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Orange County Freeway Renovation Pauses Due to Discovery of Native American Burial Site

On September 25, building crews within the strategy of taking part in a freeway enchancment undertaking unearthed bones belonging to Native Americans, bringing a halt to the development undertaking.

“Work remains stopped in the area while all established procedures are followed,” Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) spokesman Eric Carpenter advised the Orange County Register.

The bones had been discovered subsequent to the Interstate 405 freeway, close to an overpass that isn’t being recognized per the request of the OCTA to verify the stays keep protected. The overpass was within the strategy of being widened, certainly one of eighteen scheduled for enchancment through the $1.9 billion undertaking.

“An archaeologist determined that artifacts around the bones signify Native American remains,” mentioned Artin Baron, supervising deputy coroner, of the Orange County Coroner’s workplace.

“It was not a coroner’s case, so we immediately turned it over to the California Native American Heritage Commission,” he mentioned. Such stays are protected by federal and state legal guidelines.

It’s not unusual to search out Native American burial grounds in California; Baron estimates that such unearthings happen a few occasions a yr.

“OCTA is working with Caltrans, which oversees and ensures that established state procedures are followed,” Carpenter mentioned.

In such conditions, in accordance with the Native American Heritage Commission, the “most likely descendants” are contacted and invited to examine the stays, artifacts, and website. Then it is as much as the subsequent of kin as to how the stays are buried with “due dignity”—on the positioning or on sacred land.

“Otherwise, it would be like going into a cemetery and digging up someone’s grave site,” Walter Ahhaitty, operations director for the Fountain Valley-based Southern California Indian Center, mentioned. “It should not be taken lightly. We might not know today where our indigenous people are interred, but they knew and they cared.”

Orange County Freeway Renovation Pauses Due to Discovery of Native American Burial Site
A freeway overpass in California. Construction on an unnamed overpass in California has been halted as a result of discovery of Native American stays. Supannee_Hickman/Getty

Apparently it might take two months or extra to soundly take away the stays from the positioning so building might proceed—one thing the OCTA is ready for, shifting building operations towards repairing one other overpass till the stays have been eliminated.

“Any time you start disturbing dirt in California, you’re likely to find artifacts,” Alther mentioned. “It’s the price of doing business,” Attorney Dorothy Alther, government director of the California Indian Legal Services, advised The Orange County Register.

This is not the primary time the OCTA needed to cope with such points throwing wrenches into their building plans. In 2007, building on a residential group in Huntington Beach was halted when bone fragments believed to be over 8,500 years outdated had been discovered on the development website.

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