In a quiet residential neighborhood in Santa Ana, city workers were digging beneath a sidewalk when they made a startling discovery four feet deep — bones. It appeared to be a complete human skeleton.
Homicide detectives were summoned to the site in the block of West Borchard Avenue after the late October find. But forensic investigators quickly determined that the bones were very old — at least years old. And they appeared to be those of a Native American person, perhaps a member of the Gabrielino-Tongva tribe who once lived in the area. A month earlier, about two miles from the Borchard Avenue site, crews excavating for the OC Streetcar project also found ancient Native American bones. With work continuing on the 4. The quest to find both sets of remains a final resting place began soon after they were identified as ancient and Native American.
In both the Santa Ana cases, the commission tapped Gabrielino-Tongva chief Anthony Morales as the descendent responsible for recommending a place and method of burial.
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Similar finds are not uncommon in Orange County. But they are always emotionally jarring, Morales said. His ancestors buried their loved ones with no idea that suburbia would eventually rise on top of the graves. But we have to take into consideration today, versus the past.
What are natural resources?
A Tongva village is believed to have once stood on the area where both sets of remains were found. With the Santa Ana River nearby, it was a logical spot to settle, Morales said. Morales will now work with local officials and an archaeologist to investigate the remains and the places where they were found. Were they men or women?
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How old were they when they died? How long ago did they walk this land? Did they live in the village? Martinez said she knows a Tongva woman whose grandfather grew up near the OC Streetcar project site where the first set of remains was found. During freeway construction in Long Beach in the s, workers found the bones of about Native inhabitants.
Inmore than a half-century later, the remains were reburied in the same area. Members of the Gabrielino-Tongva tribe battled for years over almost human remains exhumed during construction of a multibillion-dollar luxury housing project in Playa Vista. During the legal battle, the remains and other artifacts rested in containers in a nearby trailer before returning to the earth under an agreement reached between tribe members and developers.
Last fall in the county, some portions of the Freeway widening project were delayed after workers came across ancient bones. The discovery was made by work crews on the OC Streetcar Project.
Tools & converters
After all the questions that can be answered are answered, Morales will find a suitable place to bury the two sets of Santa Ana remains in a traditional ceremony, held in a secluded area and attended by a small group of tribe members. Lila Seidman covers trending and breaking news for the Los Angeles Times.
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