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Human remains found in Montecito determined to be Native American

MONTECITO, Calif. - Skeletal remains that were uncovered at a construction site in Montecito are Native American according to the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office.

The remains were found during a work project on private property near Mountain Drive. At the time of their discovery, the exact location where the remains were recovered was not released. On Thursday, the santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office said they were located on the 800 block of Riven Rock Road.

Skeletal remains were found at a previously undisclosed location in the Montecito hills. (John Palminteri/KEYT)

The sheriff's office also announced that an expert had determined the remains were Native American.

"During the preliminary investigation, Coroner’s detectives noted that the bones appeared to be from a non-recent death, were yellowing and in a state of decomposition and deterioration. Detectives also noted that the teeth appeared to have been worn down in a manner that is consistent with a much rougher diet that would cause that type of wear, similar to Native Americans," the sheriff's office said in a news release.

Dr. Rick Snow, a forensic anthropology consultant for the sheriff's office, analyzed the remains and the site where they were recovered. Snow determined that the remains are those of a Native American male of an unknown age. The remains are not a complete skeleton, the sheriff's office said, as they are mostly fragments and most of the bones that make up the hands and feet are missing.

The State of California Native America Heritage Commission (NAHC) has been made aware of the discovery, the sheriff's office said. The coroner's office will work with the commission to release the remains. The NAHC will now try to determine which tribe the person belonged to and then get in contact with that tribe.

If you discover human remains that may be Native American, there are steps to take to make sure the remains are handled properly and respectfully. For more information, visit

Article Topic Follows: Santa Barbara - South County
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Travis Schlepp

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