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Early Massacre?

In September of 1998, construction workers at the ARCO refinery in Carson uncovered an Indian burial site containing 200-year old remains of at least 50 Gabrielinos, including two unborn children. Archaeologist Frank McDowell, excavating the site under the oversight of Gabrielino advisor Sam Dunlap, found evidence that those buried at the site had died suddenly and violently. Skeletal remains showed violent trauma to skulls, ribs, and limbs. The skeletal hands of a woman were found in front of her face as if she had died trying to ward off blows. The spine of another skeleton was snapped backwards to the point where the head was near the pelvis. Some bodies appeared to have been buried with care, but others appeared to have been buried hastily as if thrown into graves. There was also evidence of attempts at cremation. None of the usual items traditionally placed at Gabrielino gravesite, such as fishing implements and grain bowls, were found among the remains. A few Indian artifacts such as basketry and beads were found in the area, as were glass beads from Venice, Italy, (indicating some contact with Europeans). There were no indicators, however, of Christian conversion, though Catholic Missions were already in the area. There was no evidence that Spaniards might have been responsible for this violence as would be indicated by sword wounds to bones or musket balls in the vicinity.

Source: Los Angeles Times, December 11, 1998



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