Can someone enlighten me as to the mentality that would lead a city such as Oxford to dig up a Native American burial mound and sacred site to use as fill dirt for a big-box Sam's Club development?
I cannot imagine that any government — or business, for that matter — would intentionally destroy a sacred and archaeologically significant site as Oxford is doing. It is unethical, insensitive, insulting to a whole people and in violation of Alabama law to disturb graves.
An archeological study of the area for the city two years ago specified the religious and historical significance not only of this mound but also of marvelous archaeological and historical sites over many acres that sit just across the creek. A more recent study for the same firm by an inexperienced archaeologist who, I understand, has not yet finished full graduate education, said the mound had significance but uncertain sign of burial reportedly was overruled by the Alabama historical office, which said it most certainly was a burial structure.
Despite all this, Oxford Mayor Leon Smith is quoted as ridiculously saying it was built as a place from which to send smoke signals. Is no one embarrassed by this? Does no one challenge him as only blowing smoke himself?
Scholars learning of the mound destruction are appalled. And I am afraid it only reinforces the worst stereotypes of Alabama intelligence. Is there no one with the good sense and character to put a stop to this sacrilege and destruction of your heritage?
Charlotte, N.C. Decimating history
It is a sad day in Oxford. It is a sad day in Alabama. It is a sad day in the United States. As a history major and anthropology minor in college, what is happening in Oxford makes me sick.
A piece of history is being deleted in the name of capitalism, in the name of profit, in the name of money. How far can our interests go? As an Italian citizen from Rome, I wonder what my country would have looked like if our leaders had behaved like the mayor of Oxford. We would probably have more malls and less statues, more McDonald's and less mosaics. Italy would look like a shopping center instead of the beautiful country that it is, filled with history and art.
Except for natural wonders, this country does not have many significant artifacts that can be dated to the pre-Columbian era.
If this stone mound is truly almost 3,000 years old, as Jacksonville State professor Harry Holstein said, then we are in front of one of the greatest achievements of the indigenous people who built it.
The United States is a new country; it doesn't have as much history as others, and from what I have seen, modern-day Americans do not particularly care about their history. When something is old, it is torn down, without waiting for it to become "ancient." But this time is different.
That mound is not old, it is ancient, and it does not belong to you; it belongs to an ancient civilization who lived here thousands of years before any of us. Destroying that mound would mean destroying a piece of history — your history, Native Americans' history and my history as a resident of this planet.