FORT WORTH, Texas -- They wrapped her bones tightly in a blanket, on a bed of bamboo, and lowered her into the ground, the smoke from a smoldering pot of sage rising behind them.
Kui Red Eagle, draped with a green shawl, then knelt over the grave at Oakwood Cemetery and sang in Lakota.
“I was telling her thank you,” said Red Eagle, a Fort Worth woman with deep ties to the Lakota and Comanche tribes. “Thank you for the validation. Thank you for showing yourself.”
Red Eagle and about 30 others, including Tarrant County District Attorney Sharen Wilson, held a burial ceremony Thursday evening for the unidentified Native American woman, whose remains are believed to be about 1,100 years old.
The remains were found in March 2016 by construction workers who were digging a trench at the corner of Lexington and Weatherford in downtown Fort Worth.
Dana Austin, an anthropologist with the Tarrant County medical examiner's office, used radiocarbon dating to determine the age of the remains and estimated the woman was likely in her 30s and buried between 790 a.d. and 990 a.d.
The discovery was rare. Only a handful of similar cases over the last 20 years have been investigated by the medical examiner's office and each one involved remains from about the same time frame, Austin said.