Morgan Hill Indian Remains Will Likely Stay Put

Morgan Hill
– The American Indian remains found on a construction site will
probably remain where they are, and work at the site can continue,
Morgan Hill City Planner Jim Rowe said Tuesday.
Morgan Hill – The American Indian remains found on a construction site will probably remain where they are, and work at the site can continue, Morgan Hill City Planner Jim Rowe said Tuesday.

The remains, which included a skull and some larger bones, possibly leg bones, were found Monday afternoon as a backhoe operator with Giacalone Electrical Services was digging a trench at the site for street lights. The site is located on Cochrane Road opposite the Anderson Dam park in northeast Morgan Hill.

A recommendation from the American Indian community to re-bury the remains where they lay was made Tuesday afternoon by a representative from San Juan Bautista.

Dick Oliver, with Dividend Homes, the developer of the site, has the right to appeal the recommendation, but Oliver indicated earlier Tuesday that he wanted to cooperate with the Native American Heritage Commission.

It was not determined by press time when the re-burial will take place – if Oliver accepts the recommendation.

The best possible solution is that the remains will be re-buried without being disturbed in any way, even for historical research purposes, because of the belief that the remains are sacred, according to Larry Myers, executive secretary for the California Native American Heritage Commission.

The commission, representing the Native American community, considers such remains sacred. When remains or artifacts are found, Rowe said, there are strict procedures to be followed to show respect for cultural sensitivity and historical value of the discovery.

“I’ve been in the area, doing this since 1969, and this is the first time I’ve ever run into this situation, finding remains on a site,” said Oliver. “Naturally, we will be following the protocol for this, following what is set in place by the city and the archeologist.”

Oliver said the area where the remains were discovered was secured Monday afternoon so that no one would be able to disturb or photograph them. Morgan Hill police officers will continue to patrol the area until the remains are re-buried, Cmdr. David Swing said Tuesday.

Following protocol, when the remains were found Monday afternoon, the police department and the county coroner were notified. That same day, a forensic anthropologist identified the remains not long after they were found as being American Indian, possibly 1,000 years old.

The California Native American Heritage Commission was notified, according to protocol, but Rowe said that since a representative would have to come from Sacramento, a representative in San Juan Bautista was contacted. The city’s planner assigned to the project learned Tuesday afternoon that the representative from San Juan Bautista recommended that the remains not be moved, Rowe added.

“Once they are re-interred, that is the end of the matter,” Rowe said.

Marilyn Dubil covers education and law enforcement for The Morgan Hill Times. Reach her at (408) 779-4106 ext. 202 or at [email protected]

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