Thursday, November 11, 2004

Merlot and the Kennewick Man

Last night I went to a going away party for a co-worker.  She's moving on...leaving the big city of Lewiston and moving to small town USA, Elk River.  The bar was crowded, noisy and the waitress was in a bad mood.  Everyone from the office was there.  All eight of us.  Also in attendance was another former co-worker, Rachel (brat!) and her husband, Steve.

Having finished one glass of Merlot (on an empty stomach), I could feel the tension of the day slowly easing away. As I started on a second glass (thank you Rachel...if you are reading this), Rachel turned to me and asked me if I have ever heard of the Kennewick Man. 

Yes, I have.  Recently discovered in Kennewick, Washington.  Believed to be millions of years old (that was the Merlot talking).  Claimed by the local Native American Tribe to be one of their own.  Why? 

Do you know why the Tribe wants him so bad? 

Because they believe he's one of their ancestors.

No.  They want him because they want to hide him, to lock him away.  He's white.

Oh, really?  Hmmm.  Makes sense.  After all Alaska and Russia once formed a land bridge eons ago.  So, how do you know all this?

Long story short, rumor has it in the world of archaeology that Kennewick Man is indeed white.  If this is proven true, then American history, as we know it, will be turned upside down.  Those who are currently believed to be the first Americans, may not be.  Boy oh boy, I can just see all the text book publisher's wringing their hands in anticipation.  Not that they have ever relied on new developments to republish text books.  In my college days it seemed every text book I had to purchase was a new edition; there were rarely used ones available to save me a few bucks.

And so, it makes me wonder. What do we really know about ourselves...about our past?  Is history really etched in stone, or is it all arbitrary?  Is it fixed knowledge, or an unknown variable?  Constantly subject to change with every discovery.  I don't know.  Does it really matter?  Yes, I think so.  History, it is said, repeats itself.  And those who do not learn from the past, are destined to repeat it.

Maybe I need to switch to white wine.



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