By Tim Leeds/Havre Daily Newsfirstname.lastname@example.org
Human remains uncovered April 3 by a bulldozer in North Havre appear to be those of an American Indian male, probably buried before the area was settled by homesteaders in the late 1800s, the Hill County Sheriff's Office said today.
Sheriff Greg Szudera said he will turn the remains over to the Montana State Historical Society so they can be given to an American Indian group for burial, as required by state law.
Numerous people had called the sheriff's office with leads about missing people after the remains were discovered, Szudera said. Many people thought it may be the body of Cheryl Lambert, a young Havre woman who disappeared in 1972.
"It's an emotional discovery for the community, with some of the people who are missing from our city, and it just didn't turn out to be the remains of any of those," Szudera said.
"It was very helpful to bring some of the old cases back to light, to see what direction we have to take to pursue those," he added.
The bones were discovered when brothers Rex and Norman Boucher were leveling some ground near their homes on the west end of 15th Street North.
The remains were sent to the state crime lab in Missoula. The state crime lab and the anthropology department at the University of Montana-Missoula identified the remains as those of an American Indian man between the ages of 35 and 60, between 5 foot 6 and 5 foot 11 in height and 115 to 176 pounds, Szudera said.
A lack of evidence of trauma indicates the person died of natural causes, he said.
Szudera said the analysis was unable to pinpoint when the person died but the report said it could have been as long ago as 1384. The lack of dental work indicates it was a person from a historical period, rather than modern times, he added.
Beads found with the body indicate it is from a period after Europeans arrived in North America, the report said.
Randall Skelton of UM's Department of Anthropology said this morning the condition of the bones and artifacts found with them indicate they probably came from a historical American Indian burial site.