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Burial sites along 253rd Avenue? Results unclear

The use of ground-penetrating radar has not resolved the question of whether there are Native American tribal remains along the planned route of road construction along Northwest 253rd Avenue in Hillsboro.

The city of Hillsboro is hoping to widen and extend 253rd Avenue from Northwest Evergreen Parkway to Meek Road. The roadway, currently a gravel road, is in line to be paved and extended to connect with Meek Road. The current outlet for Meek Road — on Evergreen Parkway — will soon be closed to accommodate reconstruction of the nearby Highway 26 interchange.

The area is being developed due to an increasing demand for industrial land, but families whose relatives lived in the area over the course of several generations believe there was a graveyard in the immediate area of the road construction project. They contend it’s likely several Nez Perce children were buried there.

On May 6, a team of technicians from the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation came to the site with ground-penetrating radar and began testing the area for “anomalies” that could signal the resting place for human remains. The technicians wrapped up their work on May 9.

“Preliminary results of ground-penetrating radar performed by SWCA Environmental Consultants and the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation earlier this month were inconclusive,” explained Patrick Preston, public affairs manager for the city of Hillsboro. “The type of soil made it difficult to draw conclusions from the initial readings. Anomalies found in four out of 14 grid areas on Northwest 253rd Avenue require further examination. There is an indication that the anomalies could be associated with past land use.”

According to Preston, the next step is to develop a field plan to determine what the anomalies represent via a combination of hand excavation and backhoe exploration. The sites where the excavations will take place will first be reviewed by the Oregon State Historic Preservation Office, as well as affected tribes.

Preston said the excavations are tentatively planned for mid-June, but the work is not expected to halt road construction at the site.

“The project remains on schedule while we work to determine what the anomalies represent,” Preston said.




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