Native American remains found during fishing trip in Merced County


The finding was made along a Merced County canal near Highway 140 and Keaton Road. The family uncovered skeletal ruins by a mud bank and recorded it on a cell phone. In it, you can see what appeared to be a human skull. "There was a skull and there were a couple other bones already there. My cousin started digging," said Jaime Llamas of Merced. He captured the footage on his cell phone on Sunday.

Llamas said family members were fishing along the canal when they saw a bone sticking out from the mud bank. "We knew it was there for a long time. We just didn't know what it was," said Llamas. They continued to search and dig along the eroded mud slide and discovered bone after bone. "We were still in denial. We were still trying to determine if it was a human bone," said Llamas.

The Merced County Sheriff's office was called out to investigate. The county coroner's forensic team took the bones and determined they were Native American remains believed to be more than 100 years old.

"It's really not unique to find Native American remains in certain parts of Merced County," said Sheriff Mark Pazin. It turns out the area where they were discovered was an old Indian burial site. "When we do come across these Native American remains that they're properly reburied in a site in accordance with procedures, protocol with the Native American customs," said Pazin.

Llamas said he didn't realize what he was digging up would turn out to be so historical. "It was in no way to be disrespectful. If anything, we wanted to make sure someone went out there and took care of it. Everyone deserves a proper burial," said Llamas.

The remains are still with the Merced County coroner's office and have yet to be traced to an ancestral tribe. On Friday, the Native American Indian Commission will retrieve them and give them a proper burial.

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