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Skull found near Big Pine was 'reburied' there

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Skull found near Big Pine was 'reburied' there
Perham Minnesota 222 2nd Avenue SE 56573

A skull, unearthed near the shores of Big Pine Lake, east of Perham, was evidently unearthed previously, and then reburied at the current location.


A former property owner in the neighborhood admitted to reburying the skull in the 1970's. The skull had evidently been unearthed in the 1930's, according to Otter Tail County Sheriff Brian Schlueter.

Mark Englund of the Otter Tail County Sheriff's Office said the skull was unearthed some years ago at another location and reburied at the Big Pine Lake site. Investigators discovered the skull came into the possession of a previous landowner's father about 35 years ago. Englund said the skull had been out of the ground for some time before being buried again.

"The previous landowner buried it and thought that would be the right thing to do," Englund said.

The skull, which state archeologists determined as that of a plains Indian, was unearthed with a shovel August 27.

Crews from Arvig Communication Systems uncovered a skull during installation of telephone and Lake Region Electric lines.

After the Otter Tail County Sheriff's Department was called, the remains were gathered and sent to St. Paul to determine origin.

Construction was halted in that immediate area, said Jerry Guck, construction supervisor for ACS.

"We had to vacate premises, and move to another area to work. They'll be calling us when we can resume," said Guck. "We just got out of their way and let them do what they needed to do."

Now, since the skull was the only known remains in the area and is not believed to be part of a larger archeological find, the Arvig crews were given clearance to continue work at the site.

The remains were transported to a forensic anthropologist in St. Paul for analysis. The state archeologist's office and the Minnesota Indian Affairs Council are further investigating the remains. Final custody of the remains will be transferred to the Indian Affairs Council.

Although the remains uncovered last week were a fluke, that doesn't mean that the Otter Tail lake country doesn't have rare archeological sites.

"The state archeologist's office describes Otter Tail County as a 'hot spot,'" said Chris Schuelke, Otter Tail County Historical Society. With its abundant water, game, fish, wild rice and natural resources, "Otter Tail County has been a very active spot for Native American activity for hundreds--thousands of years."

"The Minnesota Woman," a famous find in the archeology world, was discovered in; Otter Tail County. At an estimated 5,000 years old, the "Minnesota Woman" is one of the earliest human remains discovered in the United States.

There were extensive excavations in the Dead Lake area, for example, noted Schuelke.

"The Dead Lake area is well-documented...But there are many sites in Otter Tail that have not been documented," said Schuelke. He reminds readers that there is a great need to be sensitive when uncovering human remains. "When discovered, don't disturb the site any more...We have to be sensitive--you wouldn't want to disturb a traditional rural cemetery," he added.