Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan received a call from Sgt. Roderick LeGardye of the Flint Police Department concerning the inadvertent discovery of human remains in Flint, MI. A Saylor Building Company construction crew, contracted by the Genesee County Land Bank, was digging out a basements in the historic Carriage Town District when they unearthed the remains. Two individuals were archaeology excavated by the Michigan State Police and the Bridgeport Crime Lab and were sent to Dr. Norman Sauer at Michigan State University following departmental protocol. Dr. Sauer verified that the remains were of Native American ancestry dating over 150 years old. The following day on January 29, the remains of two more individuals were unearthed. In all, up to 20 individuals may have been unearthed and/or exposed.
Due to the complexities of this inadvertent discovery, state and national agencies dealing specifically with Historic Preservation, such as the Office of the State Archaeologist, State Historic Preservation Office, Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, and the Department of Interiors National Park Service - NAGPRA, were involved and consulted with at various junctures throughout this process.
Since the inadvertent discovery, the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan has continued to advise the Genesee County Land Bank and the City of Flint on the steps necessary to mitigate this unfortunate situation. In May 2009, the Genesee County Land Bank informed the Tribe that they did not possess the financial resources needed to properly excavate the site in respect to the ancestral remains. On June 2, 2009 the Saginaw Chippewa Tribal Council and the Genesee County Land Bank agreed to a mitigation plan with the Tribe encumbering the financial responsibility. The Ziibiwing Center, by authority from the Saginaw Chippewa Tribal Council and the Genesee County Land Bank, was tasked with the coordination of an archaeological excavations of the Stone Street site . The ancestral human remains will be respectfully sifted from over 76,000 cubic ft. of back dirt piles and reinterred at the site.
This mitigation plan was designed with direction from the Saginaw Chippewa Tribal Council, Tribal Elders, Tribal Attorneys, and archaeological consultants. In accordance with cultural and spiritual protocols, the splintered and fragmented ancestral remains must be separated from the mixture of cement chunks, red bricks, housing siding & foundation, roof tiles, glass & plastic bottles, garbage, and other unassociated debris before a dignified and respectful reinternment can be performed.
The Ziibiwing Center is looking for volunteers (18yrs. & older) and excavation equipment for this mitigation effort:
• Tribal Delegations
• University/College American Indian Student Groups
• Archaeology & Anthropology Classes or Students
• Other Interested University/College Classes or Organizations
• Historical Societies & Museums
• Food & Beverage Donations
• Trowels, Shovels & Rakes
The project's Field Supervisors are Michigan State University archaeological graduate students, Frank & Nicole Raslich (Frank is also a member of the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan); with supervision from Dr. Beverley Smith (U-M Flint) & Dr. Sonya Atalay (Indiana University) who will serve as Principal Investigators for the duration of the project.
Dress appropriately for the work and weather. Bring your hat, sunscreen, gloves, water bottle, and lawnchair. The project will run daily from 8am-4pm, Monday-Sunday, until further notice. Breakfast and lunch will be provided onsite for all volunteers.
In the event of inclement weather, the project may be suspended for the day(s). Call the Field Supervisors, Frank & Nicole Raslich, at (810) 348-0759 for updated information before traveling to Flint especially if you are volunteering your time on a Saturday or Sunday.
Daytripper transportation will be available from the Ziibiwing Center. A van will depart from the parking lot at 8:15am and return by 5pm. Call Ziibiwing's main line at (989) 775-4750 to reserve your seat.
The Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan and the Ziibiwing Center are grateful for the support and monetary donation from the Michigan Anishinaabek Cultural Preservation & Repatriation Alliance (MACPRA).