Plaintiffs' Request for Immediate Response Re Study Request
AFFIDAVIT OF GEORGE W. GILL
Alan L. Schneider, OSB No. 68147
Paula A. Barran, OSB No. 80397
Attorneys for Defendant
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF OREGON
ROBSON BONNICHSEN, et al.,
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
CV No. 96-1481 JE
AFFIDAVIT OF GEORGE W. GILLI, George W. Gill, being first duly sworn, do depose and state as follows:
1. I am one of the plaintiffs in the above-entitled case.
2. My birthdate is June 28, 1941. I have been a member of the faculty of the Department of Anthropology, University of Wyoming, since 1971. Further details of my professional background are provided in my affidavit dated February 16, 1997 that was filed with the Court in support of Plaintiffs' Motion for Order Granting Access to Study.
3. I have devoted my career to the study of human skeletal variation and how such variation can be used to identify and explain differences between human populations. Over the course of my career, I have developed a database of measurements and observations on skeletal populations from east Polynesia, west Mexico, coastal Peru, native North America, Euro-American frontier outposts (pioneer era whites, African-Americans and Chinese) and numerous modern forensic contexts. Included in my database are measurements and observations on more than 695 recent and prehistoric North American native individuals, of which approximately 55 date from approximately 8,500 to 1,500 years before present. My research on the development and evolution of North American native peoples indicates that they were not a single homogenous biological population. My research also indicates that there was a major replacement of populations in the Northwest Plains at approximately 1,500 BP which was accompanied by dramatic shifts in patterns of subsistence and warfare. Other population replacements may have occurred elsewhere in North America at the same or at different times.
4. One aspect of my research on human skeletal variation is a comparative study of early New World skeletal remains to determine whether, and to what degree, they display characteristics considered indicative of modern racial groups. This study will be incomplete without data on the Kennewick Man skeleton. Among other things, such data are needed to determine the range of biological variation in early New World populations. Range of variation is a critical issue in biological studies such as mine because it underlies the resolution of all higher level issues. Until it has been determined, we cannot distinguish one population from another, separate the usual from the unusual, or determine the likely lines of development of different suites of characteristics. By comparing Kennewick Man to Wizard's Beach (approx. 9200 BP), Spirit Cave (approx. 9400 BP) and other early specimens, I will be better able to determine the range of variation that occurred in early New World populations.
5. Kennewick Man could be particularly important because he is reported to display a distinctive suite of generalized characteristics. One objective of my comparative study is to gain a better understanding of how and when modern racial characteristics developed. Although these questions have been widely debated in the scientific community for more than 150 years, their resolution has been hampered by a lack of adequate empirical data. If Kennewick Man does display generalized racial characteristics, he may be representative of the ancestral population (or one of the populations) from which modern east Asian, Native American and possibly Caucasoid races developed. If so, he would provide an important baseline for measuring biological developments in later populations.
6. The government's refusal to permit me access to the Kennewick Man skeleton also impacts my ability to generate new ideas and questions for research by myself and my students. Scientific research is more than just data collection and analyses. It is also a process of generating new questions to be investigated and developing new methods for testing possible solutions. New insights and ideas are not created in a vacuum. They are stimulated through the process of working with data and comparing results with other scientists. Until I have had an opportunity to study the Kennewick Man skeleton, I cannot benefit or learn from the ideas it might generate.
7. It is important that I be allowed to personally examine the skeleton. Although Dr. Powell is a fine scientist, he does not usually take the types of measurements or visual observations that I use in my research. Some of my most important measurements are taken with a special type of simometer that I developed and that is manufactured here at the University of Wyoming. Some of the techniques employed in the use of this instrument can be difficult for individuals not experienced with its use. Because of the potential importance of the Kennewick Man skeleton to my research, I should take these measurements myself.
8. My skeletal analyses also include the observation and recording of a battery of nonmetric traits. These are characteristics that are not determined metrically (i.e., in terms of precise length or width). Instead, they are scored on the basis of presence or absence and the degree of development. See description in my earlier affidavit. It is important that I personally make these observations on the Kennewick Man skeleton to ensure that they are consistent with the methods and standards that I have used for the other skeletons in my database.
9. In over thirty years of research, I cannot recall another instance in which I have been denied permission to study skeletal remains held in a federal collection. Some of the agencies that have allowed me to study their collections in the past include: Bureau of Land Management (Department of Interior); Bureau of Reclamation (Department of Interior); U.S. Forest Service (Department of Agriculture); U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The Wizard's Beach and Spirit Cave specimens referred to above in paragraph 4 are part of the Bureau of Land Management's collections in Nevada and were examined by me as recently as 14 months ago.
10. I find it difficult to understand why the government will not allow plaintiffs to study the Kennewick Man skeleton. If the government is truly interested in determining the skeleton's biological affinities, our participation would only improve the process and the results obtained. We and our colleagues can add a wider range of perspectives, and would bring to the task a much more comprehensive base of comparative data. My database alone contains measurements and observations on more than 1350 prehistoric North American, Polynesian, Peruvian and West Mexican skeletons. Many of these are not found in other databases. It is my understanding that the databases used by Drs. Brace, Jantz and Turner also contain samples not found elsewhere. To exclude the use of our resources and expertise would certainly not be good science.
DATED this 14th day of July, 1999.
SUBSCRIBED and SWORN to before me this 14th day of July, 1999.
Return to Affidavits & Declarations