A partial skull found last summer by two canoeists in Minnesota is being returned to Native American authorities after investigations determined it to be about 8,000 years old.
Canoeists found the skull in the drought-stricken Minnesota River about 110 miles (180 kilometers) west of Minneapolis, Renville County Sheriff Scott Hable said.
Thinking it might be related to a missing person or murder case, Hable turned the skull over to a medical examiner and eventually to the FBI, where a forensic anthropologist used carbon dating to determine that it was likely the skull of a young man. who lived between 5,500 and 6,000 BC, Hable said.
“We were very surprised that this bone was so old,” Speak told Minnesota Public Radio.
The anthropologist determined that the man had a depression in his skull that was “possibly an indication of the cause of death.”
On Wednesday, after the police chief published the discovery, his office came under fire from several Native Americans, who said posting photos of ancestral remains was offensive to their culture.
According to Hable, his office withdrew the message.
“We didn’t want it to be offensive at all,” he said.
The remains will be turned over to Upper Sioux tribal community officials, Hable reported.
Minnesota Council on Indian Affairs Cultural Resources Specialist Dylan Goetsch said in a statement that neither the council nor the state archaeologist were notified of the find, which is a requirement of state laws regulating care and repatriation. of the remains of Native Americans.