Saturday, August 3, 2013

Bones on the Banks of the Snake Await Identification

Posted By on Sat, Aug 3, 2013 at 10:00 AM

Officials from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers teamed up with regional Native American tribes for a search of the banks of the Snake River on Aug. 2, looking for ancient artifacts or bones in the wake of the July 28 discovery of apparent skull fragments.

Fishermen, while walking the muddy banks of the Snake, found a bone fragment believed to be the top of a skull, and alerted law enforcement in Burbank, Wash. The Corps has jurisdiction over the portion of the Snake River where the bones were found, and proceeded with the investigation as if it were a crime scene. No other bones were discovered in a sweep of the river bank, and a Corps spokesman said the fragments are almost certainly part of a Native American burial, but that can't be determined until further examination reveals their age. Those findings aren't expected for a few weeks.

This morning's Tri-City Herald reports that the Corps partnered with the Columbia Plateau Inter-Tribal Reparation Group, which represents the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Reservation, Yakama Nation, Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, the Nez Perce Tribe and the Wanapum Band, and will consult with the tribes and a physical anthropologist to identify the bones.

The Herald reports that while Native American remains are found in the region every year, officials must treat their discovery as a potential crime scene until proved otherwise. Federal law then protects Native American burial sites and remains.

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