Local News

Human skeletal remains exhumed from Cable House

Human skeletal remains were discovered in part of the Cable House basement during construction.  (Photo by James Poulson/Daily Sitka Sentinel)

Human skeletal remains were discovered in part of the Cable House basement during construction in 2011. (Photo by James Poulson/Daily Sitka Sentinel)

Human skeletal remains discovered in KCAW’s basement in 2011 were removed from the Cable House on Friday(12-20-13). The bones were identified as Alaskan Native and are now in the custody of the Sitka Tribe of Alaska. KCAW’s Emily Forman has the story.

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The human remains were initially found by construction workers, in the midst of structural improvements to the historic Cable House, home of Raven Radio,  in October of 2011. New information revealed that the bones are Native Alaskan, likely Southeast in origin. The bones remained in the basement undisturbed until Friday (12-20-13). That was when they were exhumed from the Cable House basement, and turned over to the Sitka Tribe of Alaska.

Brian Kemp an Assistant Professor at  Washington State University, tested mitochondrial DNA in a tooth, and identified the remains as Native American. He also screened DNA on sex chromosomes, and found that the tooth had belonged to a female.  Kemp said that given the data available it is not possible to trace the bones to a specific population because the DNA sequence is widely common in Native American lineage.

While the remains are believed to be old, and likely predate the 103-year-old building that houses Raven Radio, Kemp does not know how old. He says radiocarbon dating is required to determine the age of these remains.

Joan Dale, an archaeologist with the Alaska Heritage Resources Survey inspected photographs of the remains. After considering the shape of a skull, Dale said they are most likely Southeast Alaska Native.

Sitka Tribe of Alaska staff with the assistance of Forest Service Archaeologist Jay Kinsman exhumed the bones.

KCAW General Manager Ken Fate said the removal process went well, under the guidance of Jay Kinsman. Overall, it was a well-coordinated effort between KCAW, STA, and the Forest Service.

The Sitka Tribe of Alaska will determine a suitable location for interment of the remains.

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