American Indians. What they found was that 4 separate dna sequences show that Native Americans arrived from Siberia….But there was one OTHER sequence which derived from Europe. The tribe that showed the greatest % of this European source was the Ojibway, other wise known as the Chippewa…..who are located in the northern Midwest. 25% of their genes are from this European source. !!!! Next, the scientist tracked down when this dna was generated….thinking that some white women in recent history were responsible for this gene pool. What they found was that this gene sequence was 12,000 years old…….bEFORE the arrival of the Siberians. So, combined with the spear points and the dna testing, we see that there almost surely there Were Europeans entering North America over the continuous ice bridge between Europe and North America during the ice age. In regard to Kennewick man, the Native Americans and the governemtn appear to be doing their best to sweep Kennewick man into the dust bin of history…I expect a cover up of the embarrassing facts that Kennewick man may be related to Europeans. The DNA TESTING THEY DID OF kENNEWICK MAN SEEMED TO BE COUCHED IN gibberish….they merely said that kennewick man was most closely related to certain tribes of Native American tribes….what tribes….oh…the Ojibway tribe was one of them, and as far as the others, I am not sure if they are part of the Ojibways, or related to them. So, the dna tesing and the PC scientists gobblydygook talk JUST HAPPENS to relate Kennewick man most closely to the Ojibway tribe, the one tribe already proven to have the greatest link with ancient DNA from EUROPE. Bottom line, the evidence is looking OVERWHELMINGLY that EUROPEANS FROM AROUND 20,000 years ago settled North America FROM Europe before ANY settlers from Asia arrived in North America……OOPS!…talk about politically incorrect……Now you see why they wanted Kennewick man buried again ASAP…..don’t be surprised if Kennewick man is lost to the ages. I suspect that bthe DNA testing results were couched in terms to BEST CONFUSE the origins of the DNA…….I would bet that there WAS able to be made a strong connection to European origins……..and this is corroborated by the OJIBWAY tribe being the most closely related to Kennewick man. HOW SAD and unbelievably ignorant is this PC approach to science……just say what you want the Science to say to advance your cause…never mind the true research results, never mind scientific theory, that you need to prove your hypothesis, such as global warming is significant and man made….this has never been proven…never mind about allowing reseacrh to even take place, as in Kennewick man……bury kennewick man, after you’ve done sham studies, and just ASSERT that Kennewick man is most related to native Americans….cover up that Kennewick man is related to the one tribe in North America that has already proven to share the most links with ancient European DNA……. This Political Correctness is EVIL…..We would ALL like to know the TRUE history of man’s journey…how evil to bury our history just because a few Native American tribes want to cling to their privileges granted to them under the PC narrative of the poor, bedraggled Native Americans. No one is looking to belittle the Native American tribes…..we humans just want to know the true story of man’s journey around the world. The facts look to be that Europeans and Asians met in ancient times on the North American continent, after both having started out in AFRICA. tHIS FINAL CIRCUMVENTING OF THE GLOBE PROBABLY HAPPENED around the time of Kennewick man…..how stupid and sad to cover up the REAL meaning of Kennewick man’s discovery.!!!!!!!!
Clovis Points are NOT unique to Europe! They ARE unique to America! Solutrean Points are unique to Europe, they have nothing to do with American points or America….period! I think it’s pethetic the lengths some Euro-Americans will go thru to be the, be all, end all thru out the world going as far as to attribute beautiful indigenous, Native American artifacts and tool kits to Ice Age Europeans who never left the Asian/European continent. Do you honestly think these Stone Age Euros could actually make a trams Atlantic boat trip to America ? Then you are more delusional than you sound. First off, the Native Americans have been in the Americas longer than your measley little timeframe of 12,000 years. The oldest genetic material to date is 14,600 years old found in Paisley Caves, Oregon they found 2 of the founders haplogroups A2 and B2. Then there is Anzick-1 child at 13,000 years old found in Montana haplogroups Ydna Q1a3a and Mtdna D4h3a. Then there is Naia found in yucatan Mexico at 13,000 years old haplogroup Mtdna D1. Kenniwick Man was found in Washington on the west coast is the most basal form of Mtdna X2a and Ydna Q-M3. The Ojibawe are not the only ones with X2a, it is found on the west coast in the Colville, Nez Perce, Yakama, and the Umatilla. It is also found in the Navajo people who came in later to the Southwest from Alaska and the Pacific Northwest. Ojibawe are the furthest from being the only ones in America to have it, the Algonquin, the Lakota, Dakota and Nakota have X2a. This has nothing to do with being politically correct, this has to do with evidence, and there is no Evidence that shows European Immigrants in American before the Native Americans. It’s people like you who feel that we should disregard all evidence that native Americans were the only ones here making their own toolkit the Clovis points. Why is it so hard for you to stop stealing other people’s accomplishments because you think these Ice age Euros were somehow superior and that the deserve to have the Clovis points attributed to them because they MIGHT have made it over here across 6,000 mile of Atlantic Ocean?! The facts are that The European Solutrean points are not even half as beautiful as the Clovis Points, who are distinctly Smaller and Fluted, as opposed to the Solutrean points who are Big, some are a foot long, and laurel leaf shaped. They are so thin, that some scientist think that they might of been used in ceremonial purposes, in other words, they look nothing like Clovis points who were much sturdier and definitely used for hunting and not just ceremonial. There is zero evidence that these ice age Euros ever had any capacity for ocean travel, not even shore hugging capacity, I think you are giving the Cave men to much credit! Another point is that there is NO question that Kenniwick Man was Native American. he has been tested by the number one Biogeneticist in the world, by the name of Dr Eske Willerslev from the University of Copenhagen , then by the University of Chicago dr Waters. They have all had their findings peer reviewed. There is zero chance that they would submit a flawed study and not be called out by their peers, it’s all transparent. I think you are delusional and are so biased in your supposed white supremacy fantasy, that you rather believe in Fairytales. It must suck that you live for your conspiracy theories. There is no magic cutoff date where anything after 12,000 years must be a separate migration of Europeans, anything earlier than 12,000 years would mean that Native Americans took another way to get into the Americas and there is proof that they took boats down the pacific ocean then overland past the ice free corridor and were in Florida 16,000 years ago, and they were already in Monte Verde by 18,000 years ago. But gee, guess what?! There is generic evidence that puts the ancestors of the Native Americans here in America at least by 14,600 years ago, so where are all these ice age European cave men that were so superior that they built boats and traveled all the way to America , even though there is no proof they knew how to fish let alone built seafaring boats! X2a Native American haplogroup is Not European, not even close! The European X2b is more from the Middle East, not Europe, and is not closely related to The Native American haplotype X2a and X2 is also found in The Altai people in the Altai mountains were the other founding Haplogroups originated and X2a is the same age as the other Amerindian haplogroups. Get your facts straight. I know Native American Clovis Lithic traditions are awesome, that doesn’t mean it makes sense to try and tie to two totally different Lithic styles from two different cultures each on the other side of the world. Occam’s razor and convergent evolution applies here.
“You people” “steal other people’s accomplishments”? A bit racist, don’t you think? Whites invented nearly everything of use in modern society, and a such, don’t need to “steal” anything. We give, if anything, such as the wheel to the Americas, along with written language to many tribes. In researching this subject, I find your angry, poorly-written, riddled with spelling and grammatical errors diatribes bickering about how Europe isn’t related to any of this sadly predictable. Your racial hostility clouds your ability to discuss this topic civilly.
The Mayans had the Wheel and the Axel dumbass!! Just because they used for toys doesn’t change the fact that they had the brains to come up with the concept. And Europeans did steal from the Natives. Why else is your ass here and not in Europe?! You were not invited here! Europeans didn’t invent the wheel did they? They borrowed it from the Mesopotamians. Just like gunpowder from the Chinese. Anything invented in America is because of the riches stolen from the Natives. Before the Europeans left their own decrepit shithole countries they were starving with their low calorie, low nutrients foods and were not inventing anything. That all changed when the Europeans “Discovered” the high calorie, high nutrient foods of the Americas like Corn and the Potato. Anything that was invented in the Americas due to the rich resources and foods that belongs to the Natives because without their land and agricultural genius you would still be living in your shit hole countries, dying from disease from your shit caked streets and homes. You euros would not be inventing anything. Like I said before, keep your racist hands off our history, our artifacts, and our ancestors and stop trying to write your sorry assed ancestors into our own history. They never went anywhere on purpose, especially the Americas until the 1500s. If you were really proud of your own ancestral history, you would not be trying to rewrite it now would you?
You speak of calling one racist when within your own comment is filled with your own repeated racist comments you make..
The Native Americans invented their own version of Axel and wheel! The European didn’t bring anything but disease and death to the Americas, and anything that was invented after the European hordes got here was because of the vast Native American resources stolen from them. Europe and Europeans wouldn’t have amounted to anything if not for the vast wealth of gold and crops stolen from the Americans, not you but the Natives. Get the fuck out!! Europe was a poor, illiterate backwater, especially Northern Europeans and England to be exact! Where would North America is the most powerful Nation, not because of the hordes of unwashed diseased Euros, but because of the rich Native food crops the domesticated, and the vast wealth stolen from them! You crack me up!! Europeans never invented the wheel either Dufus!! Europeans inherited it from their Arab ancestors who got it from the Mesopotamians! Lol.
No one but you mentioned a connection to the Ojibway. The closest DNA connection was to the Colville tribe.
I would like to speak with you concerning your opinion. Could you send me a link with papers or documents you have published. I am curious where you found your information, I would like to read it.
As usual, these discussi9ns get couched in modern day politics. The main point I would make to all of you …. what we consider today as Sub Saharan African, East Asian, Northern European …. NONE existed 13,000 years ago. Given that the population of humans who migrated to America did so before the existence of any of the stereo typed races, makes it such that an attribution to this or that race is STUPID! The truth, Native Americans evolved from a population of humans that migrated from the human population that inhabited the Supra Saharan region. Without doubt, they were darker skinned, and likely were similar to Proto types that gave rise to Mid Eastern Asians, East Asians and White Europeans.
Since The ancestral Native Americans were already in Alaska 25,000+ years ago, they were not Supra Africans either. They were Native American. Native Americans traveled the farthest from the African continent, and genetically are the furthest from any African population, out of all OOA populations. Native Have always had dark skin even today, but never had black skin. No one knows what color of skin SSA had 13,000, they could of had lighter skin in the past since the migrated from the North to South. Are you saying Native American migrated directly from Africa to the Americas by boat? If you are, you are just as delusional as the dude before my comment. Everyone has an ancestral homeland, and the Native Americans had 2 full continent. The The Asians/ Europeans shared their continents, even Sub Saharan African Blacks shared the continent with North African Caucasoids. Ancestral Native American founders were a very small group, that begat the Millions of Native American Nations and tribes from Northeast Siberia, North America to South America. Being descendants of the small founders group they are all more closely related to each other, than any other people on earth. There are no close relatives in Europe, Africa, Asia or Oceania. Since European invaders stepped foot in the Americas, they have been trying to write themselves into the pre-European invasion history of the Double American continents. Even now they are jealous of what the Native Americans accomplished in their ancestral homelands they try to take credit for all of them, even our lithic toolkits, mounds, pyramids, and ancestral remains like Kennewick man, Spirit Cave Man, Lovelock Cave Skulls. Now more recently we have African American descendants of slaves who are trying to appropriate our civilizations, identity’s, cultures, and our ancient ancestors like Luzia, Naia, the Olmec, and the California Natives. Even though thes ancestors have been DNA tested they still try to revise Native American primacy. The Americas will never be your White European Homeland, or your Black African Homeland. You are immigrants to the Americas whether you like it or not, and Millions of Native Americans inhabited these two continents for thousands of years and created unique civilizations that are unlike anything in Europe, Asia, or Africa, so get over it already.
Hey y’all, peace out. 1st wr all dont do so well in typos on these damn tech wonders. 2nd, im a navy retired navigation teacher and we all know that the currents in the Atlantic and the Pacific can take a crazed group of adventurers here to this wonderful land we all share…the Americas. I believe that the black man and the asiatic man have been getting in the waters and ending up here forever…well, since the most crazy and smartedt ones could bouild craft that is. We dont know who did what exactly and we shouldnt really put 100% of our faith into DNA testing. Im a realist and i go with what is real and right in front of me. Dont forget the Beringia. And, NO, we cannot rule out that great adventurers from Europe did not walk across..or climb..huh, thru that death. Yikes..imagine that trek…bbrrr
Why on earth would the second facial reconstruction have a full beard? Native Americans don’t.
How are you going to tell me the ancestors of the Native Americans 9,000 years ago didn’t grow beards?! Their are countless tribes on the West Coast who had full and lush beards at first contact in 1500 ad. California Indians were well known for their facial hair, the Chumash were the first NAs to meet the Spaniards, who documented that all the men in the Santa Barbara Channel Islands were Bearded. The first name given to the Chumash on what is now known as Santa Cruz Island, was called ‘Island of the bearded men’! I’m sick and tired of the Stereotypes put out about the Native Americans, by people who know next to zero about NA people and tribes. People like you have been attributing any art pieces and painting of bearded Indians, and using them for this diffusionism fantasy of white Americans who can’t stop trying to steal the cultural patrimony of Native Americans, by inserting other races in the American past where they don’t belong!
I have maintained, for decades, that we know very little of the real early migrations of humans. A few years ago, a geneticist from Johns Hopkins published a genetic study of Jews. He maintained that all previous studies had, in essence thrown a dart, then drawn the dart board around the dart. He was viciously attacked as an anti-Semite, even though he was Jewish. It seems to me, that the archaeological world operates on the same basis as the draw the dartboard around the dart method. The assumption is that the land bridge theory from the Northwest is the dart. Conveniently forgotten are discoveries that do not fit the narrative. For example, pyramids are a wide phenomenon. They appear in the ME, Asia, Bosnia, and North America. Pre-Columbian art shows Whites being sacrificed by Aztecs. The Mayans and Aztecs thought the Spaniard were the returning gods. Thor Heyerdahl sailed his papyrus Ra to South America. Papyrus was found in Lake Titicaca. Heyerdahl later sailed Kon-Tiki to Easter Island, where papyrus was found. Early settlers to Illinois and Missouri found giant skeletons with double rows of teeth. Some had red hair. Contemporary newspaper articles state that the skeletons were sent to the Smithsonian, which denied receiving them. Only recently has the Smithsonian admitted that it “misplaced” many artifacts. Where the “misplaced” are is unknown. Were the “misplaced” giant skeletons because Asians don’t have red hair? While two of the above are not as old as the “first” to North America, the third is unknown. I have always believed that the “out of Africa” narrative was false. One simple example is that no African has Neanderthal DNA. Where did Neanderthal DNA come from?Australian Aborigines are said to have the worlds oldest human DNA. They are the descendants of Denisovians, whose remains have been found in Russia and throughout Asia. I find it difficult to believe that there were no humans in North America prior to either the “land bridge” or “Solutrean” theories. Humans have been on the planet for much longer than people will admit. Recent discoveries in Bulgaria and Greece predate any African finds, but they are attacked because they don’t fit the “out of Africa” narrative. I don’t know what the prehistory of human occupation of the Americas is, but there are too many anomalies in the official narrative to make it believable as the only “truth”.
It’s the insecure pathology of the Euro-American immigrant who is covetous of the ancient presence and deep ties the the soil of Native Americans , they know they will never have. They will always be a guest in America and never truly belong because when the look to ancient history here they will never see themselves OR their ancestors! That’s why they haven’t stopped for the last 350 years, trying to find these mythological white tribes, moundbuilders, Solutreans, Welsh Mandans, Blond Eskimos, White Chachapoyas, 13 tribes of Israel, oh and don’t forget the Red headed Giants! Talk about low self esteem, this sick need of the White man to insert his immigrant ass into the Native American past is beyond pathetic!