EMPIRE, Mich. (AP) — Officials are communicating with Native American groups to help decide what to do next with prehistoric human remains found along a Michigan Lake shoreline in a northwestern Michigan park.
A visitor found the remains in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore three years ago, took them out of the park and then returned them a year later, Scott Tucker, the park’s superintendent, told MLive.com.
Examinations at a medical examiner’s office and further analysis of the bones at Western Michigan University helped identify them as prehistoric remains most likely tied to prehistoric Native American populations.
“Our goal is to respect the ancestral remains that were found, and let the tribes determine the next steps,” Tucker said.
The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act requires a role for Native Americans regarding remains discovered on federal or tribal lands. Park officials have been holding consultations with five regional tribal communities about the lakeshore remains.
Erosion caused by higher water levels in Lake Michigan in recent years likely led to them to become exposed, according to Tucker. The finding became public recently after park officials placed public notices about the remains in several regional newspapers.