While experts are not completely sure how it was obtained, a skull that has been passed down through generations by a Michigan family has been returned to its Native American ancestors.

Even the family is unclear exactly how the skull managed to find its way into their possession. All that is known is that many years ago, a member of their family who worked as a mariner on the Great Lakes was given the skull by a Native American.

“In that era, things were done differently,” Leelanau County Sheriff Mike Borkovich recently told the Associated Press. “Apparently, he purchased the skull and it was in the family for years and years.”

Younger members of the family decided they no longer wanted the skull, so they turned it over to authorities in Sutton’s Bay Township.

The skull was sent to Michigan State University in an attempt to learn more about its origins. “We did not know if that story was true or not,” said Borkovich. “We did not know it wasn’t a 10-year-old skull, for instance.”

Researchers discovered the skull belonged to a 25-year-old Indian man from around the 1800s. It has been since turned over to the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians.

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