Friends of America's Past

The Spirit Cave Man | Events

The Spirit Cave Man Lawsuit

NEWS: The Court has remanded the matter back to the Bureau of Land Management for further proceedings. See Order (posted 9/25/06)

-- The text of the Conclusion

In July 2000 the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) issued a determination that the Spirit Cave Man could not be culturally linked to the claiming Fallon-Paiute Shoshone tribe. The tribe filed a lawsuit asking the Federal Court to review their claim under NAGPRA.

In their determination, the BLM assumed that the Spirit Cave Man was Native American based solely on his age. In the Kennewick Man lawsuit, the Ninth Circuit found that relying on age alone was insufficient to establish remains as Native American for the purposes of NAGPRA. The Ninth Circuit Court's opinion in the Kennewick Man lawsuit applies to the Spirit Cave Man lawsuit.

Five "friends of the court" (amicus curiae) briefs were filed in support of the BLM's determination. Raising the Kennewick Man opinion as precedent, Friends of America's Past reminded the court that NAGPRA's first requirement is to determine if remains are Native American as defined in the statute. The other briefs discussed the limits of oral tradition and linguistics as evidence, archeological interests, and the concerns of ethnic miniorities.

A statement released for the press

A preliminary comparison of the Spirit Cave Man and the Kennewick Man. This table will be updated after scientists bringing a range of perspectives have been allowed to study.

Questions & Answers about the Spirit Cave Man

Pictures of the Spirit Cave man: the original burial bundle and facial reconstruction using casts of the cranium [posted with permission from Dr. Douglas Owsley and photographer Chip Clark, Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History]

Key Documents

New documents added to the top of the list when filed.

Court Order remands the matter back to Bureau of Land Management for further proceedings consistent with the Order (filed 9/21/06)

Government's (BLM) Reply to Tribes Response Brief (filed 4/11/06)

Tribe's Response to Government's (BLM) Reply Brief (filed 1/31/06)

Amicus Brief: National Congress of American Indians (filed 01/31/06)

Government's (BLM) Reply Brief (filed 11/17/05)

Amicus Brief: Friends of America's Past (filed 10/28/05)

Amicus Brief: Oral Tradition (filed 10/28/05)

Amicus Brief: Linguistics (filed 10/28/05)

Amicus Brief: Ohio Archeological Council (filed 10/28/05)

Amicus Brief: Ethnic Minority Council (filed 10/27/05)

Tribe's Opening Brief: part 1, 2, 3, 4 (filed 9/2/05)

Government's (BLM) Answer (filed 12/17/04)

Tribe's Complaint (filed 8/27/04)

BLM Determination Spirit Cave Man (full text) (7/26/00)

BLM Summary of the Determination Spirit Cave Man (7/26/00)

BLM Press Release: Determination Spirit Cave Man (8/15/00)