500-Year Old Skull Found

500-Year Old Skull Found

Teenagers Ethan Coleman, Tyler Zustiak, Hunter Endicott, and Matthew Teel found a human skull in Southeast Kansas

The skull was turned over to the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office, which then contacted a forensic anthropologist at K-State. According to the anthropologist, the skull most likely was that of 30 to 50-year old Native American man who died more than 500 years ago.

The area surrounding Shermerhorn Park, South of Galena, is no stranger to Native American artifacts. The SEK Nature Center Collects donated items found around the area, with thousands of artifacts in possession.

“Especially with the rain that we get in this region, it’s quite common for people to find things. Or at least broken pieces of arrowheads and things like that,” Director of the SEK Nature Center, Jennifer Rader said.

But four Riverton freshman may have topped all of that with their discovery of an estimated 500-year old Native American skull. The four were out fishing when they found it.

“Me and Teel stumbled across this dome shaped thing in the ground,” Hunter Endicott said. “Well, first thing that came to mind was a turtle shell. Was automatically what I thought.”

“So I started kicking it, of course,” Matthew Teel said. “And then we started looking down at it. And kinda looked at it more and realized that kinda looks like a human skull.”

“We found the main frame kind of thing and then we found little pieces of it and put it together like a puzzle,” Ethan Coleman said.
“That’s what really sealed the deal because it fit together perfectly,” Endicott said. “Just perfect.”

The four called Coleman’s father.

“Hey dad, we found a human skull,” Coleman remembered. [Dad] laughed at first.”

“When he got there we said ‘hey we found a human skull’,” Teel said. “And he was like, ‘oh really’? And then he walks over there, his eyes get big, and he was like, ‘oh’..”

Now that a forensic anthropologist has hypothesized it’s origin, the four are unsure what will happen next.

“I want it to go to the Baxter Museum, I think it’d be pretty cool there,” Coleman said. “Like, we put that there. That would be awesome”

The Baxter Springs Museum said it cannot accept Native American remains. Those have to be returned to the tribe. The skull currently resides in the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office.

An official with the Quapaw tribe who deals with lineal heritage heard about the skull Tuesday and is reaching out to the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office.