Ignacio Forgotten Cemetery Discovered During Construction Of Elementary School

07/10/2013 09:51 pm ET | Updated Jul 11, 2013

Construction workers in Ignacio, Colorado got more than they bargained for in March when they broke ground to build a new elementary school and uncovered four human bodies.

Three months later that number has grown to 26 bodies and officials aren't sure what do with them or whose remains they are.

According to The Durango Herald, the first human remains were discovered when workers were laying a sewage line and they are thought to be part of a multiethnic burial ground about a century old.

Jann Smith, the La Plata County coroner, told The Associated Press that some of the remains are Native Indian and that a century ago, Ignacio was home to Hispanics, Anglos and Native American Indians.

Construction on the $14.9 million elementary school was scheduled to be completed soon so the school can open in August, but the district has also to comply with state law regarding rediscovered cemeteries and be respectful to the Southern Ute tribe's burial beliefs.

“We just have to deal with it," Ignacio School District Superintendent Rocco Fuschetto said. "I just have to take care of them, culturally and morally do what’s right. They’re still human beings and we still have to treat them with respect.”

Very little is being said about the bodies, which have been taken to Fort Lewis College for further study. The school district has included the Southern Ute Tribe in the excavation, and there is no news yet of whether there are more remains to exhume or whether excavations have delayed the school's opening.

Unearthed

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