San Miguel Island off the coast of California. Photo: Glenn Allen / U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Native ancestor laid back to rest more than 10,000 years after burial
An ancestor of the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians has been laid to rest again in California.

Tuqan Man lived on the Channel Islands more than 10,000 years ago. Following study by the National Park Service, he was returned to the tribe under the provisions of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act.

“Protecting the final resting places of our ancestors is of paramount importance to the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians,” Chairman Kenneth Kahn said in an NPS press release. “When our tribe learned of the discovery made by archeologists on San Miguel Island, we made it a priority to ensure that our ancestor was laid to rest with a proper burial. Thanks to years of cooperation with the National Park Service, we were granted that opportunity.”

Tuqan Man was inadvertently discovered on San Miguel Island in 2005, according to the NPS. He was buried a grave marked with stones, The Ventura County Star reported.

Scientists attempted to extract DNA from the ancestor but were not successful, the paper said. But archaeologist Jon Erlandson, who was part of the University of Oregon team that came upon the remains more than a decade ago, has no doubt about his tribal origins.

“We know Native Americans have been here for 15,000 years," Erlandson told the paper. "Kennewick Man, much like Tuqan Man, is 5,000 years younger than that.”

Genetic studies of other ancestral remains, including the Kennewick Man, have shown a connection with present-day Native Americans.


Tuqan is the Chumash name for San Miguel Island. The tribe lived there, and on other parts of the Channel Islands, until the 1820s, when the last of their population was forced to move to the mainland, according to the NPS.

Many were then sent to Indian missions, according to Cultural Affiliation and Lineal Descent of Chumash Peoples in the Channel Islands and the Santa Monica Mountains, a 1999 paper by Sally McLendon and John R Johnson.

The Santa Ynez Band is now based on a reservation in Santa Barbara County that was established in 1901.

Read More on the Story:
Tuqan Man, human remains buried 10,000 years ago, found on the Channel Islands (The Ventura County Star June 13, 2018)
Chumash ancient remains return to the Channel Islands (KEYT June 13, 2018)
Ancient Native American returned to resting place on San Miguel Island (The Lompoc Record June 14, 2018)

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