Archaeology bombshell: Human burial ground discovery sparked row over ‘extinct’ people

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Human remains were found in Missouri City, Texas, while excavation work was being conducted by a crew digging for a test site to collect and store stormwater runoffs. But after the body was found, crime scene investigators were enlisted, with experts believing the remains belonged to someone from the Karankawa Kadla people, a group of ancient Native Americans. The distinction of who the person was, was reported by the Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Office.

Reports say the Karankawa Kadla are an “indigenous people native to southeastern Texas”, and according to Newsweek they were “historically mostly concentrated along the state’s Gulf Coast”.

But Absolem Yetzirah, a representative of the Karankawa Kadla people, said this discovery would allow “our forgotten people” to be “heard and seen”, after he claimed there was “a lack of education regarding” them.

He said that many Texans were “not taught about the tribe or believe they are extinct”.

Absolem added: “This is not true. While we may exist in a number less than 300, we are not extinct.”

Upon making the discovery, the Sheriff’s Office announced it had been in discussions with the Karankawa Kadla people, and particularly as to what to do with the body itself.

A statement continued: “The remains were not removed and will be covered in place. Artifacts found have been returned and will also stay in place.

“Representatives will be coming to the site in the near future to conduct a burial ritual. The area has been marked by GPS and there will be no further excavation in the area.

“We’re proud of our diverse community, including those that came before us, and will always respect customs when possible.”

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Although Absolem was unhappy at the perceived lack of education in Texas, he was thankful that the Sheriff’s Office was not going to continue with its excavations.

He added: “As far as removing [the remains] from there, the tribe has discussed those things. We do not have the place to keep them. We would rather them stay where they are rather than to see them displayed in a museum or pulled and prodded by other people.

“On behalf of the Karankawa Kadla, The People of the Gulf Coast Lodge we thank you very much for the response and the respect.

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“At a time when our history is being erased, and our people forgotten, we have been heard and seen. This honour speaks volumes of the Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Office and their leadership.”

The representative explained that his people did not use specific burial grounds – like a cemetery – to bury those who have passed away.

Individuals are routinely buried close to where they die, or in places that had a significance with the deceased.

He concluded during an interview with KTRK this year: “The act of simply leaving the remains be and not removing anything, along with working with our tribe to present ceremoniously, is at this time the most we can humbly ask and receive from the land owner and local leadership.”

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