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Always something New to discover in our national forests

You just never know what you’ll discover when exploring a national forest. I remember years ago, while researching the national forests in Arkansas, Fred and I discovered some petroglyphs on a wall under a rock ledge. (Actual size of the image was about that of a Barbie doll.) We felt like Columbus discovering America. We later learned site is a fairly well-known spot but that didn’t dissipate our delight. So we could imagine how the workers on Prince of Wales conducting a timber sale evaluation must have felt when the discovered an “innocuous little tube” containing ancient human remains. (My preference would be for cave art but . . .)

That “innocuous little tub” has been named On Your Knees Cave and that discovery was made back in 1990. It has been determined those remains are 10,300 years old, representing the oldest human remains ever found in Alaska or Canada. As exciting as the discoverywas, perhaps more exciting is that Kuwootyas.ein (His Spirit is Looking out from the Cave) was returned the Native People.

Why is this so noteworthy? In 1996 the Kennewick Man was discovered along the shores of the Columbia River in Washington. This nearly complete skeleton was determined to be about 8,700 years old. But because the tribes who claimed ancestry had been “displaced” in historic times, and because there was no direct scientific evidence to proved the Kennewick Man’s Native American origin, the courts ruled the remains would not be conveyed to the tribes claiming to be his descents.

I don’t know, and probably wouldn’t understand, all the technical and legal stuff involved in returning Kuwootyas.ein to his descents but find the whole thing very exciting. It also illustrates there is a lot more to discover in our national forests just great views and a patch of perfect blueberries. (The more time I spend in our national forests the more amazed I am at all the possibilities to be found there.)

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Fred and Suzi Dow