Legislation Returning Kennewick Man to Tribes Approved by House

September 28, 2016
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today the U.S. House of Representatives passed an amendment introduced by Representatives Dan Newhouse (R-WA) and Denny Heck (D-WA) that transfers the prehistoric human remains of the Kennewick Man to a coalition of Columbia Basin tribes. The amendment, also cosponsored by Congressman Derek Kilmer (D-WA) and Congressman Greg Walden (R-OR), was adopted as part of H.R. 5303, the Water Resources Development Act of 2016, which was passed on a vote of 399 to 25. The amendment text is similar to legislation previously introduced by Rep. Heck, H.R. 4131, the Bring the Ancient One Home Act.

Leaders in the House and Senate will now work to resolve the differences between the House and Senate versions of the Water Resources Development Act. A similar amendment was also included in the Senate version by Senator Patty Murray (D-WA). The House and Senate will then vote on the conference report before the legislation is sent to the President.

“20 years after the discovery of the Kennewick Man on the banks of the Columbia River, it is finally time to repatriate the human remains. I am pleased that this bipartisan legislation transfers responsibility of the Kennewick Man from the federal government to Columbia Basin tribes where he belongs.” – Rep. Dan Newhouse

“For two decades, the Native peoples of the Columbia River Basin have strived to rebury their ancestor. The action taken by Congress today honors the rights and traditions of these Tribes and returns the Ancient One home.” – Rep. Denny Heck

“This is good news for our region. Returning these prehistoric remains to their rightful place is simply common-sense. I’m pleased that the House passed our plan on a bipartisan vote, and that this long process will soon be coming to a conclusion,” – Rep. Greg Walden.

“Tribes in Washington state have a right to bring the Ancient One home. I’m glad that the House of Representatives has recognized this and passed our bipartisan legislation to honor the descendants of the Ancient One and clear the path for a proper burial on tribal lands.” – Rep. Derek Kilmer

The amendment adopted today transfers the remains from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to the Washington Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation, in order to repatriate the remains to the claimant tribes through the State Historic Preservation Officer. The coalition of Columbia Basin tribes includes the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, the Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation, the Nez Perce Tribe, the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Reservation, and the Wanapum Band of Priest Rapids.


You can read the text of the amendment here.