Ancient skeleton to return to Native Americans for reburial

Kennewick Man skull, plaster cast
Kennewick Man skull, plaster cast, anthropological find from the Columbia River in Washington state, photo on black (AP Images)

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — One of the oldest and most complete skeletons found in North America will be given back to American Indian tribes in Washington state for reburial.

President Barack Obama signed a bill Monday with a provision requiring the ancient bones known as Kennewick Man be returned to tribes within 90 days.

Experts estimate the remains found in 1996 on federal land near the Columbia River are at least 8,400 years old. The discovery triggered a lengthy legal fight between tribes and scientists over whether the bones should be buried immediately or studied.

In 2015, new genetic evidence determined the remains were related to modern Native Americans.

The bill transfers the skeleton from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to the state archaeology department, which will get it to the tribes.

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