|Either Kennewick Man|
or Patrick Stewart
Suit was brought. (This is America!) The Umatilla tribe wanted custody of the bones so they could bury them "according to tribal tradition." They did not mean the tribal traditions of the Ainu. Because their oral history "goes back 10,000 years" and says that "their people have been present on their historical territory since the dawn of time," the Umatilla claim that any finding that Kennewick Man is not Native American is detrimental to their religious beliefs. (This is actually a flat-out conflict between science and religion; yet it is seldom mentioned when the topic comes up...)
Besides, how would you like it if your ancestor were dug up and studied and deposited in a museum? Like Heidelberg Man or Java Man or Peking Man or Altamuro Man or the Red Lady of Paviland or... Hmm. Okay, old bones are frequently treated this way in Europe, Africa, China, or Egypt (though in Egypt they are often securely wrapped and we even know their names); but still...
They also tried to prevent the scientific study of the bones -- and the arrowhead embedded in the hip. According to Wikipedia, the Corps of Engineers, which holds ownership of the bones, continues to deny scientist's requests to conduct additional studies of the skeleton. TOF is unsure whether the Usual Suspects are on the side of science in this one.
Now comes another find pushing the date back:
New Evidence Puts Man In North America 50,000 Years AgoWhich is not only one helluva single sentence, but also may be "an inference too far." The evidence is actually that artifacts were found in sediments dug up with a backhoe that contained 50k-year old carbonized plant remnants. For all one knows, these were the remains of a primordial forest fire in which the artifacts much later wound up. Did Paleoindians not know how to dig a hole? The excavator (the scientist, not the backhoe) has built his reputation on pushing back the earliest humans in North America, so it's not like he's seeing what he wants to see, and the idea is in fact quite exciting, for those excitable about such things. TOF sometimes wishes these things were announced with a little more uncertainty. It's not mathematics, after all.
Radiocarbon tests of carbonized plant remains where artifacts were unearthed last May along the Savannah River in Allendale County by University of South Carolina archaeologist Dr. Albert Goodyear indicate that the sediments containing these artifacts are at least 50,000 years old, meaning that humans inhabited North American long before the last ice age.
Putting modern humans in North America at about the same time they were in Central Asia (50,000 ybp) and before they were in Europe (40,000 ybp) indicates a fleetness of foot on the part of Early Man that is remarkable. If this keeps up, we may learn that H. erectus made it here, too!