and perhaps in quest of marine mammals.rnInstead of Siberians, they wouldrnhave been more akin to the people wernnow find in various parts of East Asia andrnPolynesia or—and this is a deeply controversialrnidea —in Western Europe. Onernexplosive theory suggests that the firstrnAmericans came from what is now Spainrnand France, bearing with them the kindrnof “Solutrean” culture which then prevailedrnin those regions, hi this model,rnsettlers would have coasted along thernfrozen shores of the North Atlantic viarnIceland and Greenland, entering thernNew World through I^abrador. Obviously,rnthe people we call “Indians” appearedrnat some point, but either they were onerngroup among many, or else they were laternarrials. Graduallv, they displaced orrn(more likely) assimilated the older populations,rnwhom we might call the truern”Nahve” Americans.rnContributing to the demolition of thernClovis model is a small but quite devastatingrnassemblage of anthropological evidence,rnin the form of ancient skeletons.rnThe most celebrated is the fairly completernskeleton of a man foimd at Kennewick,rnWashington, in 1996 and datedrnto around 9,000 years before the present,rnbut other important examples includernthe astonishing Spirit Cave mummy inrnUtah, which seems to have had brownish-rnred hair. None of the most ancientrnhuman remains in the Americas evenrnvaguely fits a Siberian pattern, nor do anyrnshow a resemblance to American Indians.rnThe oldest humans found in thernAmericas were characterized by longrnskulls and narrow faces.rnAt this point, we can see why the newrndiscoxeries are so troubling to AmericanrnIndians, and hence to American theoriesrnof race. For Indians, the sense that thcvrnhave always been here is fundamental torntheir whole belief system, and, often, religiousrnvalues: White Americans payrnhomage to this idea when we use thernterm “Native Americans.” In somernsense, Indians ob’iously have occupiedrnthe Americas far longer than the descendantsrnof the British or Germans or Italians,rnbut some Indian advocates take thisrn”native” idea to imconscionable extremes.rnA whole school of “Native Creationism”rnholds that Indian creationrnmyths are literally correct in asserting thatrnparticular tribes really did originate in thernareas of North America which theyrnclaimed, and that scientific stories of geologicalrnchange and human evoluHon arernjust another white man’s lie (though whyrnthe white man would have invented ancestralrnorigins in Africa remains unclear).rnThe best-known advocate of this radicalrnposition is Vine DeLoria, Jr., author of arnsilly farrago of misinformation and specialrnpleading entitled Red Earth, WhiternLies (1995). A milder form of the creationistrnidea holds that particular tribesrnhave “always been” more or less wherernthey first appear in the historical record,rnand that they have “always” veneratedrnparticular mountains, rivers, or naturalrnfeatures in that location. This autochthonousrnclaim is even made by tribes that wernknow perfeetiy well moved to their presentrnlocation relatively recently: ThernNavajo arrived in their southwesternrnhomeland around the time that Columbusrnwas setting sail, while the Lakota/rnSioux probably had not even seen thernBlack Hills of Dakota before the 19thrncentury. Nevertheless, modern activistsrnhold that the respective sacred landscapesrnreally have belonged to thoserntribes since time immemorial, and anyonernwho claims to the contrary is arndamned Indian-hater. We can imaginernthe distress with which Indians regardrnclaims that their ancestors were relativelyrnlate arrivals who undertook their ownrnparticular kind of ancient ethnic cleansing,rnand perhaps even displaced Europeanrnpredecessors.rnIndian rhetoric that “we have alwaysrnbeen here” has a strong appeal not justrnfor the usual liberal constituency, suffusedrnin Dances With Wolves sentimentality,rnbut also for any impartial shident ofrnAmerican history who can appreciaternthat Indians frequentiy have been treatedrnvery, very badly by white newcomers,rnsometimes to the point of diabolical savager)’.rnA substantial feeling of white guiltrnis understandable, and it has found expressionrnin federal laws designed to preventrna repetition of past atrocities. Thernproblem is that some of these well-intentionedrnlaws now create a critical conflictrnbetween the soundly attested findings ofrnobjective science and what we can onlyrncall “archaeological correctness.”rnThe most important measure in thisrnregard is the Native American GravesrnProtection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA)rnof 1990, which was designed to preventrnthe kind of ghoulish exploitation ofrnIndian skeletons which had been commonplacernin earlier decades. Under thernlaw, Indian bones which had long beenrngathering dust in various museums werernto be restored to their tribes of origin, andrnspecial obligations were laid upon archaeologistsrnwho might come upon suchrnremains. Any “Native American culturalrnitems” found on federal land were to bernrestored to “the lineal descendants of thernNative American,” or, where that couldrnnot be determined, to the tribe on whosernland these remains were found. In casesrnof controversy, a claim could be staked b}’rn”the Indian tribe that is recognized asrnaboriginally occupying the area in whichrnthe objects were discovered.” The lawrnthus institutionalizes not just one but arnwhole series of scholarly orthodoxiesrnwhich were already shaky in 1990 andrnhave now all but disintegrated: namely,rnthat any pre-Columbian material remainsrnare by definition American Indian;rnand, moreover, that particular tribes arern”aboriginal,” that the- have been in thatrnprecise area since time immemorial (or,rnas some would say, since the Creation).rnThe effect on the studv of ancient originsrnhas been catastrophic. Indian activistsrncan protest all they like at scholarlyrnconferences proposing new theories ofrnearly American settlement, but withrnNAGPRA behind them, fiiey can directlyrnaffect—or rather, sabotage—the course ofrnscientific discovery. The effect of NAGPRArnis evident from a series of cases inrnwhich scientists have been preventedrnfrom examining ancient bones whichrnclearly manifest non-Indian features; inrnsome cases, remains have been handedrnover to local tribes for clandestine reburialrnin places where they will never againrnbe polluted by the hands of white scholars.rnSuch concealment has been the faternof crucial remains from Minnesota,rnwhile the skeleton of the 11,000-year-oldrnBuhl Woman from Idaho was promptiyrnhanded over to the Shoshone-Bannockrntribe and is, in effect, lost forever to science.rnThe law has forbidden proper investigationrnof the Spirit Cave mummy:rnThe local Paiute tribe is demanding tiiatrnbody, too.rnThe present scholarly battleground isrnthe Kennewick skeleton, about whichrnmuch has already been learned, but thernprincipal finding is that (like the Buhlrnand Spirit Cave skeletons) it represents arnthoroughly non-Indian body type, l^espiternearly reports that the skull was Europeanrnin nature, the best evidence nowrnsuggests Polynesian parallels. Other obviousrnavenues of research suggest themselves,rnparticularly DNA testing, but therntime and opportunit)’ for study is strictiyrnlimited because of federal law. Thernskeleton is pre-Columbian; therefore, it isrnIndian; therefore, it belongs to the tribern42/CHRONICLESrnrnrn