Skull found in Minnesota River to be returned to Native American officials

A human skull found in the Minnesota River that’s estimated at being 8,000 years old will be returned to Native American officials.

Two kayakers found the partial skull in September 2021 near Sacred Heart, Minnesota, after the drought lowered the water levels in the river, the Renville County Sheriff’s Office said.

A forensic anthropologist determined the bone belonged to a young man. Through Carbon-14 analysis, preliminary information indicates the man would have been alive between 5,500-6,000 BCE, so nearly 8,000 years ago, the sheriff's office said. 

"Carbon-14 from the atmosphere via food is incorporated into bones while the bones are maturing. Through reviewing the Carbon-14, this individual would have had a heavy marine diet or a diet high in maize, pearl millet, or sorghum, which is outside the range of the American diet," the sheriff's office noted. 

The skull has a depressed area, which is consistent with blunt force trauma, the sheriff's office said. 

The sheriff’s office last week posted the photos on Facebook but removed them after Native American officials said sharing them was offensive to their culture.

Sacred Heart is located in western Minnesota, about 114 miles west of Minneapolis.