On June 21, a grave unearthed at the Gastineau Community School in Juneau was identified as belonging to Sam Goldstein, a Chilkat man who died in 1927. Construction then came to a halt this month after several ‘anomalies’ were found. On Tuesday, the Juneau Empire announced that the city had misidentified the grave, which in fact belonged to a young woman whose identity was unknown.
Now Deputy City Manager Rob Steedle tells the Juneau Empire that five individuals, including an unborn child and mother, have been unearthed and reinterred. The total number of bodies remaining on the site has not been determined.
The Douglas Indian Association held a blessing ceremony to honor the dead on Tuesday. Tribal administrator, Andrea Cadiente-Laiti, told the Juneau Empire, “It was a very difficult time for us.”
Helen Sarabia, elder of the Gaanaxteidi clan, told the Juneau Empire, “These were my stomping grounds, as you might say. I’m sure I know most of these people that are buried here. And God rest their souls.”
In spite of the grief the discovery has caused the Native community, elders have decided to approve continuation of the construction. Cadiente-Laiti said the decision to continue work on school grounds was made “for our children”.
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