Date of Award

Spring 2016

Degree Type

Honors Project


College of Liberal Arts

First Advisor

Susan Myster


A commingled sample of human skeletal remains from Acacia Park Cemetery in Mendota Heights, Minnesota was analyzed to address the commingled context, reconstruct the demographic profile, and make interpretations regarding health status and activity patterns. Prior to increasing European settlement during the 1800s in Minnesota, the site was known as “Oheyawahi” by the Dakota who used this site for burials and important ceremonies. In the 1920s a Masonic group in Minnesota purchased land at this site and founded Acacia Park Memorial Cemetery. Throughout the use of the cemetery, previous burials were disturbed and some of these remains were subsequently moved to a sheltered vault on the property. As a result of correspondence between the State Archaeologist Office, Minnesota Indian Affairs Council, and Acacia Park Cemetery, the contents of that vault were transported to the Hamline University Osteology Laboratory in 2004. This research project is the first to holistically analyze each individual of this skeletal sample. To address the commingled context, metric and visual analysis generated inventory data which was used to estimate how many individuals are present. Through the initial assessment, the minimum number of individuals was determined to be 25 and the most likely number of individuals was statistically estimated to be 26. After segregating each individual in the sample, a variety of techniques considered to be standards in the field of human osteology were applied to estimate each individual’s biological profile: their age at death, sex, stature, and ancestry. Further analyses of each individual of this sample provided insight into their health status during life and activity patterns. Collectively, all of this data about each individual has been used to reconstruct the demographic profile for this sample and contribute knowledge to what is known about life in the Twin Cities region of Minnesota during the 1800s and prior.








Departmental Honors Project