wayne harris coroner chelanOn Friday, March 19th, at around 3:00 p.m. on the vacation rental property of The Lookout in Chelan, excavation work was being done, and the individual operating the excavator unearthed a human skull. As he briefly looked around, he also found an upper arm (humerus), shin bone (tibia), lower jaw (mandible), and some small rib fragments.

The operation was stopped and he called RiverCom to report the find. Detectives were notified, and they in turn notified the Coroner’s Office. The two entities met at the site of the find in an attempt to ascertain what was found.

Looking at the skull and corresponding with Dr. Kathy Taylor, the state forensic anthropologist, it was immediately determined that the remains belonged to a Native American. She immediately notified Dr. Guy Tasa, the state physical anthropologist with the Washington State Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation. He contacted the Coroner’s office and obtained as much information as available about the situation. He began writing letters to the local tribes, notifying them of the find and coordinating a time when the departments would all meet back at the site and determine what the next steps would be.

On Monday, March 23rd, Dr. Tasa, a representative from the Colville Tribe and the Coroner met at the site and discussed the situation. Dr. Tasa and his assistant walked the area and were able to locate several other skeletal pieces to include a rib, an ankle bone, a finger bone, and the sacrum and tailbone (coccyx). These additional bones were collected, and the bones found Friday were turned over to Dr. Tasa.

Managers for The Lookout were also onsite, and they were given the legal requirements of the next steps. The site will be further investigated by an archeologist after proper permits are obtained. The process will continue to include the Colville Tribe representatives and may take up to 60 days.

When the investigation is completed, all of the skeletal remains will be placed in a cedar box and interred at the small cemetery on property that belongs to the Wapato Tribe, near the Mill Bay Casino.

The public are strongly advised to stay out of the area as it is an active Native American excavation site, and law enforcement will periodically drive through the area. Any remains or Native American artifacts found are to be turned over to local law enforcement, the Coroner, or the proper representative from the Colville tribe.