Human Remains Found In Chatham Likely Native American

By: Tim Wood

Remains found at excavation in Chatham Thursday. CHATHAM POLICE PHOTO

CHATHAM – Human remains discovered last Thursday at an Uncle Albert's Drive property during excavation for a swimming pool are thought to be Native American in origin, according to police.

Initial examination by a state forensic anthropologist from the Chief Medical Examiner's Office indicated there were two to three sets of remains, which were buried about four feet deep. It appears to have been a family burial ground, said Chief of Police Mark Pawlina.

Since the remains appeared to be “very old,” Pawlina said there is no criminal investigation and the case has been turned over to the Massachusetts Medical Examiner's Office and the Massachusetts Historical Commission.

Police were notified of the discovery about 3:20 p.m. by a pool construction crew. Pawlina said the homeowner was cooperative and concerned about the disposition of the remains, and indicated a willingness to preserve the area until research was concluded.

No other artifacts were located in the area, said Lt. Michael Anderson.

Whether the remains would be reburied at the site or removed and turned over to the Massachusetts Bureau of Indian Affairs was not certain, said Pawlina. Early this week he was still awaiting word from the Medical Examiner's Office, which had sent personnel to the site at least twice.

Several human remains recently discovered in town have been identified as Native American in origin. Remains believed to be more than 100 years old were found at a construction site on Cross Street last July, and a skull was found on the property of the Atwood House and Museum in December.  The skull had apparently been found on the outer beach and was later left on the museum grounds on Stage Harbor Road. Both cases were investigated by the Medical Examiner's Forensic Anthropologist Division, according to police.

“It makes you wonder how many burial grounds there are around town,” said Pawlina. “It shows how much real history there is here.”