Saskenergy is going to extraordinary lengths and depths to preserve a site where ancient human remains were found north of Regina last week.
A pipeline crew unearthed the bone fragments last week while building a natural gas pipeline for the K plus S potash mine near Bethune.
The bones are more than a thousand years old.
The chief of the Carry the Kettle first nation, Barry Kennedy, believes the site is a cemetery and ceremonial site for the Nakota first nation.
He called for a complete halt to digging in the area.
Saskenergy minister Tim McMillan says a number of options were considered and the best one is to put the pipe about 150 feet under the ground for about one kilometer under the site.
“At this point we are looking at boring deep underneath this site to ensure that nothing else is disturbed. Saskenergy has reached out to Chief Kennedy and I understand that he is very pleased that step is being taken.”
McMillan says this sort of thing rarely happens, but when it does, the corporation will take whatever measures are necessary to respect and honour the wishes of the people affected.
“The expectation of everyone in Saskatchewan is that growth is good, prosperity is good, development is good but being respectful of our heritage and culture is something that should not be compromised.”
The remains have been sent to the University of Saskatchewan for analysis by the provinces top forensic anthropologist, Dr. Ernie Walker.
He says the bones have not told him a lot.
“Not very much, the bones are human that’s it. I have only four small pieces, so not a lot to go on. They are indeed human, they are from the leg, both sides, but they are very incomplete.”
The biggest piece is about three or four inches long from a thigh bone.
Dr. Walker says he hopes to be able to pinpoint a more exact age of the fragments and perhaps the age and sex of the person.
He says little else can be determined because of the small size of the pieces.
Once his work is complete, the fragments will be turned over to the Carry the Kettle first nation for re-burial.
Dr. Walker is a professor at the University of Saskatchewan.
He is also a special constable with the RCMP assisting them in cases where human remains need to be identified.