as some would say, since the Creation).rnThe effect on the study of ancient originsrnhas been catastrophic. Indian activistsrncan protest all they like at scholarlyrnconferences proposing new theories ofrnearly American settlement, but withrnNAGPRA behind them, they can directlyrnaffect—or rather, sabotage —therncourse of scientific discovery. The effectrnof NAGPRA is evident from a series ofrncases in which scientists have been preventedrnfrom examining ancient bonesrnwhich clearly manifest non-hidian features;rnin some cases, remains have beenrnhanded over to local tribes for clandestinernreburial in places where they willrnnever again be polluted by the hands ofrnwhite scholars. Such concealment hasrnbeen the fate of crucial remains fromrnMiniresota, while the skeleton of thern11,000-year-old Buhl Woman from Idahornwas promptly handed over to thernShoshone-Bannock tribe and is, in effect,rnlost forever to science. The law has forbiddenrnproper investigation of the SpiritrnCave mummy: The local Paiute tribe isrndemanding that body, too.rnThe present scholarly battleground isrnthe Kennewick skeleton, about whichrnmuch has already been learned, but thernprincipal finding is that (like the Buhlrnand Spirit Gave skeletons) it represents arnthoroughly non-Indian body type. Despiternearly 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 opportunity for study is strictlyrnlimited because of federal law. Thernskeleton is pre-Columbian; therefore, it isrnIndian; therefore, it belongs to the tribernthat has “always” occupied that region —rnor at least, that has been there in historicrntimes. Despite all evidence to the contrary,rnif Kennewick Man died on whatrneventually became lands of a particularrntribe, he must have been an ancestor ofrnthat tribe.rnThe Kennewick saga is depressing inrnthe extreme. Within weeks of the skeleton’srndiscovery, it was in the custody ofrnthe Army Corps of Engineers, whichrnmade it clear that, as in all such cases, itrnwas going to return the bones forthwith tornits proper and natural owners —thernneighboring Indian tribes. The Corpsrnwas preented only by the legal interventionrnof archaeologists, supported by arnquirky body of Nordic racial theoristsrncalled the Asatru Folk Assembly, whornclaimed Kennewick Man as a relative.rnMeanwhile, intimidated by NAGPRA,rnneither the Corps nor the Department ofrnthe Interior did anything with the bones:rnGod forbid they should undertake anyrnkind of research.rnThe battle over “Mr. Kennewick” hasrnsince worked its way through the courtsrnand the federal bureaucracy; at everyrnstage, officialdom has made no secret ofrnits desire to give the bones back to theirrnputative Indian owners. In the process,rnthe U.S. Army has pulled such amazingrnstunts as burying the site with dirt andrnboulders and planting trees over the area,rnin effect wantonly destroying a crucial archaeologicalrnmonument and making itrnimpossible to deduce anything about thernskeleton’s context. Supposedly, it was operatingrnin response to “concern” from thernWhite House, which normally does notrnexpress such passion about technical disputesrnin the realm of archaeology. Otherrnportions of the skeleton have alreadyrnbeen “lost,” which, in terms of its historicalrnimportance, is akin to “misplacing” arncopy of the Declaration of Independence.rnAt the start of this year, the JusticernDepartment determined that KennewickrnMan was a Native American, on therngrounds of his age: The bones were 9,000rnyears old, a date which somehow “eliminatedrntheories” that he could be eitherrnAsian or European. Since only Indiansrnwere here at that point, the bones werernIndian, Q.E.D. At the time of this writing,rnthe disposal of the bones remains unclear,rnbut we should expect the worst.rnWe can also wonder whether federal authoritiesrnwill permit any future embarrassmentsrnof this sort, so that comparablernfinds over the next few years are likely tornbe, literally and figuratively, buried immediately.rnNobody is suggesting a return to therndays when Indian remains were displayedrnfor paying customers to the horrorrnof local Indian tribes, who rightly sawrnsuch acts as desecration. But for all itsrngood intentions, NAGPRA has become arndeeply dangerous law, a warrant for obscurantismrnand vandalism —in short, arnpublic scandal. If even the Kennewickrndisaster does not force us to change thernlaw, we might as well give up any hopernfor studying the archaeology of the Americasrnand just do what the federal governmentrndoes: rely uncritically on Indianrncreation myths.rnPhilip ]enkins is Distinguished Professorrnof History and ReHgious Studies atrnPennsylvania State Universit}’.rnPHILOSOPHYrnThe Anti-Philosophyrnof Richard Rortyrnby Paul R. SchollernOn the bookstore magazine rackrnwere several copies of Dissent.rnThe cover piqued my interest because itrnadvertised an article by Richard Rort)’, anrnacademic philosopher and a professor ofrnmine at Princeton in 1977.rnRorty’s contribution to Dissent, part ofrna multi-author retrospective on the impeachmentrnof President Clinton appearingrnin the Spring 1999 edition, is entitledrn”Saved From Hypocrisy.” Its thesis is thatrnthe public indifference to the Presidenf srnsex life has had the beneficial effect ofrnhurting the political fortunes of social-issuernconservatives (“the hypocrites of thernChristian Right”). Now, he writes, thernonly impediment to a just and compassionaternsociety are the economic conservativesrn(“greedheads”) who will henceforthrngain ascendancy in the RepublicanrnParty. But the “greedheads,” at least, arernfree from hypocrisy: “[T]hey are not tryingrnto reduce politics to a battle betweenrnthe pure and the impure.”rnIt took grit to read Rorty’s stieam of invectivernagainst socially conservative Republicansrn(among whom I count myself).rnBut even more difficult to stomach wasrnthe spectacle of a “philosopher” of apparentlyrnpowerful intellect and wit stoopingrnto the grossest level of leftist ad hominem.rnTwo decades ago at Princeton, Rortyrnwas held in high esteem for his intelligencernand self-effacing humor. A friendrntold me that I should sign up for Rorty’srnclass because he was both smart and funny.rnIndeed, his great popularity as a lecturerrnowed much to his ability to keeprnstudents amused for the better part of 50rnminutes.rnLike most of his students, I did findrnhim amusing. While suffering fromrnmononucleosis and strep throat, I evenrnwent AWOL from the campus infirmaryrnso I would not miss his final lecture of thernterm. A typical college freshman, I wasrnstruggling with profound questions of beliefrnNaively, perhaps, I had a habit ofrnsigning up for philosophy and religionrncourses in the search for Truth. As Pro-rnAPRIL 2000/45rnrnrn