News Releases

Sen. Murray first introduced legislation in 2015 to hand over remains of the Ancient One, also known as Kennewick Man, to his descendants
 
The bill is now headed to the President’s desk to be signed into law
 

  

(Washington, D.C.) –  Today, Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) announced that a provision in the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act that would start the process to return the Ancient One to his rightful resting place has passed both the House and the Senate. It is now headed to the President’s desk to be signed into law. Senator Murray has fought to return the remains of the Ancient One, also known as Kennewick Man, to Columbia Basin tribes since she introduced the bill in 2015.

 

“This victory would not have been possible without the determination, collaboration, and leadership of the claimant tribes of the Columbia River plateau, who impressed upon me just how much it meant to them for Congress to end decades of debate and to give them the opportunity to give their descendant a proper burial and a final resting place. I want to thank Congressmen Dan Newhouse and Denny Heck for being my partners in the House to get this over the finish line,” said Senator Murray.

 

Experts believe the remains, discovered in 1996 on federal land near the Columbia River, are at least 8,400 years old, making the Ancient One among the oldest and most complete skeletons found in North America. In June 2015, new genetic evidence determined the remains were closer to modern Native Americans than any other population worldwide. The provision championed by Senator Murray transfers the Ancient One from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to the Washington Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation, which has existing, effective, and efficient regulations in place to carry out repatriation of remains such as these to tribes. Senator Murray stands ready to work with both agencies to ensure the provision is implemented swiftly. Several area tribes have joined together in calling for the Ancient One’s return to his descendants, to be laid to rest in an undisclosed location.