While resurfacing a portion of U.S. 23 earlier this year, a road crew in Oscoda, Michigan found some remains and artifacts. Because the remains have been confirmed to be Native American, the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) is now working with the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe to return the remains and the items under the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act.
The MDOT worked with Michigan State University’s Forensic Science lab to determine the origin of the remains, reported Michigan Radio.
“The relationship between the Michigan Department of Transportation and the federally recognized Indian tribe is strong,” William Johnson, curator at Ziibiwing Cultural Center, run by the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe to educate people about tribal ways and culture, told Michigan Radio.
Johnson said reburying remains is important to the tribe.
“The ceremonies normally start in the morning with the lighting of the sacred fire. The use of all the medicines like sage, sweet grass, and tobacco and cedar are used in the ceremonies,” he told Michigan Radio. “The ancestors are spoken to in the language, especially if those are ancient ancestors like many of them are.”