U.S. Army Corps of Engineers works to determine history of found skull fragment

<p>Snake River</p>

Snake River

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is trying to determine the history behind a human skull fragment found in the Snake River over the weekend.

A spokesman from the Army Corps of Engineers says the human skull fragment appears to be very old, possibly from hundreds of years ago.

Walla Walla County sheriff's deputies say a couple from Kennewick found the skull fragment in the Snake River on Sunday.

They found the fragment on the south shore of the river in between the Ice Harbor Dam and the Lower Monumental Dam.

The couple was looking for freshwater clams when they found the fragment in about three feet of water.

Sheriff's deputies say the fragment is about one-third or one-fourth the size of an entire human skull.

They say preliminary examinations show the skull belonged to a Native American man, who was around 40 years old when he died.

"The initial preliminary determination is that the skull fragment is not modern remains, but older remains. We don't know exactly how old, but we will next send that to a physical anthropologist according to our usual procedure" said Bruce Henrickson, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers spokesman.

The anthropologist will work to determine more specific information about the human, including cultural affiliation - that process is expected to take a couple weeks.

Once examiners have more information, they will try to identify any descendants or members of that person's tribe, so the remains can be passed on to them.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is also warning residents not to go out to the area where the fragment was found and start looking for other items - that is against federal law.