Nambe man finds remains under his home

Sante Fe, New Mexico (AP) December 2010

Nambe resident Jerome Valdez has no plans to move the remains of two early American Indians that were found buried beneath his home north of Santa Fe.

Valdez unearthed two graves last week while digging a trench for a new sewer line in the crawl space beneath the house his father built 50 years ago.

“I just started noticing bones, but I thought they were maybe a dog or something,” he said. “And then when I exposed the skulls, I was like, ‘Oh my goodness! It’s a human!”’

Stephen Post of the state Office of Archaeological Studies inspected the site last week and quickly identified the graves as American Indian, based on the way the bodies were arranged. He dated them to between A.D. 1200 and 1400, based on shards of black and white pottery and cooking ware found with the graves.

Post said the remains likely belonged to ancestors of the nearby Nambe or Pojoaque pueblos.

Valdez, a 44-year-old pipefitter at Los Alamos National Laboratory, said pre-Columbian remains are commonly found in the area.

He found the bones at 20 to 30 inches below grade, but said they probably were deeper before his father leveled off a little hill to build the family home around 1959.

“I’m glad it’s over,” he said last week after Post left his house. “Out of respect, I’m just leaving them right where they’re at.”

Post said when someone unearths human remains, the best advice is to re-cover them.

“The first choice is to leave any archaeological deposit, including human remains, in place, if possible,” he said.