Indigenous remains found during Twin Ports Interchange construction

Work in one area of the Twin Ports Interchange project has been paused due to indigenous remains being found. 

The Duluth Police Department confirmed with WDIO News that officers responded to the report of a “possible human bone” on February 14. An archaeologist determined that the bone found is a partial jaw bone. 

The Duluth News Tribune is reporting additional information. The paper reports that Dylan Goetsch, the field investigator for the Minnesota Indian Affairs Council, told the paper that the find triggered Minnesota’s Private Cemeteries Act as well as the federal Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act.

The DNT reports that this is the only find since the highway’s original construction in the 1960s and 70s, including the “Can of Worms” project that has been underway since 2020.

MNDOT District Engineer Duane Hill told the DNT that the project’s “Unanticipated Discovery Plan” was implemented when the “sensitive cultural material” was discovered.

Proper agencies and tribal nations are informed of the find under this plan, and work in that area is brought to a halt to avoid additional burial disturbances. 

Impacts of the discovery on the Twin Ports Interchange Project are unknown at this time, and crews at the specific site have been moved to other locations within the project.