- Associated Press - Sunday, April 20, 2014

SUTTONS BAY TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) - A skull that was apparently passed down through generations of a northern Michigan family has been turned over to an Indian group in a repatriation ceremony.

The family doesn’t want its name known, according to Leelanau County Sheriff Mike Borkovich. He told the Traverse City Record-Eagle (https://bit.ly/1jWw5T5 ) that the family gave the skull to his office in Sutton’s Bay Township in the northwestern Lower Peninsula.

The skull had been in the family for years, Borkovich said. He said an elderly family member died and younger members didn’t want it.

According to family lore, a family member was a mariner on the Great Lakes, the sheriff said. He said the family member stopped at Beaver Island, where a Native American offered him the skull, according to the story.

“In that era, things were done differently,” Borkovich said. “Apparently, he purchased the skull and it was in the family for years and years.”

Borkovich said his department sent it Michigan State University for tests.

“We did not know if that story was true or not,” Borkovich said. “We did not know it wasn’t a 10-year-old skull, for instance.”

The tests determined that the skull was that of an Indian man who was at least 25 years old and it dated from the 1800s, Borkovich said.

The sheriff said he gave the skull to the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians, which performed a repatriation ceremony Friday.

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Information from: Traverse City Record-Eagle, https://www.record-eagle.com

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