FRESNO, Calif. -- As the Tulare Lake in southern San Joaquin Valley resurfaces, the Kings County Sheriff's Office says historic skeletal remains were recently discovered.
"There is a lot of dirt being moved around. High-speed rail and levee construction, so as it gets moved, bones can surface rather quickly," said Kings County Sheriff's Sgt. Nate Ferrier.
Sgt. Ferrier says on May 3, a dairy worker found the remains in this bag near 9 1/2 and Lansing Avenue.
He says they reached out to the Fresno State Anthropology Department, which inspected the bones to find out their origin.
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"I asked for very specific photographs. They sent us about 18, and in analyzing, I was able to assess that the remains are not of forensic significance and therefore consistent with the remains of an indigenous ancestor that is either historic or pre-historic," said Dr. Chelsey Juarez, an investigator with the Fresno State forensic anthropology lab.
Dr. Juarez advised the sheriff's office to send all of the information provided by Fresno State to the Native American Heritage Society in Sacramento.
The organization will then continue identifying what tribe the remains could belong to and provide a proper burial.
"It's our job for all of us who have the honor to live on this land that we honor the burials of ancestors and treat them with respect," explained Dr. Juarez.
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Officials expect more remains to be found as ongoing flooding continues and are urging anyone who comes across bones to speak up.
"A lot of the fear is that if someone is doing the work, we will come and shut down the construction, and that is not the case. We will get in and get out," said Sgt. Ferrier.
Sgt. Ferrier says the department has a strong relationship with local tribes and will support them if more remains are discovered.
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