On February 25, the remains of "Kennewick Man" begin to get their long-delayed scientific going-over at Seattle's Burke Museum.
Park Service archeologist Frank McManamon, who designed the examination plan approved by the Federal judge in charge of the controversial remains, has assembled a top-flight examination team, including Burke archeology curator Julie Stein, University of Arkansas osteologist (bone expert) Jerome Rose, WSU geologist Gary Huckleberry (who studied the K-Man site back in December '97), and, to check out the chip of rock embedded in the skeleton's pelvis, Portland stone-tool expert John Fagan.
Biggest coup: the recruitment of Joseph Powell of the University of New Mexico, who has studied and measured just about every ancient (8000 years or older) set of bones ever found in this hemisphere.
Absent from the line-up: any of the eight scientists who filed suit to force the examination of the bones in the first place (though Powell's mentor D. Gentry Steele of Texas A&M is among their number). But considering that they have raised vehement objections to McManamon's plan for study at every step, there's probably no way any of the plaintiffs could in conscience consider themselves dispassionate observers. The team, under the supervision of Corp of Engineers archeologist Michael Trimble, hopes to answer the first question facing it in a week to 10 days: Can enough be learned from surface examination of the remains to determine if they're ancestral to any present-day Native American group? If not, the next step will be more delicate and time-consuming: "destructive testing" like radiocarbon dating and DNA analysis, which many Indians consider blasphemous and against their traditions.