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Second Patwin burial site found

By Susanne Rockwell on June 16, 2000 in University News

An archeologist and a Native American representative are closely monitoring excavation for the new Center for the Arts on south-central campus.

Skeletal remains of a second Native American were excavated last week during an ongoing archeological investigation of the construction site for the new Center for the Arts.

The remains were in the vicinity of those discovered last October during the early stage of the archeological investigation at the adjacent future parking and roadway site. The remains are believed to be those of a member of the Patwin tribe, which inhabited the land surrounding Putah Creek when Europeans first arrived in the area.

Campus officials and archeologists expect that more remains could be found as construction proceeds on the performing arts hall.

"The results of the current and past studies show the Patwin occupied scattered sites along the historical Putah Creek stream channel, which is now the campus arboretum," said Sid England, campus environmental planner. Thus, any construction near the former creek could reveal additional burials.

"The campus is working with the Native American representative to ensure the remains are handled with appropriate respect," England said. The remains eventually will be reburied on the campus at a site selected with the Native American representative, he said.

More plans for commemorating earlier presence

In addition, campus administrators are working with Patwin representatives and campus Native Americans to find ways to commemorate the earlier presence of Native Americans along the former stream.

The remains were located underneath a former parking area south of the main campus between Old Davis Road and Interstate 80. The area was being thoroughly studied by archeological consultants prior to construction. The study has been ongoing in the area since last September, when evidence of Native American bead- and tool-making was found during excavation work for a parking structure.

During the investigation, campus officials have been in contact with the representatives designated by the Native American Heritage Commission as "the most likely descendants" of the local Patwin Tribe. The tribal representative was notified of the new discovery and performed a brief ceremony at the burial site. The campus has also notified the Yolo and Solano county coroner’s offices.

It was not anticipated that the discovery would disrupt the construction schedule for the $53.5 million Center for the Arts. Significant earth moving began this week.

The center’s grand lobby will bear the name of the Rumsey Indian Rancheria in recognition of the rancheria tribal council’s recent $625,000 gift to the Center for the Arts campaign. UC Davis Chancellor Larry Vanderhoef noted at the time of the gift’s acceptance that the rancheria was "partnering with the campus to create a lasting cultural and educational legacy for this region that is of shared historical significance."

Dating between A.D. 700 and A.D. 1200

As with the October find, the remains found last week appear to be those of a Native American adult and likely date to between A.D. 700 and 1200, but this time frame will be confirmed later, according to John Nadolski of Pacific Legacy Inc., an archeological consultant hired by UC Davis to investigate the campus improvement area.

Two years ago, an original archeological survey recorded evidence of stone tool manufacturing in the fields where construction is under way.

The area, considered a zone of cultural sensitivity because of its proximity to the former creek bank, has been closely monitored by archeologists since construction of a roadway and parking structure began last summer.

The skeletal remains discovered last week were about 48 inches below the surface in an area that had previously been paved as a parking lot.

In September 1993, human remains believed to be Native American were discovered during construction at the campus’ Solano Park student family housing complex, which is also located south of the main campus along the former banks of Putah Creek. At that time, representatives of the Patwin Tribe chose to rebury the remains on campus.

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