Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Protecting Our Cultural Resources

A few weeks ago, while visiting Tallahassee, Florida, I took a trip to see a number of Native American ceremonial dirt mounds dating to the 1st millennium AD. The Letchworth Mound is believed to be the largest ceremonial mound in the state of Florida, measuring at nearly 50 feet tall and covering an area of 300 square feet at the base. The mound and others nearby are attributed to the Weeden Island culture, which is related to a much larger sphere of influence that extends from the Southeast into the Midwest.

Some Native American sites, including the Letchworth Mounds, are protected as National Historic Sites or State Parks, but all cultural resources are given the chance to be saved by the National Historic Preservation Act, which requires a review process if a federally-funded project will impact an archaeological site.

I was all the more disturbed, then, when I read a recent article about the destruction of a Native American stone mound further north near Jacksonville, Alabama. Even though the local Historic Preservation Office recommended that the site be protected, city officials decided that the construction project that had been taking place should continue. You can read the original article and follow the story here. Where should we draw the line between progress and the protection of our cultural and natural resources?

No comments: