Tennessee was home to many tribes and when they were relocated - this was the genocidal forced removal was the beginning that led to the Trail of Tears - towns were built over the homes and graves of these displaced peoples.
Quote from informed archaeologist:
"In the past 20 years over 150,000 human burials have been exhumed in Tennessee alone. That is, more than 150,000 indigenous or American Indian burials. These were originally treated as some kind of left overs from people who are now extinct, a notion that could not be further from the truth." You know who.
Many artifacts and body parts were taken to such institutions as the Smithsonian Museum. Some were kept by other grave robbers and this is still a profitable business.
Because of several new laws - see links - that attitude can no longer prevail.
Here are three examples of the changing times:
Email to announce upcoming events, with online links to each statement made concerning:
Save Moccasin Bend from development
Save Moccasin Bend from grave robbers
Save Moccasin Bend for its 14,000 years of human history and its natural beauty Chattanooga.net
We request your participation in 7 pre-election monthly marches from Moccasin Bend to downtown Chattanooga to Save Moccasin Bend for future generations by making it Moccasin Bend National Park. Save Moccasin Bend
All 956 acres, including the 150 acres of public land that has been leased out to the MB Golf Course that Rep. Zach Wamp thinks can be 'removed' from the preservation efforts and kept out of the Park. Wamp Says Bill For Park Would Spare Golf Course
All the recent efforts to make Moccasin Bend into a National Park have been stopped: Bend Plan Put on Hold
In order to Save the Bend, we need to re-pressurize both the issue and the local, regional, state and national politicos.
Tribal representatives, local native americans, local city and county leaders, and the National Park Service all agreed that the best way to preserve the 14,000 years of native american cultural history (and Civil War sites) is to give the city, county, state and private land all to the National Park Service so that US federal laws, including NAGPRA and ARPA, would apply. Indian leaders come back to Bend park
Rep. Zach Wamp has backed off the whole issue; the "Friends of Moccasin Bend National Park" have caved in to slicing out the MB Golf Course and settling for an 800-acre reduced park. Friends of MBNP letter, 2/10/2000
"Friends of Moccasin Bend National Park" don't even mention local native american preservationist efforts in their: Links webpage.
Join us on these six remaining marches:
If you can't make it, order a "Save the Bend! 2000" t-shirt to wear around to other events to educate folks about this issue that won't go away until it's solidly protected. $10)
Photos of Trail of Tears: Townsend, TN. TNARCH in the News: Newspaper Articles
Editor Note: I have perhaps 100 files pertaining to Townsend on my computer, and there was some wild email flying. Someone who claimed to be on the scene caused no small stir, but cool heads prevailed, and the outcome to this point has been positive and fruitful.
A summation is that this is a site that is of importance to these folks, and should be respected. The archaeological information here is of great value, but the policy in all discoveries should be look, don't touch. End Note.
Here is the email unedited:
Date: Sunday, April 02, 2000 12:40 PM
They told us we had "no chance" to keep Little Cedar Mtn. aka Nickajack Town safe to. No major Cherokee tribe backing us, no help from our own, "might be bad for business, don't ya know?" But we kicked their ooks into the lake anyway. and together, we CAN do it again and, WE MUST! Over and over till they learn "We're not going to take it anymore!"
PS. Meet the new Chickamaugans
LOOK WHAT WE HAVE DONE. Thru prayer, letting others know how we feel and standing our ground we have come this far. When so many told us we had NO CHANCE, now we do.
But this is FAR from over. We still must be vigal in our prayers and in letting all know how we feel and where we stand. It is our voice that made all the others listen. It was our prayers that the Great Spirit took and touched others with.
I want to say wadv and keep it going until the circle is so large that
we meet hand in hand around the world.
Indians consulted for three hours in Nashville with representatives of the Tennessee Department of Transportation and Federal Highway Administration. Federal Advisory Council on Historic Preservation officials also participated.
The Indian representatives proposed several alternatives to construction of the five-lane road as designed:
Once a potential grave is found, archeologists slow down the work, and when a bone is found the area is filled back in with soil. It is then up to the consulting group of Native American and government representatives to determine what to do with the burials. By far the main preference of the Native American tribal representatives was to leave the graves in place -- in situ, as it is called.
In agreement on this were Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indian Cultural Director James Bird, Lt. Gov. of the Chickasaw Indian Nation of Oklahoma Jefferson Keel and Corky Allen of the Kialegee Tribe (part of the Creek Indian Federation). A Choctaw representative arrived late in the meeting.
"Leave the remains alone. The remains should stay in the ground where they were initially put," Keel of the Chickasaws said.
Bird of the Cherokees said interest in the project by federal historical officials showed the decisions should not be made without input from outside the highway departments. "The fact that the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation got involved underscored for the Federal Highway Administration and TDOT the importance of the tribes being involved in the decision-making process."
Allen of the Kialegees reiterated his request for documentation on the entire project. That would show how decisions have been made to this point and include a chronology of the project from 1949, when the right of way was purchased. Three hundred feet of road frontage was initially purchased so the road could be eventually widened from the two lanes built in the early 50s.
"The most significant thing to come out of the meeting is that it finally looks like the tribes will all get the needed documents on the project," Allen said. "How can you make a decision on something, if you do not have the documents in front of you?" Allen asked.
Keel stressed that the Indian groups would be part of the decision-making. "This is a consultation, and we're going to be involved in the process. I don't need to be reminded of where I stand in the process, Keel said.
Heape said the most significant development to him was "we now have the understanding that decisions have to be made and all possible alternatives now have to be considered." He added, "It's clear in my mind there are Cherokee buried there because of the preponderance of Cherokee in Tuckaleechee Cove at that time.''
Bentz of UT said archeologists found items dating back to 500 B.C. and to the mid-1700s, representing Early and Middle Woodland and Mississipian periods in archeological history. Bentz stressed he has no idea how many more graves will be found, but he expects several more to be discovered in a more heavily settled area under excavation.
Bird suggested the road project be halted. "Why not terminate the road? What price of a natural treasure is being paid for a 800-meter road? Why can't you stop the road where it is now?" Bird asked.
Heape agreed. `"I'd like to know why they don't leave it like it is. At this point, we don't have the documentation on why the road is needed," Heape said.
Allen was also disturbed that some highway officials implied that state rather than federal law would take precedence. He said the sites qualify under the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act.
TDOT and Federal Highway Administration officials were adamant that the rules are being followed. Mark Doctor, of the highway administration, said documentation TDOT has provided shows there basically is no alternative to where the road is now planned.
A TDOT representative said his department is looking at ways to build around the burials, but some graves would be affected.
Federal and state highway representatives promised to provide the requested documents before another consultation meeting, for which a date has not been set.
Carl "Two-Feathers" Whitaker, head of the Native American Indian Movement, said, "The meeting should be held at the site where all the participants can see what they're talking about."
Since 80 percent of the funding is federal, federal guidelines must be followed.
Among those attending the meeting were UT archeology students who have worked at the dig site.
Ten thousand years ago (8,000 B.C.) where the Guyandotte and Mud Rivers
meet in West Virginia, hunters built fire pits and sat down for a meal.
They left pottery shards, an indication that they were changing from
their wandering ways.
This discovery was made while bodies were being moved from an
1830-1850 graveyard that was used by the Merritts and the Strupes,
founders in that area.
Though a Morgantown archaeologist, Gloria Gozdzik, says that the hunting
ground "Is an impressive find," excavation has gone ahead to make way for
a state prison.
Back to Four Corners Clamor Index
Four Corners Postcard
American Indian Religious Freedom Act
Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979
Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act
United Nations Convention on Genocide
Ten thousand years ago (8,000 B.C.) where the Guyandotte and Mud Rivers meet in West Virginia, hunters built fire pits and sat down for a meal. They left pottery shards, an indication that they were changing from their wandering ways.
This discovery was made while bodies were being moved from an 1830-1850 graveyard that was used by the Merritts and the Strupes, founders in that area.
Though a Morgantown archaeologist, Gloria Gozdzik, says that the hunting ground "Is an impressive find," excavation has gone ahead to make way for a state prison.
Back to Four Corners Clamor Index
Back to Four Corners Postcard