Native American remains found at Oak Harbor construction site

Archaeologists are working with Tulalip, Samish, Swinomish and Stillaguamish tribes.

State archaeologists are working with several Native American tribes to repatriate the remains of a man found at a construction site in Scenic Heights in Oak Harbor May 7.

Dr. Guy Tasa from the state Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation said the skeletal remains are at least 100 years old, if not older, and belong to one Native American man. The department is working with the Samish, Swinomish, Stillaguamish and Tulalip tribes to handle the remains appropriately, he said.

The remains were found on a property owned by Oak Harbor developer Scott Thompson. He has plans to build 11 homes on the property on Scenic Heights Road, and said workers were finishing installing utilities and grading work when they made the discovery.

Native American remains have been found at many construction sites in Oak Harbor and Whidbey Island.

The remains of a single person were discovered in 2008 at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island at the Seaplane Base.

The project to turn Southeast Pioneer Way into a one-way street in 2011 unearthed an ancient burial ground. Archaeologists recovered more than 4,300 human bones or bone fragments, almost 17,000 non-human bone fragments and more than 44,000 historic artifacts or fragments from the downtown street, according to a declaration from M. Brian Cladoosby, the chairman of the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community at the time.

The city also found Native American remains during the construction of the sewage treatment plant in 2016.

This story originally appeared in the Whidbey News-Times, a sister publication to The Herald.

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