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On July 28, 1996 a human skull was found along the banks of the Columbia River at Kennewick, Washington. This skull would lead to the discovery of a complete skeleton with characteristics of a Caucasian male. The significance of this discovery is that it's dated to between 9,300 and 9,600 years ago, making it one of the earliest skeletons found in the United States and the second oldest found in Washington. With this great archeological find controversy was soon to follow. The skeleton was found on a portion of the Colombian River maintained by the United Sates Marine Corps of Engineers, but also part of the traditional home of the Umatilla tribe.
By first settlers, Native Americans were called red- skinned, however, their skins were not red - many tribes used to paint their bodies with that colour (Franz and Minderhout 2008: 82- 83. Frequently used term Indians was coined by Christopher Columbus in 1492, as he believed that he had reached India. (Hamby 2005: 6- 7) The first Native Americans led a nomadic life, moving into today's mainland United States. The change of the climate and extensive hunting caused the extinction of large mammals, which forced indigenous people to introduce primitive agriculture. The setting up of the first settlements about 1000 BC encouraged the ancient Indians to introduce basketry, handicraft and farming.
The loss of valuable information to help scientists as well as people understand who contributed to the colonization of North America in prehistoric times is one of the many problems. 9,300-year-old bones were found on a riverbank in Washington in 1996. At first these bones were thought to be from a white settler, but in all actuality the bones turned out to be the oldest ever found in North America. Many Native American tribes have already laid claim to “Kennewick Man”, but paleo-anthropologists believe Kennewick man may have arrived by boat from Polynesia, or coming over the Bering Strait from Siberia as most of the Native Americans did. If NAGPRA wins the legal battle a valuable amount of information may be lost forever.
Science Online. Facts On File, Inc. Web. 25 Apr. 2012. http://www.fofweb.com University of California Museum of Paleonto (Lead Author);C Michael Hogan (Topic Editor) "Devonian".
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