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The Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan and Ziibiwing Center Announce the Completion of the Native American Ancestral Recovery Effort on Stone Street in Flint, Mich.

Monarch Butterfly

The Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan and its Ziibiwing Center of Anishinabe Culture & Lifeways are pleased to announce the Native American ancestral recovery and mitigation effort near downtown Flint, Mich. on Stone Street has finally come to a close. Under the professional archaeological direction of Principal Investigator Dr. Beverley A. Smith (U of M - Flint), the final shovel of surface pile dirt was carefully checked for Native American ancestral remains by a crew of archaeological graduate student Field Supervisors, Saginaw Chippewa Tribal member workers, workers from other Tribes, and community volunteers during the late afternoon of August 2, 2011.

The Native American ancestral mitigation and recovery effort began on the 500 block of Stone Street nearly four years ago. The area was originally planned to become redeveloped residential housing in the historic Carriage Town district. On Monday, January 28, 2008, the 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. A Saylor Building Company construction crew, contracted by the Genesee County Land Bank, was digging out a basement when they unearthed the remains.

Two individuals were excavated by the Michigan State Police 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. On January 29, 2008, the remains of two more individuals were unearthed. In multiple meetings following the inadvertent discoveries, it was determined that the Genesee County Land Bank and the City of Flint had neither the expertise nor the funding to respectfully mitigate the Native American ancestral remains.

On June 2, 2009, the Saginaw Chippewa Tribal Council passed a Motion to direct the Ziibiwing Center of Anishinabe Culture & Lifeways, the Tribe's cultural center and museum, to coordinate an archaeological recovery process of the Stone Street site. On August 13, 2009 the splintered ancestral human remains began to be sifted from a mixture of over 76,000 cubic ft. of dirt, historic and 21st century rubbish, and housing debris piles situated across four single-family unit city parcels. The Stone Street Ancestral Recovery Project continued until November when the project suspended for the winter. Work resumed for season two from May 11, 2010 until mid-September 2010. Finally, on May 17, 2011 the Stone Street Ancestral Recovery Project began its final season of sifting and recovering Native American ancestral remains.

To date, 88 individuals have been recovered by the Saginaw Chippewa Tribally-funded team of professional archaeologists, Saginaw Chippewa Tribal member workers, workers from other Tribes, and archaeological graduate students. For the duration of the project, this team provided a history and orientation to the site, as well as supervision, for the countless community volunteers that have assisted in the recovery efforts over the past three years at this historic burial ground - now known as Archaeological Site #20GS136.

A "Recommitment to the Earth Ceremony" will take place sometime between mid-September and mid-October of this year for the Native American ancestral human remains that were recovered during the 2011 season of the Stone Street Ancestral Recovery Project.

The Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan is extremely grateful to the Stone Street Ancestral Recovery Team and the countless volunteers who have worked at or supported the site, including individuals and restaurants that donated food, money, and supplies for the project.