Human remains of Native American found near Salinas River
Workers digging a construction site off Ramada Drive near the Salinas River uncovered human skeletal remains Wednesday, according to a city official.
Contractors notified the city and the San Luis Obispo County Coroner was called in to investigate. After an examination on the same day, the coroner determined the bones were not part of a crime scene, but Native American human remains, says Clyde Ganes, a deputy building official at the city of Paso Robles.
The California Native American Heritage Commission, a state agency, was notified and dispatched a representative to decide to relocate or re-inter the bones. The remains were probably hundreds and hundreds of years old, Ganes said. There were no artifacts found near the bones, he said. The status of the remains was not released by officials.
“This is very rare,” Ganes said. “It’s the first time in my seven years of working at the city that Native American remains have been found,” he said. The last time was during the construction of Walmart, he said.
The crew was excavating a basin for a waste water treatment plant that Firestone Brewery is building behind it’s facility at 1400 Ramada Drive. The site is east of the railroad tracks near the Salinas River.
City officials issued a “stop work” order on the site, which Ganes expects will be lifted shortly. Firestone followed all the monitoring requirements, Ganes said.
Paso Robles was once part of the Salinan tribe, a Native American people who lived in what is now the Central Coast of California, based in the Salinas Valley and stretching south to the Chumash. Once said to have gone extinct by the U.S. Census of 1930, the Salinan Native Americans survived and are now in the process of applying for tribal recognition from the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs. It is estimated that there were at least 3,000 Salinans at their peak.
The Spanish found the Salinan a “friendly and charitable people,” who they were able to recruit rapidly into the mission system, according to the California Missions Resource Center. Unlike some other tribes, they adapted easily to mission life. As a result, San Antonio de Padua, grew rapidly. Within 20 years it was the largest of the central California missions.
There were two major divisions, the San Miguel in the south, on the upper course of the Salinas River and the San Antonio in the north, in the lower part of the Salinas Basin, corresponding to the two missions in the Salinas Valley – Mission San Antonio de Padua and Mission San Miguel Arcángel, according to Wikipedia. There were a Playano group which lived on the Pacific Coast in the vicinity of what is now San Simeon and Lucia. The Salinans lived by hunting and gathering and were organized in small groups with little centralized political structure.