Synopses & Reviews
The 1996 discovery, near Kennewick, Washington, of a 9,000-year-old Caucasoid skeleton brought to a boil long-building tensions between Native Americans and the archeological community. Besides raising profound scientific questions, the explosive controversy and resulting lawsuit over Kennewick Man uncovered deeply held grievances of both sides. Indians felt that archaeologists were systematically taking their history, traditions, and tribal identities away from them and reinterpreting them in the context of Western science.
Archaeologists, seeing remains and artifacts removed from museum for reburial, and their access to new sites closed, feared for the future of their science.
Skull Wars tells, for the first time, the riveting story of archaeologists' relations with American Indians and how they deteriorated with the rise of scientific archaeology.
The 1996 discovery, near Kennewick, Washington, of a 9,000-year-old Caucasoid skeleton brought more to the surface than bones. The explosive controversy and resulting lawsuit also raised a far more fundamental question: Who owns history? Many Indians see archeologists as desecrators of tribal rites and traditions; archeologists see their livelihoods and science threatened by the 1990 Federal reparation law, which gives tribes control over remains in their traditional territories.In this new work, Thomas charts the riveting story of this lawsuit, the archeologists deteriorating relations with American Indians, and the rise of scientific archeology. His telling of the tale gains extra credence from his own reputation as a leader in building cooperation between the two sides.
Centered on the lawsuit over Kennewick Man, this lively history illuminates one of the most contentious issues in science: the battle between archeologists and American Indians.
About the Author
As Curator of Anthropology and former Chairman of the Department of Anthropology at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, David Hurst Thomas is responsible for the largest collection of Indian artifacts and remains in the world. Thomas is a founding Trustee of the National Museum of the American Indian and a member of the National Academy of Sciences. He lives in New York City.