June 4, 2014

Remains of 17 Native Americans, hundreds of years old, found during railway construction project


Remains of 17 Native Americans, hundreds of years old, along with some artifacts were recovered nearly two years ago during construction of the planned BART extension from Fremont to San Jose, a transportation spokeswoman revealed Friday.

Crews working for the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority unearthed the bones and relics while they were relocating gas, oil and other utility lines in October 2012, said VTA spokeswoman Bernice Alaniz.

The county medical examiner’s office was notified and analysts eventually determined the bones of 17 Native Americans and tribal artifacts had been buried there for more than 200 years.

But in order to preserve and protect the remains as well as the artifacts, the discovery, including the location of the find, has been kept under wraps to preserve and protect what was found, Alaniz said.

As required under state laws protecting Native American burial sites, the VTA contacted the California Native American Heritage Commission in Sacramento, which attempted to reach the “most likely descendants” of the deceased.

The VTA worked with those presumed descendants to make sure the remains and relics were relocated.

The 10-mile, $2.3 billion first phase, known as the Berryessa Extension Project, will extend south of the under-construction Warm Springs BART station in Fremont to create stations in Milpitas and the Berryessa area in East San Jose.

The Berryessa Extension is set to begin running BART trains to Daly City and Richmond by about 2017, according to the VTA. Once the extension is completed, BART will operate the trains while the VTA will own the land and stations.

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