Aurora construction workers unearth remains of centuries-old Native American man

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Crime scene tape stretches across portions of a construction site in the area of Smoky Hill Parkway and South Powhatan Road, where human remains were found the morning of Feb. 13.
Photo by Philip B. Poston/Sentinel Colorado

AURORA | State and local officials Friday determined human bones recently found in a southeast Aurora construction site were those of a Native American man at least a century old.

Investigators from the Aurora Police Department, Arapahoe County Coroner’s Office and the Office of the State Archaeologist have determined the human remains discovered by construction workers at about 10 a.m. on Feb. 13 are “most likely over 100, if not 1,000 years old,” according to information posted to the Aurora Police Department blog.

The remains are now in the hands of the Colorado State Archaeologist, according to police.

Representatives from History Colorado, the state organization that oversees the Office of the State Archaeologist, said they cannot provide additional details until the man can be identified.

“We will be contacting the appropriate tribes and we respect their wishes, per the Colorado Unmarked Burial Process,” officials from History Colorado said in a statement.

There are a slew of rules and procedures related to unmarked remains of Native Americans outlined in state code.

“Upon notification that human remains are Native American, the state archaeologist … should determine the wishes of the landowner and the commission, and document this consultation with an official form to be signed by the concerned parties,” according to the state code of regulations related to archaeology.

Workers excavating a housing development for Richmond American Homes initially reported the remains to authorities, according to police.

The Office of the State Archaeologist said “a handful” of human remains or unmarked graves are reported each year, according to the History Colorado statement.