KNIK - The discovery of human remains by an excavator has halted construction of a warehouse next to the Knik Museum.
An examination by the state archaeologist determined the remains were likely those of a native male in his early 20s, KTUU-TV reported Tuesday.
The man likely died between 75 and 100 years ago. The remains were found wrapped in birch bark and wood.
"They definitely did find a body, but the indications at this point are it's an individual gravesite not necessarily a cemetery," said Eileen Probasco, the borough's acting director of planning. "How it was placed there, that's yet to be determined."
Members of a group called Friends of Old Knik said they repeatedly warned the borough the site was a historic cemetery.
"This is a national historic site that they just tore apart," said Nancy Sult, a member of the group.
Matanuska-Susitna Borough officials said they found nothing when they used ground-penetrating radar to search for burial sites before digging in the area.
Knik Tribe Traditional Chief Paul Theodore said the borough's testing might have gone awry because fill dirt was pushed on top of the area when Knik Goose Bay Road was built, burying the cemetery deeper.
"I was a little kid, I played here and my mom told me not to play around them graves. They were scared of ghosts and stuff so I never went back there," Theodore said.
Borough officials have yet to decide if they will resume digging.