Nearly 8,000-year-old skull found in Minnesota River
REDWOOD FALLS, Minn. (AP) — A partial skull that was discovered last summer by two kayakers in Minnesota will be returned to Native American authorities after investigations determined it was about 8,000 years old.
Kayakers found the skull in the drought-depleted Minnesota River about 180 miles west of Minneapolis, Renville County Sheriff Scott Hable said.
Thinking it might be related to a missing person case or murder, Hable turned the skull over to a medical examiner and eventually to the FBI, where a forensic anthropologist used carbon dating to determine that he was. probably acted from the skull of a young man who lived between 5,500 and 6,000 BC, Hable said.
“It was a complete shock to us that this bone was so old,” Hable told Minnesota Public Radio.
The anthropologist determined that the man had a depression in the skull which was “possibly suggestive of the cause of death”.
After the sheriff announced the find on Wednesday, his office came under fire from several Native Americans, who said posting photos of ancestral remains was offensive to their culture.
Hable said his office cut the post.
“We didn’t want it to be offensive,” Hable said.
Hable said the remains would be turned over to tribal leaders from the Upper Sioux community.
Minnesota Council of Indian Affairs cultural resources specialist Dylan Goetsch said in a statement that neither the council nor the state archaeologist had been notified of the find, which is required by Minnesota laws. States that govern the care and repatriation of Native American remains.
Goetsch said the Facebook post “showed a complete lack of cultural sensitivity” by failing to call the individual a Native American and referring to the remains as “a little piece of history.”
Kathleen Blue, a professor of anthropology at Minnesota State University, said Wednesday that the skull was definitely from an ancestor of one of the tribes still living in the area, The New York Times reported.
She said the young man would likely have eaten plants, deer, fish, turtles and freshwater mussels in a small area, rather than following mammals and bison on their migrations.
“There probably weren’t many people at that time wandering Minnesota 8,000 years ago because, as I said, the glaciers only retreated a few thousand years ago,” Blue said. “This period, we don’t know much.”
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