Science vs. Spiritualism

Analyzes the controversy over DNA testing of Native American remains for the sake of scientific knowledge.

This paper analyzes the controversy over DNA testing. The author uses the very recent case of Kennewick Man, the 9,300 year old remains, to discuss some of the issues involved. While science can learn a great deal from studying such remains, Native Americans are opposed to such testing because they feel it violates their beliefs. They do not like the idea of scientists studying and classifying remains, as they feel such studies are often racially motivated and damages their chances of reclaiming artifacts under the North American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act of 1990. While the Kennewick Man case ended up in court, DNA testing proceeded and failed to uncover any conclusive results, resulting in the return of the artifacts to five Native American tribes. Cases such as Kennewick Man and a similar aborigine case in Australia have no easy answers; however, non-destructive testing may allow for less invasive treatment of human remains. In any case, the decision to test remains should be left to Native American descendants, not government committee.

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