On Monday, January 29, 2008, the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan received a call from Sgt. Roderick LeGardye of the Flint Police Department concerning the inadvertent discovery of human remains in Flint, MI. A construction crew, contracted by the Genesee County Land Bank, was digging out a basement in the historic Carriage Town District when they unearthed remains. Two individuals were excavated by the Michigan State Police and the Bridgeport Crime Lab and were sent to Dr. Norman Sauer at Michigan State University following departmental protocol. Dr. Sauer verified that the remains were of American Indian ancestry dating over 150 years old. The following day, on January 30, the remains of two more individuals were unearthed. In all, up to 30 or more individuals may have been unearthed and/or exposed at this historic burial site (site #20GS136).
Since the inadvertent discovery, the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan (SCIT) has continued to advise the Genesee County Land Bank and the City of Flint on the steps necessary to mitigate this unfortunate situation.
On June 2, 2009, the SCIT’s Tribal Council passed a motion to direct the Ziibiwing Center of Anishinabe Culture & Lifeways to coordinate an archaeological ancestral recovery of the Stone Street site beginning on August 13, 2009. The ancestors were sifted from over 76,000 cubic feet of dirt/housing debris/rubbish piles situated across four single-family unit city parcels. Many committed people worked at the site from August 13, 2009 until November when the project was suspended for the winter.
From extensive research, the Ziibiwing Center found that the area now known as the City of Flint was once an established and thriving early Saginaw Chippewa village. To date, the Ziibiwing Center has secured the assistance and support from the Michigan Anishinaabek Cultural Preservation and Repatriation Alliance (MAGPRA), an organization that is comprised of members from the twelve federally-recognized Tribes of Michigan and two state historic Tribes.
At 12pm, on Tuesday, May 11, 2010, the Ziibiwing Center of Anishinabe Culture & Lifeways officially re-opened the Stone Street Ancestral Recovery & Reburial Project site. A Pipe Ceremony, Ground Blessing, Feast, and special presentations prepared the area and workers to resume the ancestral recovery process.
The Ziibiwing Center is inviting volunteers to once again work at the site beginning now thru August on Tuesdays-Saturdays from 9am-3pm. Volunteers will work hand and hand with an experienced Tribal Member work crew; under the supervision of Principal Investigator and Consultant, Dr. Beverley Smith (U of M Flint), and Field Supervisors Frank Raslich (Saginaw Chippewa Tribal Member), his wife Nicole Raslich, and Thomasine MeShawboose (Saginaw Chippewa Tribal Member).
When the recovery process is complete, all ancestral human remains will be reinterred at the site. The land will then be restored, seeded with grass, and become classified as protected property that cannot be commercially developed.
Ways You Can Help
To make food, water, supplies, or monetary donations for the effort
please contact the Ziibiwing Center at (989) 775-4750.
Tuesday-Saturdays, May 11-August, 2010
519 Stone Street
Flint, MI 48503
Dress for the work and the weather. Wear a hat, bring a water bottle, your gardening/work gloves, a lawn chair, and sunscreen. In the event of inclement weather, the project may be suspended for the day(s) – please call the Ziibiwing Center at (989) 775-4750 for up-to-date information.