city, Benton county, southeastern Washington, U.S. It lies along the Columbia River, opposite Pasco and immediately southeast of Richland. Laid out in 1892 by the Northern Pacific Irrigation Company, Kennewick is surrounded by farm country producing alfalfa, corn (maize), beans, sugar beets, grapes, and cherries. Hydroelectric dams on the Columbia River and the Hanford Works of the U.S. Department of Energy just northwest of the tri-city group are important to the economy. Kennewick has chemical and agricultural processing plants near the confluence of the Columbia with the Snake and Yakima rivers. The city's name, probably of Indian origin, is believed to mean "grassy place." Kennewick's Columbia Park was the site of the discovery, in July 1996, of human remains that have been determined to be about 9,400 years old. The skull was long and narrow, suggesting European, rather than Asian, descent. This characteristic touched off a scholarly debate about the peopling of America, a controversy further inflamed by the U.S. government's application of the Native American Graves and Repatriation Act, which allowed that all remains of a certain age would be given to the proprietorship of an appropriate party and buried. Inc. 1904. Pop. (1990) city, 42,155; Richland-Kennewick-Pasco MSA, 150,033; (2000) city, 54,693; Richland-Kennewick-Pasco MSA, 191,822.
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