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Native Americans might not be all that native after all

July 01, 1997

As they say in the Mikado, here's a state of things.

According to an article in the June 16 New Yorker, in what looks to stand political correctness on its ear, our Native Americans might not be all that native after all.

The story states that caucasoids might have been here first, only to be shoved out by what have become known as the Indians.

Of course this isn't to say that what the Europeans did to the now-known-as-Native Americans was in any way civil, but it appears the Indians may have been involved in a little pushing and shoving of their own.

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This theory is proposed in an article by Douglas Preston which discusses the "Kennewick Man" a purportedly white dude whose skeleton had the bad grace to wash up on the banks of the Columbia River in the state of Washington.

Along with being caucasoid, the fellow, or ex-fellow also happened to be about 10,000 years old, which predates all the comparatively modern Indian tribes.

"...It does raise and interesting question," Preston writes. "If the original inhabitants of the New World were Europeans who were pushed out by Indians, would it change the Indian's position in the great moral landscape?"

Probably not, although the article does bring up the interesting point that the race is a relatively modern phenomenon.

If you go back far enough, everyone was basically the same.

But along with race, of course, comes politics. At the insistence of western Indian tribes, the Kennewick skeleton is being withheld from scientists by the Army Corps of engineers. They object to Indian bones being subject to insensitive testing - although in this case it appears the bones don't belong to any known tribe.

Kennewick Man makes it look as if European types were kicking up their heels across the fruited plane long before Indian tribes made their way across Alaska in what is known by anthropologists as the "Beringiam Walk Paradigm." (I love that term. It makes me wonder whether George Washington engaged in the "Crossing the Delaware Paradigm," or Neil Armstrong in the "Walking on the Moon Paradigm)."

Anyway, based on preliminary studies and plaster casts made before the government got its paws on the skeleton researchers believe Kennewick Man looks amazingly like - are you ready - Patrick Stewart, the actor who plays Captain Picard on Star Trek.

Well.

So does this have any effect on Hagerstown? I believe that it might. It could turn out the city was founded not by Jonathan Hager, but by Jean-Luc Picard.

Speaking of Hagerstown and extra terrestrials, I've been a little naughty on the Internet lately. There's been so much talk in those paranoid conspiracy chatrooms about the Roswell, New Mexico incident I thought it might be fun the plant the question "How come no one ever talks about the Hagerstown incident?"

I brought up the fact that Fairchild, a big warplanes producer, left in a big hurry and how we just happen to be so close to Site R and Camp David and I even worked in Danny Casalaro and the Octopus.

I thought it might be, you know, good for tourism.

My colleague Brendan Kirby calculated it would land about 30,000 visitors a year. We could have tied it into the Civil War. Come see Antietam and look at the signs at Camp David on Catoctin Mountain that say "Government Area 3; Keep Out."

As easy as it is to light conspiracy theories on the Internet I figured this would be a shoe-in.

But no one cared.

I would have gotten more response out of the Kennewick Man.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist.

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