Human remains found on Prince of Wales Island

Bones found during timber survey may be 100 to 1,500 years old

Posted: Thursday, June 22, 2000

A U.S. Forest Service worker surveying land for a timber sale on Prince of Wales Island on Tuesday found a Native burial site.

The fragments of two skulls and a jaw bone were lying on the ground in a remote area, said Forest Service archaeologist Terry Fifield in Craig. He was told of the find Wednesday and reported it to the Alaska State Troopers and tribal authorities in Kake and Klawock.

``Nothing further's been disturbed and nothing will be disturbed unless the tribe wants to rebury them in another area,'' Fifield said.

The Klawock Cooperative Association will probably choose to leave the remains where they are, as the tribal council has done with similar instances in the past, said Mary Edenshaw at the Klawock Cooperative Association.

The bones have not been dated, but Fifield believes they are 100 to 1,500 years old.

He tries not to publicize such finds because occasionally people will go looking for them and disturb the sites, which is illegal. Last fall a man was convicted and sentenced for disturbing a grave site near Klawock.

``It's important that we recognize that these are sacred places and burials that were not only sacred places to the people who buried them 100 years ago, but they're sacred places to the people of Southeast Alaska today,'' Fifield said. ``The most appropriate way to treat them is to leave them undisturbed.''

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