Letters to the Editor

If the judge allows for continued scientific review of the so-called Kennewick Man, we all lose. It's understandable that former archeologist Kate Niles would only see value in further desecration, as stated in the commentary "Burying the Past," in the July 12 edition of The Inlander. Lets face it, whatever you call him, the Kennewick Man represents one of the oldest, most complete and best preserved skeletons found on the continent. His appearance is second only to two mummified corpses located in a Nevada repository. To most scientists, the Native Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) is a stumbling block.

Dr. Gentry Steele, a professor at Texas A & amp;M, is our nation's leading specialist in ancient remains, or Paleoindians, and one of the scientists involved in the lawsuit against returning the skeleton. In a Feb. 17, 1997, article in Indian Country Today, Steele was quoted saying, "I think [NAGPRA] does apply, and I think the remains should be repatriated."

As the reporter who wrote that story, I can tell you that the quote came when I called back to confirm my overview of our discussion on Paleoindians. Steele did clarify that the remains should only be returned after scientists had determined which tribe to give them to, and that required more study.

Scientific studies have been done. Steele has determined that initial measurements show that the remains could be the ancestral model of North American Indians and some South American Indians as well. Additionally, a first round of DNA studies has been completed. The results have not been publicly released.

I can only imagine how I would feel if someone were to desecrate the graves of my son or father. Even Niles admits that scientists need ethical codes in light of the historic mistreatment of native remains.

For traditional Native Americans, the concept of "extended family" reaches far beyond that held in Western philosophy. Oral histories stretch back 6,000 to 10,000 years. Some tribal stories include what scientists confirm can only be "eyewitness accounts" in the formation of mountains and rivers.

In accordance with diverse cultures and traditions, Native American spirituality includes an ongoing cycle of spiritual journey within all that is natural. Traditional cultural values view medical studies as a disruption in that journey.

Since the beginning of this lawsuit, four native nations, whose traditional homelands encircle the area where the remains were found, have joined to fight for return of the old man. One lone nation favors scientific study.

If the remains are returned to the tribes without further study, then there is hope that NAGPRA may help in battling the centuries-old tradition of desecrating native graves. If further study is allowed, then NAGPRA is a useless document that only wastes time and money in its creation and continued struggle for implementation.

If scientists are allowed to continue study of the ancient one, at the expense of social science, we all lose.

Danyelle Robinson

Spokane, Wash.

After many rejections from radio stations and newspapers, Bend, Ore., residents Jeff and Tracy were able to place a full-page ad in the Willamette Week newspaper of Portland (on June 27) stating that they are good neighbors, responsible people and smoke pot.

In their ad, they are trying to show that a pot smoker is not necessarily the scourge of society or in need of medical intervention.

Jeff and Tracy were interviewed by one of the local Portland radio stations, have a Web site (www.jeffandtracy.com) and are asking for e-mail comments.

After all, if America's favorite scientist, the late Dr. Carl Sagan, enjoyed smoking marijuana as an adjunct to studying science, appreciating art and enjoying music, maybe it is time to reconsider the government's inquisitionist view of the 70 million American adults who have smoked pot.

Jack Satkoski

Sandpoint, Idaho

Once again an ill-informed member of the fourth estate makes an appearance as part of the problem regarding the global warming debate. Cartoonist and graduate of the Grangeville Idaho College of Journalism shows us that it does not require intelligence and/or critical thinking to get your work published.

A recent cartoon by Mr. Tom Tomorrow in The Inlander attempts to portray President George W. Bush as a buffoon. Mr. T states that, "the vast majority of scientists agree" that there is global warming (undoubtedly caused by mankind). And of course Bush being the buffoon that he is finds no cause for alarm.

This statement Mr. Tomorrow makes in cartoon form is absurd and TOTALLY FALSE. Only about 50 percent of the world's scientists whose task is to study the possibility of global warming agree regarding its existence. The remaining 50 percent are convinced that global warming is a recurring phenomenon that has been around since the Big Bang.

Instead of following in the shadow of other political cartoonists and journalists who have not done their homework, Mr. T should use critical thinking and a computer to do his own research.

Greg Bayes

Spokane, Wash.

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