The lawsuit claims large areas of Newport Estates may be built on Indian burial ground
Developers began construction on Newport Estates in 1998 despite years of acknowledging the potential archaeological resources in the area
In 2001 workers found human remains at the site for Unit 1 which halted construction
In 2015 remains were found but ignored while construction continued
Text messages show a supervisor told a worker to “hide that shit” in a text message regarding human remains
It sounds like the backstory for the 1982 horror classic Poltergeist. In West Sacremento, several construction companies are named in a lawsuit filed by Yolo County District Attorney Jeff Reisig for ignoring evidence that areas of Newport Estates was being built on Indian burial ground.
The land is known to have been used by the Patwin Tribe. In the lawsuit against Seecon Financial & Construction, Discovery Builders, Albert D Seeno Construction, and A-S Pipelines, it claims not only was it known they were developing on Indian burial ground, but workers were told to “hide that shit” when addressing an issue of finding bones with a superior.
The lawsuit states that in 1998 materials provided for Newport Estates under the California Environmental Quality Act showed large areas suspected to be burial grounds. In 1986, a survey that covered the Newport Estates property “similarly showed large swaths of Newport Estates to lie within area suspected to contain archaeological resources.”
The City of West Sacramento’s 1994 draft Environmental Impact Report also noted large portions of Newport Estates were suspected to contain archaeological resources. The area was again recognized for potential archaeological significance in the 1998 Environmental Review.
The City’s Mitigated Negative Declaration stated “[t]here are significant cultural or archaeological sites identified in the 1990 [City of West Sacremento] General Plains within the project area.”
According to the MND, whenever a possible archaeological remain was encountered all work was to be stopped within 65 feet of the discovery. Work was to stop until a professional archaeologist was able to determine the significance of the area and recommend appropriate mitigation.
On May 1, 1998, the City of West Sacramento prepared a mitigation monitoring program. In the MMP, it reiterated that if any remains were found all work within 65 feet of the discovery must come to stop until an archaeologist was contacted and allowed to recommend mitigation.
Construction on Newport Estates began in 1998 but was ceased in March of 2001 when workers discovered a “Native American burial in Unit 1.”
The company followed the MMP and contacted an archaeologist who contacted the Native American tribe most likely affiliated with the burial. Archaeologist then assisted a tribal member with removing the remains for relocation elsewhere.
It would seem the practice of reporting any possible Native American remains found during construction did not continue over the years of development.
On October 6, 2015, American Underground Contractor—a subcontractor of Discovery Builders—discovered human remains at around 8:00 am. Shortly after 9:00 am, a worker from American Underground Contractor notified Discovery Builders of the find.
The worker sent an image of the human remains in a text message to a superior with Discovery Builders. After sending the picture, the worker asks “We dug this out should we call the police.” The superior from Discovery Builders responds, “No. Give me 2 minutes. Need to hide that shit now.”
Work did not stop after the discovery. The company did not contact the West Sacramento Police Department, Yolo County Coroner, or an archaeologist as agreed in the MMP. WSPD later learned of the discovery through a media outlet on the evening of October 6, 2015.
On October 7, 2015, WSPD visited Newport Estates to inquire about the humans remains discovered the day before. Police say the company acknowledged that human remains were found on the property.
At the City of West Sacramento’s request, the developers called an archaeologist to inspect other portions of Newport Estates for human remains. On October 16, 2015, the archaeologist reported that “scattered remains” were found in Unit 11 of Newport Estates. When the remains were initially discovered in Unit 11, the company continued “excavation and development activities” in the area without contacting anybody.