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Smithsonian Letter to Judge Jelderks

Department of the Army
Walla Walla District, Corps of Engineers
201 North Third Avenue
Walla Walla, Washington 99362-1876

August 6, 1997

Office of Counsel
Lauryn Guttenplan Grant
Assistant General Counsel
Room SI-302, MRC 012
Smithsonian Institution
Washington, D. C. 20560

Subject: Bonnichsen et. al., v. U.S., Civil No. 96-1481-JE

Dear Ms. Grant:

Thank you for your letter regarding the human remains which are the focus of this litigation. I appreciate your offer to provide scientific analysis of them without cost to us, however, I must decline.

We are still trying to obtain results of tests performed by others before we recovered the ancient human remains. As you can understand, I'm not inclined to authorize further study without a comprehensive examination and analysis of all existing data and materials. It wasn't clear from your letter whether the Smithsonian Institute is requesting or offering to review and provide analysis of the existing documentation. Clarification on this point would be appreciated.

Please note that two employees of your organization are party plaintiff's in the lawsuit against the United States: Dennis J. Stanford, Chairman of your Department of Anthropology; and Douglas W. Owsley, division head for physical anthropology at your National Museum of Natural History. As a consequence, participation by the Department of Anthropology in the National Museum of Natural History -- and certainly by these two individuals -- may be, or may give the appearance of, a conflict of interest. That naturally would be of concern if the Smithsonian were to conduct any work in this matter.

Thank you for your interest. I welcome any information pertinent to the administrative determination. If you desire additional information, Ms. Linda Kirts of my staff will be happy to assist. Her number is 509-527-7707.

Donald R. Curtis, Jr.
Lieutenant Colonel, Corps of Engineers
District Engineer

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