Walmart and the Mound Builders
By Heather Pringle
Scholars hotly debated the issue, and eventually the Smithsonian Institution established its own Division of Mound Exploration, hoping to crack the mystery. After years of meticulous study, Cyrus Thomas, head of the Division, announced in 1894 that “the links directly connecting the Indians and the mound-builders are so numerous and well established, that archaeologists are justified in accepting the theory that they are one and the same people.”
Since then, I am sorry to say, the intense public interest in prehistoric mounds has largely dissipated. Indeed as archaeologists learn more and more about the rich variety of mound-building cultures, from the Poverty Point people to the Hopewell, fewer and fewer people take any notice. We seem, somehow, to have misplaced our sense of awe and wonder. And perhaps this is why politicians in Oxford, Alabama, recently gave a private contractor the right to level a major prehistoric mound for fill dirt for the foundation of a new big box store—Sam’s Club, owned by Walmart.
Local archaeologists and Native Americans are up in arms about this. As Jacksonville State University archaeologist Harry Holstein pointed out in one article, “There is substantial ethnographic and archaeological evidence from similar stone mound sites throughout the eastern United States that these stone mounds, walls and effigies atop mountains, ridges and plateaus were built to commemorate deceased loved ones and important events and bury sacred offerings.”
But when the opponents voiced their deep concerns about the destruction of the mound, Oxford’s mayor and city project manager apparently shrugged them off. According to a report in a local paper, The Anniston Star, Mayor Leon Smith claimed the mound was used for little more than sending smoke signals. I find this a bizarre and belittling claim, one that flies in the face of scientific evidence on mound-building cultures and the ceremonial way in which they often raised these impressive earthen edifices.
The Archaeological Resource Laboratory of Jacksonville State University conducted a Phase I survey on some property that was going to be (now is) developed by the City of Oxford in 2006. Recorded 14 multicomponent sites and revisited 13 previously recorded ones along Choccolocco Creek just south of Oxford. Recommended preservation on several including, 1Ca196, a Mississippian earthen temple mound. Oh , by the way this ceremonial site may be the 16th Century De Soto Expedition Spanish contact site of Ulibahali. Leon Smith, Mayor of Oxford was not happy with our recommendations. We also at the time informed them (Oxford officials) about the large (42 feet x 18 feet x 6 feet) stone mound atop the hill behind the new Sam’s Club and of its prehistoric importance. The City said it would not touch the stone mound. So much for words!!! The bad news is there are several other multicomponent sites, slave house sites, and a NRHP 1850s Plantation house across the street from the hill and development and Oxford has its eyes on it next for development. I have suggested this area be turned into a welcome center, museum and rest area for I-20 (which lies within sight of Indiana I Farm House). Suggestion again has fallen on deaf ears by the City of Oxford! I too wish those in power would have more insight to preserve rather than destroy the past!!!
Harry Holstein, PH. D.
Carolyn Chambliss (Italy) wrote:
Yes the Mayor and the city council was not only dishonest but broke their promises to the The Archaeological Resource Laboratory of Jacksonville State University who gave an excellent argument for not only preserving the site, but expanding it to include a possible museum. Culture in exchange for crushing Big Box capitalism. It's really appalling how the Mayor and the City council, just ignored all this and went ahead anyway in pure Andrew Jackson style. The good news is that old ethno-centric way of doing things totally failed. In the age of social media activism--they can't get away with colonialism style ignorance. Big Brands like Walmart can't afford to have a media feeding frenzy either.
This is something that all native groups are fighting, two years ago we had a gravel crushing company come onto our reserve...no one even knew about it, the disrupted the trees and people offerings. We took chances and blocked the road, others did the same until they left. These are our sites and we need to protect them. The mainstream media isn't going to pick up on this so make some noise people! Send messages to the city council and mayor, send stuff to the media in the area, take lots of photos and document what you can. If they know that this is a bigger issue it will make them think twice.
Mark Davis (Birmingham, AL) wrote:
I am responsible for the protest in Oxford, Alabama, to save this mound. It took from June 24 to today to get the machines off the mound and stop what they doing. This took a lot out of people and a lot of time, but as of today, the contractor has ordered ALL men and machines off the mound and they cannot remove any more "fill dirt" from it. I myself have gotten 20 hours of sleep since this started. We will be moving our attention on another piece of land, 320 acres that contains a temple Mound, this area also was the largest Indian Town in the southeast.
Alabama American Indian Movement
These days, AIM is doing a lot of work protesting Native stereotypes and preserving Native sites. I wonder what AIM's critics would say about that.
As with the artifact looting in Utah, there's no excuse for this kind of destruction. Preserving our past should have priority over developing and building, especially something as ephemeral as a Sam's Club.
P.S. For those who haven't learned how to spell, punctuate, or capitalize correctly, I made minor changes to the comments.
For more on the subject, see No Time for Indian Monuments and US Ignores Indian Sites at Risk.
"These days, AIM is doing a lot of work protesting Native stereotypes and preserving Native sites."
I think it's good to see them doing something positive for a change.
"I wonder what AIM's critics would say about that."
There's still the matter of the vile bigoted nonsense their leaders spew, ie Russell Means' (the guy's an blatant racist) raving anti-Jew bigotry.
Oh look more AIM anti-semitism!
I'm not in the mood to completely disprove every piece of bulsh*t in that vile rant but here's some rather amusing quotes.
"Hamas, which has promoted itself as a militant alternative to the discredited Fatah government, now has to live up to its own rhetoric of providing an alternative to the long suffering Palestinian people."
So suicide bombing is an 'alternative' to these people?
"The Palestinian people continue to struggle through various groups like Hamas in self defense of their sovereignty and to keep their remaining lands."
This vile sentence tries to make it sound as if murdering Jews is some sort of 'noble struggle'.
"Like the PLO, Hamas and other Palestinian liberation groups, we too were criminalized by the invaders and thieves who attempt to undermine our rights as a liberation group with aggression, violence and name calling."
The nerve those Christ killers to consider people who murder Jews to criminals! *Clicks sarcasm off.*
"As with the Palestinians, we too will not be denied, through threats of violence, our right of self defense."
Hmmm mass murder and lauching rockets at Jews is 'self defense'? That's a new one.
More bigotry from Means and co. who I'm convinced 'learned' about Israel from this:
"Israel’s excuse for its violence is that from time to time the Palestinian resistance organization"
How interesting that they label a terrorist organization dedicated to slaughtering Jews a 'resistance group'.
"Hamas, fires off rockets into Israel to protest the ghetto life that Israel imposes on Gazans."
Translation: "those poor arabs have no choice, it's all the fault of those eviiiil hook noses."
"However, the real purpose for the Israeli attack is to destroy Hamas."
How dare those Jews (who rule the world doncha know) try to kill terrorists!
" After unheeded warnings to the Gazans to rid themselves of Hamas and accept a puppet government, Israel has decided to destroy the freely elected government with violence"
Yup a 'democratically elected' government dedicated to the slaughter of Jews apparently these morons think they should stick around. And that's only one small example of the sheer amount of vile anti-semitism you'll find on that site.
"Moreover, the people Israel claims are legitimate targets are members of Hamas, which Israel says is a terrorist organization."
Wait, they think Hamas isn't a terrorist group? That would be funny if it's wasn't so... not funny.
"Hamas has a military wing."
A bunch of goons who killed people for being Jewish are a 'military wing'? That's new to me.
" However, it is not entirely a military organization, but a political one."
I hate to resort to godwin's law but the same can be said of the nazis, does being a political group' somehow sanction the mass murder of Jews?
"Members of Hamas are the democratically elected representatives of the Palestinian people. "
"Dozens of these elected leaders have been kidnapped and held in Israeli prisons without charge. Others have been targeted for assassination, such as Nizar Rayan, a top Hamas official."
*Gasp.* The nerve of those eviiil hebes to fight back! *Sarcasm off.*
"In essence, Israel gives birth to these Suicide Bombers."
In other words they blame Jews not terrorists. I think the fact that they include a George 'I salute you sir' Galloway link says it all.
We're not debating your prejudice against the Palestinians and for Israel in this thread too. Any more of these comments and I'll start deleting them. Here's why:
I believe the AIM chapters are independent now. Whether they are or not, I think Colorado's chapter is the most radical one. They're the ones getting arrested at the annual Columbus Day parade, for example.
Although Means is associated with AIM, he's resigned from it several times. I'm not sure he's a member now. His Wikipedia entry notes, "As of 2004, Means's website states that he was a board member of the Colorado AIM chapter." So if he's a member, he's a member of the most radical chapter.
In short, you can't impute the views of Colorado's AIM chapter to AIM as a whole. Nor can you impute Means's views to Colorado's AIM or AIM as a whole. It's guilt by association, a logical fallacy and poor debate technique.
If you want to discuss what Alabama's AIM members believe, do your research and list their views. Then we'll consider them. Until then, your comments are irrelevant and inappropriate.
"How interesting that they label a terrorist organization dedicated to slaughtering Jews a 'resistance group'."
Hamas is a resistance group. They resist the notion that Jewish people should be allowed to live.
"We're not debating your prejudice against the Palestinians and for Israel in this thread too."
I'm not prejudiced against palestinians I'd reply to that post you made but that's pointless since you haven't replied to barely of the emails I've sent you. The point is that despite whatever 'good works' AIM has done they are definitely a hate group.
"I believe the AIM chapters are independent now. Whether they are or not, I think Colorado's chapter is the most radical one. They're the ones getting arrested at the annual Columbus Day parade, for example."
That anti-semitic rant came ROBERT ROBIDEAU a man highly respected by AIM chapters in general.
"Although Means is associated with AIM, he's resigned from it several times. I'm not sure he's a member now. His Wikipedia entry notes, "As of 2004, Means's website states that he was a board member of the Colorado AIM chapter." So if he's a member, he's a member of the most radical chapter."
You're correct however Means' bigotry and the bigotry of his followers show that the idealogy AIM spouts is highly anti-semitic.
"In short, you can't impute the views of Colorado's AIM chapter to AIM as a whole. Nor can you impute Means's views to Colorado's AIM or AIM as a whole. It's guilt by association, a logical fallacy and poor debate technique."
I've yet to see an AIM chapter disagree with it or reject it, you might have a point if a chapter came out with a 'unlike means we don't think that Jews rule America and we condemn Hamas' statement you'd have a point.
AIM doing good things every once in a while. I can't help but think of situations where the KKK cleans up highways.
"well, they pick up litter. So they can't be that bad at all!"
AIM doing good things every once in a while. I can't help but think of situations where the KKK cleans up highways.
Wow. I expect this kind of irrational, indefensible, half-witted hatred from Stephen, but I thought DMarks was cut from slightly better cloth. You know that AIM people read this, right?
I serve my community the best that I can. I have made a positive change in the lives of many Indian people as have the people with whom I work in the American Indian Movement. I use my real full name on the internet. I don't hide from what I say or do.
And yet DMarks lumps AIM in with the KKK and thereby I am compared with a Klansman.
DMarks, I have to say that while I have never agreed with most of your expressed opinions, I had a measure of respect for you until today. Your petty insults don't change my community's opinion of me. You only dishonor yourself.
American Indian Movement
"Wow. I expect this kind of irrational, indefensible, half-witted hatred from Stephen, but I thought DMarks was cut from slightly better cloth. You know that AIM people read this, right?"
If you want to whine about hatred start with the raving anti-semitism of your organization which has been linked to the PLO and Provisional IRA. Given the links to terrorists and the Jew hating crap AIM has spewed it's accurate to describe it as a hate group.
"I serve my community the best that I can. I have made a positive change in the lives of many Indian people as have the people with whom I work in the American Indian Movement. I use my real full name on the internet. I don't hide from what I say or do."
No doubt but we're talking about an organization here and the bigotry that organization spews not an individual. Whatever good works you've done do not change the fact that your organization spews anti-semitic garbage. Or perhaps you also think that Jews rule America and that Hamas are bunch of hippy freedom fighters?
More info on the organization you're proud to be a member of:
"3. FOREIGN TIES:
It has many foreign ties, direct and indirect - with Castro Cuba, with China, with the IRA, with the Palestine Liberation Organization, and with support organizations in various European countries."
- REVOLUTIONARY ACTIVITIES WITHIN THE UNITED STATES-THE AMERICAN INDIAN MOVEMENT
HEARING BEFORE THE SUBCOMMITTEE TO INVESTIGATE THE ADMINISTRATION OF THE INTERNAL SECURITY ACT AND OTHER INTERNAL SECURITY LAWS OF THE COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY UNITED STATES SENATE
April 6, 1976
I am sorry, I did not mean to carelessly impugn your work with AIM in my
My "like the KKK reference" was based on
Russell Means being a frontman for the organization (and my ignorance of
how fractured AIM actually is now). Apparently, he is not anymore. So
there is no connection between you and your branch of AIM, and Means.
Oh yeah and gazelbe how do you feel about Floyd Westerman (who's woefully ignorant that the word Gaelic refers to multiples languages and cultures) praising the same scum that committed such atrocities as bloody friday and the kingsmill massacre?
Although he's right about Indian mascots, such things are ignorant and just plain offensive, sort of like someone going over to a country that he knows nothing about and praising 'people' who spent 30+ engaging in mass murder of gangsterism.
Stephen and deMarks, would you two take your irrelevant shootout private and do it by emails, please? It has nothing to do with the core issue here, which is the destruction of a Native American spiritual site just to get dirt to level other land to build a big-box chain store. Your spit-fight is inappropriate to this page.
Please sign the petition to save this Sacred Mound:
Thank you for your support!
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