OCEANSIDE — Native American skeletal remains found underneath concrete steps of an Oceanside home at the 600 block of Monterey Street may soon be returned to rest in the ground they were unearthed from, according to the Native American Heritage Commission.
On Sept. 21, Oceanside Police were dispatched to the Capistrano neighborhood after a construction project in the backyard of a house turned up bone fragments just below the dirt’s surface, police said.
The fragments were discovered underneath cement steps that had been in place at least 30 years, according to police.
The bones were released to the Department of the Medical Examiner
“We first determine if they are human and of historical interest,” said Julio Estrada, supervising medical examiner investigator for the San Diego County Coroner’s Office.
The Coroner’s findings stated that the remains are likely historic and the Native American Heritage Commission will be notified of the discovery.
The remains will be returned to the most likely descendent for appropriate repatriation.
Dave Singleton, program analyst of the Native American Heritage Commission, or NAHC, based in Sacramento, said that Estrada notified the NAHC within 24 hours of the findings, which is required by law.
The NAHC is the state’s trustee for burial grounds, Singleton said.
“Once we receive a call from the coroner about the remains, we first identify the cultural travel area. We are guided by generally accepted research that identifies these areas,” Singleton said.
“Grave goods” were also unearthed near the bones, he said.
Some of the goods included fragments of a pot and shells that could have been part of a necklace.
The Rincon Band of Luiseno Indians was the next tribe in line on a rotation that includes all seven Luiseno Tribes, and they will most likely name the deceased, he said.
They have the responsibility of taking custody of the remains.
“The preference is for the remains to remain in place, if possible, or be reburied,” he said.
In this most recent discovery, the fragments of bones appear to be from one body, Singleton said.
He said the Rincon Band met with the homeowners who discovered the remains, and made recommendations for the old bones to be buried on their property in an area where they won’t be disturbed.
The Rincon Band did confirm that the homeowners of the Oceanside house are happy to keep the remains at the location where they were found.
On Sept. 29, at Imperial Beach, another set of Native American human remains was unearthed during a construction project, according to Estrada.
He said that an anthropologist was on site during that project, and was able to determine by examination that the bones were human and of historical interest.