Nearly 8,000-Year-Old Skull Found in the Minnesota River

REDWOOD FALLS, Minn. — A partial skull that was discovered last summer by two kayakers in Minnesota will be returned to Native American officials after investigations determined it was about 8,000 years old.

Renville County Sheriff Scott Hable reported that kayakers located the skull about 110 miles (180km) west Minneapolis.

Hable believed it may be related to missing person cases or murder. Hable handed the skull to a physician and then to the FBI. There, a forensic Anthropologist used carbon dating and determined that it was most likely the skull of an older man, Hable stated.

“It was a complete shock to us that that bone was that old,” Hable told Minnesota Public Radio.

The anthropologist determined the man had a depression in his skull that was “perhaps suggestive of the cause of death.”

Many Native Americans criticized the office of the sheriff after it posted about the discovery Wednesday.

Hable claimed that the office has removed him from his post.

“We didn’t mean for it to be offensive whatsoever,” Hable said.

Hable stated that the remains would be handed over to Upper Sioux Community tribal leaders.

Dylan Goetsch (Minnesota Indian Affairs Council Cultural Resources Specialist) stated that neither the state archaeologist nor the council were informed about the discovery. State laws govern care and repatriation for Native American remains.

Goetsch said the Facebook post “showed a complete lack of cultural sensitivity” by failing to call the individual a Native American and referring to the remains as “a little piece of history.”

According to The New York Times, Kathleen Blue, an associate professor of Anthropology at Minnesota State University said Wednesday that this skull is definitely an ancestor from one of the remaining tribes in the region.

The young man, she said, would likely have preferred to eat plants, deer and fish in smaller areas than follow mammals or bison along their migrations.

“There’s probably not that many people at that time wandering around Minnesota 8,000 years ago, because, like I said, the glaciers have only retreated a few thousands years before that,” Blue said. “That period, we don’t know much about it.”


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