The 2,000-year-old site remains under temporary protection laid in 2003.
But today, the Circle--a series of loaf-shaped holes chiseled into the limestone bedrock at the mouth of the Miami River--is interred beneath bags of sand and gravel, laid over the formation in 2003 to protect it from the elements.
And though taxpayers shelled out $27.6 million to purchase the 38-foot Circle and its surrounding two acres, visitors to the site's planned archaeological park likely will never see the actual work of some of Miami's earliest inhabitants.
And Catherine Hummingbird Ramirez, a self-styled Carib tribal queen, still conducts a purification ceremony there every Tuesday. Waving a smoldering pot of sacred grasses over anyone who shows up, she says she is honoring her ancestors and imbuing visitors with the site's "powerful positive energy." Sometimes, dozens come; sometimes just one.
Lately, her meditations are barely audible over the rumble of cement mixers and cranes building a 56-story condo-hotel next door. It casts a long shadow over the Circle property, but the archaeologist who helped save it finds that fitting.
"That's an incredible statement about the balance between development and preservation," Carr said.
Note: I'd say the Miami Circle lacks the gravitas of Chaco Canyon and the Newark Earthworks (America's Stonehenge nos. 1 and 2). But at least it's circular, like Stonehenge but unlike the Earthworks.