The ancient bones of the Kennewick Man have been returned to the ground. More than 200 members of five Columbia Plateau tribes and bands gathered at an undisclosed location over the weekend to lay the remains of the man they call "the Ancient One" to rest, according to an announcement Sunday by the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, the Tri-City Herald reports. "We always knew the Ancient One to be Indian," says Aaron Ashley, Umatilla board member and chairman of the Cultural Resources Committee. "We have oral stories that tell of our history on this land, and we knew, at the moment of his discovery, that he was our relation."
However, tribal members waited more than 20 years to be allowed to rebury the bones, which are believed to be about 8,400 years old, the AP reports. Kennewick Man was found on the banks of the Columbia River about 20 years ago by two college students in Kennewick, Wash. The skeleton is among the oldest and most complete found in North America, and though tribes immediately filed claims for the Ancient One, a federal judge decided to allow scientists to study the bones. A DNA study in 2015 concluded the remains were Native American, and legislation signed by Barack Obama on Dec. 19 required the skeleton to be turned over to the coalition of tribes within 90 days.