Ancient Encounters: Kennewick Man and the First Americans

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9780684859378: Ancient Encounters: Kennewick Man and the First Americans

In 1996, two young men found a skeleton along the Columbia River near Kennewick, Washington. "Kennewick Man," as he became known, was brought to forensic anthropologist Jim Chatters, who was astonished when tests revealed the skeleton to be nearly 9,500 years old, one of the oldest intact skeletons ever found in North America -- and one that bore little resemblance to modern Native Americans. So who was Kennewick Man, and where did he come from?
Chatters set off to find out, but his work on the skeleton was soon halted when local Native American groups claimed the skeleton as an ancestor under federal law, and demanded the right to rebury the remains. Agreeing with their claim, the U.S. government seized Kennewick Man and put him into federal storage, where he remains to this day. So began a harsh, politically charged conflict, with scientists, Native Americans, and government agencies fighting to decide the destiny of Kennewick Man.
While this battle raged, Chatters began a quest to understand the lives and origins of Kennewick Man and his contemporaries, a quest that took him across three continents and far back in time to learn the identity of these true First Americans. Ultimately, it led him to a sense of what it really means to be human.

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Review:

In this intriguing work of scholarly detection, forensic anthropologist James Chatters relates the story of a fossil discovery that has challenged received wisdom about the peopling of the Americas--and that has touched off a storm of controversy.

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

About the Author:

James C. Chatters, PH.D., is an archaeologist and paleoecologist who has dedicated his life to understanding the human and environmental prehistory of North America. He is currently a principal scientist with Foster Wheeler Environmental Corporation, an adjunct associate professor of research at Central Washington University, and a deputy coroner for Benton County, Washington. He formerly taught at the University of Washington and served as senior research scientist at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. He now lives in Bothell, Washington.

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Book Description Simon Schuster Ltd, United Kingdom, 2002. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Reprint. Language: English . Brand New Book. In 1996, two young men found a skeleton along the Columbia River near Kennewick, Washington. Kennewick Man, as he became known, was brought to forensic anthropologist Jim Chatters, who was astonished when tests revealed the skeleton to be nearly 9,500 years old, one of the oldest intact skeletons ever found in North America -- and one that bore little resemblance to modern Native Americans. So who was Kennewick Man, and where did he come from? Chatters set off to find out, but his work on the skeleton was soon halted when local Native American groups claimed the skeleton as an ancestor under federal law, and demanded the right to rebury the remains. Agreeing with their claim, the U.S. government seized Kennewick Man and put him into federal storage, where he remains to this day. So began a harsh, politically charged conflict, with scientists, Native Americans, and government agencies fighting to decide the destiny of Kennewick Man. While this battle raged, Chatters began a quest to understand the lives and origins of Kennewick Man and his contemporaries, a quest that took him across three continents and far back in time to learn the identity of these true First Americans. Ultimately, it led him to a sense of what it really means to be human. Bookseller Inventory # BZV9780684859378

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Book Description Simon Schuster Ltd, United Kingdom, 2002. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Reprint. Language: English . This book usually ship within 10-15 business days and we will endeavor to dispatch orders quicker than this where possible. Brand New Book. In 1996, two young men found a skeleton along the Columbia River near Kennewick, Washington. Kennewick Man, as he became known, was brought to forensic anthropologist Jim Chatters, who was astonished when tests revealed the skeleton to be nearly 9,500 years old, one of the oldest intact skeletons ever found in North America -- and one that bore little resemblance to modern Native Americans. So who was Kennewick Man, and where did he come from? Chatters set off to find out, but his work on the skeleton was soon halted when local Native American groups claimed the skeleton as an ancestor under federal law, and demanded the right to rebury the remains. Agreeing with their claim, the U.S. government seized Kennewick Man and put him into federal storage, where he remains to this day. So began a harsh, politically charged conflict, with scientists, Native Americans, and government agencies fighting to decide the destiny of Kennewick Man. While this battle raged, Chatters began a quest to understand the lives and origins of Kennewick Man and his contemporaries, a quest that took him across three continents and far back in time to learn the identity of these true First Americans. Ultimately, it led him to a sense of what it really means to be human. Bookseller Inventory # BZV9780684859378

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Book Description Simon Schuster Ltd, United Kingdom, 2002. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Reprint. Language: English . Brand New Book. In 1996, two young men found a skeleton along the Columbia River near Kennewick, Washington. Kennewick Man, as he became known, was brought to forensic anthropologist Jim Chatters, who was astonished when tests revealed the skeleton to be nearly 9,500 years old, one of the oldest intact skeletons ever found in North America -- and one that bore little resemblance to modern Native Americans. So who was Kennewick Man, and where did he come from? Chatters set off to find out, but his work on the skeleton was soon halted when local Native American groups claimed the skeleton as an ancestor under federal law, and demanded the right to rebury the remains. Agreeing with their claim, the U.S. government seized Kennewick Man and put him into federal storage, where he remains to this day. So began a harsh, politically charged conflict, with scientists, Native Americans, and government agencies fighting to decide the destiny of Kennewick Man. While this battle raged, Chatters began a quest to understand the lives and origins of Kennewick Man and his contemporaries, a quest that took him across three continents and far back in time to learn the identity of these true First Americans. Ultimately, it led him to a sense of what it really means to be human. Bookseller Inventory # AAS9780684859378

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