Kennewick Man

Kennewick Man was studied using DNA testing by scientist's as reported by National Geographic in a 2015 article.  In a previous article which is now missing it linked Kennewick Man to possible Jomon connections.  This is no longer current as the DNA study showed that the eight thousand five hundred year old remains were definitely linked closest to the present day Colville tribe living in the region.  What does this prove? And where are the findings linked to skeletal morphology? 

There is no doubt that skeletal studies even cursory ones suggested a skull that was seen as "European" possibly a nineteenth century settler.  When it was proven that the remains were from the distant past as compared to one hundred years ago the theory that the remains were somehow connected to the Jomon was introduced.  Theories of seafaring around the Pacific Rim began to emerge as possible routes of migration.  Does this DNA test prove that this is not a possibility now?  I mention Kennewick Man in light of these new findings to not leave the story as if he were a Jomon relative which he is not.  However, there are so many blank spaces in the archaeology of skeletons from that distant time that nothing can remain conclusive, and new finds can overturn previous findings overnight. 

Despite these new DNA findings the bust of Kennewick man re-created from his skull still shows him as a Jomon/Ainoid individual which is misleading.  I looked into this story before as it had possible connections with the Emishi, but this was nothing more than a news story in archaeology.  This is not to downplay the discovery about the longevity of the Colville tribe in the region, but in terms of any connections with the Jomon there are none.

What then needs explanation is how the remains were interpreted.  Why, for example, were the remains even thought to be those of a possible European settler or those of a Jomon/Ainu of Japan?  Skeletal morphology pointed the skull to being outside the range of most Native Americans.  What does this mean? It means that when the skull is looked at and examined the individual's eye socket was deeper than what is typically seen among Native Americans, and in terms of Japanese archaeology outside the characteristics of most Japanese who supplanted the Jomon. Deep seated eyes and heavy brows are generally seen as being a European, or in Japan, a Jomon characteristic.  From there it was relatively simple to speculate that given the age of the individual it could not be European, and thus possibly Jomon, especially since the Jomon were at this time living in Japan.  It took only one more theory that some Jomon ancestors were a sea-faring people to try and explain this individual's location in Washington state. 

The latter theory could one day become true since taking a boat from Japan up the coast would lead to Kamchatka, and from there crossing the Bering Strait would lead to more land in Alaska and then southward to British Columbia and Washington state.  It is a long journey, but with a land hugging coastal route being taken it is in the realm of possibility.  It's hard to predict but it would not be a surprise at all if evidence turns up for such a journey.  The abundance of marine life would sustain the individuals making this journey.  

However, in this Kennewick Man story this did not happen with him or his group.  This man with unusually deep set eyes for being Native American is from the Colville area and related to those who live there still.   

 Kenjiro 2019.4.6