Remains at dig site now number 22

Removal from high school grounds expected to last through end of August

Work crews excavating the building foundation of the new gymnasium at San Ramon Valley High School have discovered over a dozen more bodies believed to be the remains of Bay Miwok tribesmen.

A skeleton was first discovered at the site July 8, while workers dug a water line. At that time an archeologist and a Native American representative were named by the Native American Heritage Commission to oversee the removal and re-interment of the remains.

Andrew Galvan, named by the commission as the Most Likely Descendant, said that more remains were uncovered Monday.

"As of the end of the day Thursday, a total of 22 discreet individuals have been identified. Twenty-one of them remain in the ground. The one originally found on July 8 has been removed," Galvan said.

Testing is expected to determine how old the remains are, but Galvan said he would estimate somewhere between 250-2,000 years old. He added that because they have found some remains as deep as 8 feet below the ground and some as shallow as 3 feet that there could be a wide range in the timeframe the individuals were buried. Workers will examine artifacts found near the remains as a rough means of estimating their ages.

Galvan, who has served as Descendant on numerous occasions during the past three decades, said he is expecting that they will find still another 20 or more individual remains over the course of examining the area.

Several archaeological sites surround the high school location. Galvan said Tatcan was a Bay Miwok village located near the high school, and the workers may have uncovered a mortuary complex.

"Think about the little church on the hillside with the fenced in cemetery in back," he posed. "People did that because they wanted to be able to bury their loved ones close by."

An archaeological team will be brought in to take over the disinterment of the remains. "Each burial will be exposed," Galvan explained. "Think Discovery Channel, with the lines and the grids, using the brushes to carefully expose it all. Archaeology in America."

Once the remains have all been exposed, they will be carefully removed to an undisclosed location where they will be examined and prepared for re-burial in the Ohlones Indian Cemetery in Fremont.

In the meantime, work is proceeding at the high school, albeit more slowly. Earth moving machinery is continuing to excavate, but a layer at a time under supervision to watch for further remains. The major foundation work is expected to be completed by early next week.

School District spokesman Terry Koehne said the project is continuing. "We're still allowed to work in certain areas, areas where we have not yet found any remains," he said.

At this point Koehne said it is unknown if the discovery of the remains will delay the conclusion of the gym project or whether it will add to the nearly $10 million price tag of the construction.

Because the remains were found on district property, it is up to them to pay the costs associated with the removal process, an amount Koehne said would be around $25,000.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Duffy
a resident of Danville
on Jul 31, 2009 at 7:56 am

Just rename the High School "Pomo High" and get on with it!

 +   Like this comment
Posted by Rick Pshaw
a resident of Danville
on Jul 31, 2009 at 8:10 am

Why has this not been designated a sacred Indian Burial ground? It obviously needs much more study and investigation. I just don't believe they all died in one place - they were buried by their people.

 +   Like this comment
Posted by Beverly Lane
a resident of Danville
on Jul 31, 2009 at 8:22 am

It is not surprising to find more burials in Danville and the San Ramon Valley. Just as we do, the Indians liked to live in agreeable surroundings with water, oak trees, seed meadows, deer and a temperate climate.
If people are interested in learning more about the Bay Miwok people, there is information at the Museum of the San Ramon Valley. In October-November an exhibit on the first people will be in place at the Museum.
Thank you to Andy Galvan for reminding us -- again -- just how long Indians lived here.

 +   Like this comment
Posted by Jon
a resident of Danville
on Aug 1, 2009 at 7:46 am

This was obviously a sacred burial ground for the people who used to live here. Digging them up and moving them around like they were some kind of artifact is extremely disrespectful. If we found a 200-year old cemetery of early settlers that we didn't know about we'd declare it a landmark and off-limits to development. Why not build the gym over the Alamo Cemetery if this is the respect we are going to give to the dead?

 +   Like this comment
Posted by Liz
a resident of San Ramon
on Aug 1, 2009 at 9:27 am

I agree with Jon from Danville. These indians didn't live in Fremont, they lived in Danville and that's where they should remain.

 +   Like this comment
Posted by KT
a resident of Los Cerros Middle School
on Aug 1, 2009 at 9:29 am

You saw what happened to the Brady kids when they went to Hawaii and messed around with the tiki they found buried. Don't move the indians.

 +   Like this comment
Posted by Drew
a resident of Alamo
on Aug 2, 2009 at 8:42 pm

great... so now when they move the Indians to Fremont, Danville area will be haunted. Put them in the Railroad museum or somewhere still in Danville

 +   Like this comment
Posted by Rick
a resident of Danville
on Aug 3, 2009 at 8:32 am

Natives have been living in the U.S. for more than 15,000 years. There's burial grounds under just about every plot of land if you dig deep enough. In Europe, cemeteries that are more than a few hundred years old are often dug up or relocated to make room for new things. It has nothing to do with disrespect. It has to do with logistics. There's burial grounds everywhere. Some of 'em gotta move. That being said, using burial grounds as an excuse is a great way to curb overdevelopment.

 +   Like this comment
Posted by Craig Nelson
a resident of Danville
on Aug 4, 2009 at 3:42 pm

I just want to remind everyone of the movie Poltergeist. I wouldn't go swimming in the SRV pool after this, although I wouldn't mind it if JoBeth Williams was there.

 +   Like this comment
Posted by David W.
a resident of Danville
on Aug 4, 2009 at 9:06 pm

Two words: amityville horror

 +   Like this comment
Posted by Craig T. Nelson
a resident of Danville
on Aug 4, 2009 at 9:16 pm

You mean you moved the head stones but not the grave!!!!!

 +   Like this comment
Posted by Chris
a resident of San Ramon Valley High School
on Aug 7, 2009 at 2:19 am

I think it is pretty cool that there are Indians buried their, I mean it shows how much time, even in our own Danville just flies by. I think the remains should be open to the public. And not moved either. Just built over.

 +   Like this comment
Posted by High School Mom
a resident of Vista Grande Elementary School
on Aug 21, 2009 at 9:13 am

Native American were (are) very spiritual. I believe that this site should be considered sacred and not desecrated in any way. I agree that the remains need to "remain" and make concessions for the new gym.

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