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"Ancient burial site found outside archeologist's office"
Ancient burial site found
trefwoorden: archeoloog - indiaans - begraafplaats - 16e eeuw
An ancient Indian burial ground believed to contain hundreds of skeletal remains was inadvertently discovered by a backhoe operator in Midland, Ont., while digging beside a tourist attraction of a recreated native village.
Police, the local coroner, archeologists and First Nations elders were called to the site beside Huron Village after the previously unknown grave site, from about 1500 AD, was uncovered on Thursday during construction of a community arena.
"I've been an archeologist for 35 years and it is rather ironic that just 75 feet from my office is an undetected, undisturbed Huron ossuary," said Jamie Hunter, curator of the museum and village.
Mr. Hunter had told workers to be on the lookout during construction because of the area's history.
"When the backhoe operator realized what he was dealing with wasn't tree roots but bones, he immediately stopped and came and got me and what he had discovered -- to everybody's shock -- was an entire Huron ossuary," Mr. Hunter said.
He believes the burial pit contains the remains of the deceased from an entire village of the Huron people, one of the major aboriginal groups in Ontario before European settlement.
An elder from Chippewas of Beausoleil First Nation, the closest First Nation group to Midland, visited the site on Friday and conducted a ceremony for the deceased, said Jack Contin, executive director of the G'Nadjiwon Ki Aboriginal Tourism Association, who is a liaison between native groups and the municipality.
"It was a special ceremony with four sacred medicines used, and water was presented. The elder gave special prayers as a reassurance that, after having being disturbed, all efforts would be taken to protect them," he said.
"It was a gesture to the grandfathers and grandmothers of the past that the interference was not intended."
A representative of the Huron people is scheduled to visit the site today, and more discussions are planned on what to do next, Mr. Contin said.
Mr. Hunter and Dr. Dean Knight, an archeologist from Wilfrid Laurier University, will examine the find to determine its extent and sift through three dump truck loads of soil that had been removed from the area before work was halted in a search for human remains.
Mr. Hunter estimates less than a quarter of the bodies were disturbed. Because the burial ground was part of the planned landscaping between the arena and an access road, there is no need to further disturb the site, he added.
The town is likely to declare it a protected cemetery and erect a plaque denoting the significance of the site, he said.
Valerie Monague, chief of the Chippewas of Beausoleil, praised the town for promptly contacting First Nations peoples.
The Huron people historically lived in villages for 15 to 25 years and, before moving to a new site, would dig a large circular pit, line it with fur or bark and bury those who had died during the community's stay there, Mr. Hunter said.
"The Huron belief is that because they were a community in life they should be a community in death."
Families would bring the bones of their relative in a beaver skin bag and place it in the pit during a nine-day ceremony called the Feast of the Dead. The sites were then protected by stones and logs.
The Hurons were defeated and dispersed by the Iroquois in the mid 1600s.
bron: National Post, 2 juni 2003