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The Kennewick Man Case | Court Documents | Affidavits & Declarations

Declaration of Michael K. Trimble, Ph.D.

Lois J. Schiffer
Assistant Attorney General

Allison Rumsey
US Department of Justice
Environment & Natural Resources Div.
Office of the Assistant Attorney General
950 Penn. Ave., N.W., Room 2740
Washington, D.C.

Kristine Olson
United States Attorney
Timothy Simmons
Assistant United States Attorney
District of Oregon
1000 SW 3rd Ave., Ste 600
Portland, Oregon 97204-2902
(503) 727-1156
(503) 727-1117


ROBSON BONNICHES, et al., Plaintiffs


UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, et al., Defendants

Declaration of Michael K. Trimble, Ph.D.

I, Michael K. Trimble, Ph.D,. declare as follows:

1. I am currently employed as the Chief of the Curation and Archives Analysis Branch within the Engineering Division of the U.S. Army Engineer District, St. Louis, and Director of the Corps of Engineers' Mandatory Center of Expertise for the Curation and Management of Archaeological Colleciotns ("MCX-CMAC"). I have previously submitted declarations in this case. The declaration submitted by me on May 27, 1998, includes my resume with details of my education and experience along with a description of the responsibilities of the MCX-CMAC.

2. Plaintiffs indicate at page 5 of their Response to Motion for Extension (herein Response) that they do not understand why their study cannot be carried out at the same time that administrative procedures are being met for the Count's March 24, 2000, requirements regarding DNA testing. cultural affiliation determinations, and study guidelines/policy. There are several answers to this question but one is preeminent. The need for planning and coordination, along with adequate time and knowledgeable staff, to continue the proper curation of the remains and to avoid damage to the remains is a fundamental concept of collections management and should be followed to maintain the proper lone-term care of the remains: In short, to subject the remains to multiple tasks will cause irrevocable damage.

3. A curatorial, conservation, and archives staff is currently assigned to meeting the requirements of the Court's March 24 timeframes. Four staff members--chief curator, collections manager, physical anthropologist, archivist-from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (CE) Mandatory Center of Expertise for the Curation and Management of Archaeological Collections have and will continue to work to meet all curatorial requirements of this deadline.

4. Additionally, the curatorial team has been assisted by two professional and fully qualified conservators of archaeological materials whose advice has been centered on the examination, handling, housing, and conservation of the remains since September 1998. They are intimately familiar with the remains. This team has ensured a level of care for the remains that is of the highest caliber.

5. This team is diligently pursuing its responsibilities to ensure the best care for the remains and the associated records. This ream also will assist at the curatorial and conservation level with the final DNA testing (if any), which may be conducted in the next six months.

6. It is my professional opinion that should any request for study be granted at this time, it will come at great and irreversible curatorial cost to the remains. Simply put, we cannot carry out all the curatorial and archives duties associated with the March 24 deadline, any DNA study, and the study-as well as our normal monitoring of the collections--without comprising the current integrity of the remains.

7. In addition, there is not enough time from today until March ?4, 2000, to generate all the appropriate protocols-at the curatorial, conservation, DNA, and study level--to assure that this set of fragile remains will continue to be stable.

8. The need to prepare and evaluate four separate procedures (i.e., to support the March 24 determinations, the DNA testing, Plaintiffs' study, and normal curation duties) in a short time Frame increases the possibility that otherwise preventable errors may result in damage to the remains--precisely the situation that both parties want to avoid (see Leckie September 11, 1997, pages. 1-11).

9. Finally, as a matter of professional responsibility and customary practice, if these remains were part of an institution's holdings in any part of this country the chief curator responsible for their care would not contemplate simultaneous actions such as those mentioned here. He/she would decide on the scheduling of ail studies in a fashion that would ensure that the curatonal staff was not overburdened and, most importantly, that the collection was not compromised or damaged.

10. The Plaintiffs' criticisms of the curation team and of the conservator Dr. Vicki Cassman (pg. 10, lines 13-18, Response) is not properly representative of her actions and shows their misunderstanding of her participation in the extraction of the 14C sample. During the 14C sampling, Dr. Cassman served as a conservator as part of the general preservation process to advise on any action that would affect the preservation of the remains. Her role was to minimize any damage to the remains. Sample size and the three bones selected for sampling were not her decision. She documented the condition of the chosen bones and evaluated how to reduce handling, vibrations, and the likelihood of the bone shattering during cutting. Dr. Cassman presented this advice to the team, including both Dr. McManamon and the undersigned.

11. There is no significant ongoing deterioration of the bone as indicated by condition assessments. The interpretation of substantial conditional changes by the Plaintiffs is incorrect. The specialized housings provide long-term preservation, prevent further damage, and provide support with minimal direct handling. Handling causes the greatest damage to fragile bone. Recent research by the University of Bradford indicates that the greatest damage to osteological teaching collections occurs from direct handling and the specialized housings have been designed to minimize such damage to the remains.

12. Preservation professionals also understand that the use of consolidants or adhesives is to be avoided on archaeological human remains. The current method of stabilizing the Kennewick remains through custom housings offers more appropriate protection than intervention treatments and does not permanently alter the bone.

13. There were no significant changes to the bones of the innominate. The conditional change from none to severe that was noted for the innominate is an example of inconsistent data field entry (typographic errors), as reported in the biannual condition assessment report, and has been corrected.

14. The Joint Memorandum of Agreement Regarding Transfer of the Remains to the Burke Museum (September 2, 1998) identifies the recommendations of Ms. Carolyn Leckie concerning a Preservation Plan for the transfer of the remains. The five points that are made include the following. 1. A long- and short-term preservation plan will be prepared. 2. The primary objective of the plan and associated conservation practices will be to stabilize the remains and institute protocols that will prevent damage and deterioration to the remains. 3. Treatments to the remains will be avoided unless applicable to the preservation of the remains. 4. This plan will be prepared and conducted by conservator Madeline Fang or Nancy Odegaard. 5. An acclimatization plan will be developed in accordance with the recommendations of conservator Madeline Fang or Nancy Odegaard.

15. During the transfer, the curatorial team prepared and conducted a short-term preservation plan that included protocols for the assessment of condition; requirements for transport related to security, respect, packing, vibration, and temperature and humidity controls; and outgoing and incoming condition checks.

16. Since the transfer, the curatorial team has utilized a long-term preservation plan that includes curation, collections management, and conservation. Preservation planning usually focuses on two categories: (1) preventing deterioration and (2) remedial preservation to correct physical or chemical deterioration. Consulting conservators have been included in all activities since the transfer. The condition assessments have produced reliable data, the acclimatization plan and environmental surveys have recorded temperature and relative humidity and have provided a profile of their fluctuations, and various systems have been implemented to prevent damage though storage, handling, disaster, and theft. Specifically, they have identified techniques to stabilize the remains through specialized housings and supports, suggested handling protocols that have been implemented to minimize damage and deterioration to the remains, and offered observational and handling assistance during examination, documentation, sampling and analysis activities. The plan also included assessment and action to assure preservation of the photographic materials, the paper documentation representing the administrative record, and other associated artifacts.

17. The preservation plan has adapted to respond to the changing study requirements of the remains. In a museum, a preservation plan might refer to policy and procedures that would impact repeatable events such as loans, access, and handling conditions. However, in the case of the remains known as Kennewick man there have not been repeatable events--the actions have been unique. The conservators and curators have had to react and respond to the requirements of each event as part of the preservation plan, specifically the design of custom storage housings, non-intrusive wraps to stabilize individual pieces, storage containers for photographic and paper materials, storage cabinetry, and environmental conditions. Assistance to researchers during the pre-transfer examinations, labeling, study, radiography, CT scans, photography, sampling for soils, sampling for 14C dating were provided with the purpose of maintaining the existing condition of the remains as extensive handling and manipulation took place. Because of the changing nature of the requirements for the remains, we have used a series of action plans, all of which are outgrowths of principles outlined in 1.C. in the Joint MOA signed on 30 September 1998. The action plans and results have been provided to the plaintiffs in the quarterly reports. 18 In conclusion, the remains are well housed, secure, and as stable as any fragile human remains can be. Continued handling will damage them, and we have always reported this in our memorandums for record filed with the court.

19. Regarding Plaintiffs' estimate of total catalog numbers for the skeleton of "approximately 350." The Master Catalog shows there are 330 unique catalog numbers assigned to CENWW.97.KENNEWICK, CENWW.97A.KENNEWICK, and CENWW.97B.KENNEWICK collections, which were all verified by Dr. Owsley in October 1998. The majority of these catalog numbers are associated with the Kennewick remains; the remainder are associated with faunal remains.

20. The Color descriptions refer to descriptive information. Munsell soil color charts are Frequently used by archaeologists to describe color on archaeological finds. The soil chart includes 322 color chips on nine charts with seven hues of yellow-red. When most accurately used, the Munsell chips are compared to samples in a special light box so that the reference point for the color assignment may be qualified and reproduced. Munsell color chins are squares of solid matte color identified by hue/value/chroma. Aside From lighting, the difficulty in applying Munsell color numbers to the Kennewick bone material is that the green (mottled algae stains) sequence is not available in the soil chart and that the colors noted on the bone are mottled and not solid fields of color. Using the Musell sell color chart to document mottled color on bone is an inappropriate use of the soil chart.

21. The condition assessment database does have a field for staining, which was used to indicate general darkening or bleaching relative to the majority of the bone. Further discussion of color or staining is noted in the Other Comments field of the condition assessment database.

22. Unverifiable subjectivity in the use of commentary regarding color or staining in the bone was observed in the documents created by Drs. Chatters, Owsley, Powell, and Rose. The curatorial team has been able to agree among themselves on their observations of color. Color is not a critical value for the condition assessments in the short- or long-term preservation plans. To clarify, it is in the comments of the various physical anthropologists (Plaintiffs' included) where there is variation regarding color on the same bones. This is the unverifiable subjectivity that was referred to in the biannual condition assessment.

23. It is the preventive preservation category of the preservation plan that has prevented ongoing damage to the skull. The skull was carefully examined dining the biannual condition assessment due to specific concerns expressed by the Plaintiffs The skull is fragile, it is weak, and there are cracks. Its integrity has been compromised by the previous consolidation, reassembly, moldmaking, and handling activities. While there are minor differences between some of the crack measurements made by Dr. Chatters while the skull was in his care and measurements taken during the biannual condition assessment, these minor differences do not appear to have occurred between the time of the transfer to the Burke and the biannual condition assessment as they are noted in the pretransfer condition assessment made by Madeline Fang.

Pursuant to 28-U.S.C. 1746, I declare under pentalty of perjury that the foregoing is true and correct.

Executed February 17, 2000.

Michael K. Trimble (signed)

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