Some critical of government-sponsored Kennewick studies

After my post last week (The Kennewick Science Show) I received an e-mail from Cleone Hawkinson, president of Friends of America's Past. She kindly has given me permission to post her remarks, as an alternative view of the current studies on the specimen:

I read with interest your views on your weblog, and was frankly amazed that you could have missed (ignored, overlooked?) the key element missing from the reports of the government studies: their studies were presented as fact although no scientist was given an opportunity to peer-review the reports. As a scientist are you willing accept all scientific conclusions the government handed out in 1999 with the full intention of denying any further scientists access to verify the conclusions? This was the case in 1999 when the DOI/Army Corps were conducting their studies and the lawsuit was waiting resolution. Thankfully two courts agreed that more study was warranted and that peer review was a basic element of scientific method.
Let me give you one example: One especially grand conclusion was that K-man was likely formally buried - the reason? - because all of his bones were intact. Perhaps you are aware of fully intact skeletons of dinosaurs (and a myriad of other paleontological examples of animals) that have been recovered that could not have been formally buried. However this was a stated conclusion in the Rose/Powell report. You buy it? They didn't establish this through any factual investigation, they simply assumed it.
I spent the full time in the lab during the government studies as the plaintiffs' observer in 1999. I also spent the full time in the lab assisting the scientists during the 10-day study that ended last week. I can tell you first hand where the full and open enquiry was: The plaintiff scientists were conducting a taphonomic study as the first step to a series of studies. The government did not conduct anything near this indepth study, and in fact only invited Walker/Larsen to do a brief 'taphonomic' study in 2000 to choose samples for DNA - this was after the earlier scientists had removed soil samples from various elements in 1999. Walker/Larsen devised a simplistic 5 color coding method and spent, according to my notes an average of 1.5 minutes per box observing variations. They did not have the benefit of looking at the entire skeleton as a whole, laid out in anatomical position. I ask you, as a scientist, are you comfortable with the government "science" that ended their studies with taphonomy after destroying critical evidence rather than starting their studies with taphonomy and recording all evidence intact?
When the reports are complete, you will find new, factually established scientific information before you. In the meantime, as a scientist it might be fair for you to wait to see what is actually produced, rather than judge the quality of the science prematurely with no factual basis for your remarks. I would also hope that you would read with a bit more scientific skepticism (i.e., critical thinking) the government reports. There was a distinct possibility (and now known) that the government did get things some things very wrong. And if the plaintiffs hadn't persisted with the lawsuit the 'government science' would have been the only story allowed. As a scientist, government controlled 'scientific explanations' of the past should at least make your skin itch.
The plaintiffs stood up for your freedom as a scientist - how you will respond when your field of enquiry is challenged. Will you be willing to roll over and let a government report stand as the only facts allowed?

We'll certainly see what new information comes from the new studies. I myself expect there will be some new stuff, but on the critical issues about the burial, the stone point, the phenetic resemblance of the skull to different populations, and its age, I don't expect any new revelations, and I said as much in my e-mail reply. As for what you should think about the whole thing, go back to my earlier post, follow the links, and compare the different study methods for yourself. There are some differences; they're not in the critically interesting areas (at least to me; others may have different views about what's interesting).

I would be happy to be wrong: it would certainly help political matters (see post below) if there actually was something hidden in the bones all along.