Skull washes up on Elwha shore

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Chairwoman says it’s likely from ‘old graves’

Sequim Gazette

A human skull found on the banks of the lower Elwha River is almost certainly of “ancestral” origin, said Frances G. Charles, the tribal chairwoman for the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe.

The skull was found Monday, Jan. 2, by Keith Louderback, an employee of the House of Salmon hatchery. He found it on a beach near a residence, Charles said.

She said following the discovery of the skull the tribe’s acting police chief, Phil Charles, called Clallam County Sheriff’s deputies to the scene.

“There was no feeling that it was anything recent,” Frances Charles said.

She said the skull may have washed out from one of the “old graves near where it was found.” She said it’s also possible it is from a burial site further up the Elwha River.

“It almost looks like something that may have been washed up at high tide. There’s that possibility. We’re not saying yes or no,” Charles said, “because everything’s uncertain.”

Charles noted the ongoing removal of two dams on the river occasionally increases the flow in the river, but said the difference hasn’t been significant.

She also said the find is unlikely to halt or slow the removal of the dams.

Bill White, the tribe’s archaeologist, is studying the skull with assistance provided by local law enforcement. Tribal officials say the skull will eventually be reburied.

Reach Mark Couhig at

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