The Tale of the Ancient Bones
Although the skeleton of Kennewick Man was unearthed 10 years ago, Native Americans kept scientists from examining the 9,400-year-old remains until last summer. Our report on the fight and the findings caught the eye of readers eager to learn what such bones can tell us about the settlement of the Americas
Personal experience as a Japanese American has always led me to believe early man in America came from Asia, as one theory posits in your story "Who Were the First Americans?" [March 13]. As a youngster I saw a picture of an Eskimo girl in a book, and my younger sister looked like her twin. When I flew into Buffalo, N.Y., on business, the cabdriver who picked me up thought I was from the Indian reservation up the river. When I was relocating my family from one Chicago suburb to another, a moving-company worker appeared to be Japanese American, so I asked him if his father might be someone I know. He said it wasn't likely because his family lives on an Indian reservation in Wisconsin. Those observations aren't science, but for me they are proof enough.
TOM MURA Las Vegas
There are theories that say cultures and nations began forming identities and differentiating themselves long before we previously believed they did. New evidence suggests that a coastal migration could have taken people from anywhere along the Pacific Rim, or the North African coast for that matter. The early adventurers who came to the Americas created the original melting pot. It's hard to imagine one particular race laying claim to the discovery of this place we call the Americas. We shouldn't even refer to the western hemisphere. A planet, after all, has no east or west.
DAVID A. CZUBA Bellingham, Wash.
Archaeologists are arguing for the legal right to study the bones, and Native Americans are insisting on their right to respectfully bury them. Which takes precedence, scientific research or religious sensitivity? Can scientists delve into a lost past without defiling sacred remains? Both groups' respect for the past can be a springboard for compromise. Surely there is a means by which scientists can study the remains of Kennewick Man that the tribes agree is respectful. All remains and relics can then be honored in a way Native Americans see fit.
JESSICA DANCY Macomb, Mich.
Your story quoted Native American tribal coordinator Rochanne Downs: "We know where we came from. Our people were made from mud, and then the tribes were sent out." There is very little difference between her belief and the creation of Adam in Genesis. Even scientists ill disposed toward spirituality have to consider that life arose from inorganic matter (i.e., mud, dust).
STEPHEN VERRY Vancouver, B.C.
"One Life Inside Gitmo" [March 13] reported that Mohammed al-Qahtani, the Saudi accused of being the so-called 20th hijacker on 9/11, was coerced into confessing his ties to al-Qaeda. When we obtain information from prisoners by denying them basic human rights, then we are no better than the very organizations we are fighting. Against whom will the abusive interrogation techniques be used next--hardened criminals, drug dealers and political activists?
GILBERT LARAQUE Miami