Sam's Club: No artifacts will go into site
by Megan Nichols
Staff Writer
Jul 17, 2009 | 6207 views |  21 comments | 93 93 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Sam's Club investigated Oxford's American Indian mound controversy and concluded that historical artifacts aren't located on its site, a letter from a company spokeswoman says. [read letter]

That information comes as no surprise, as the historical site in question isn't on the proposed Sam's Club location — it's on a hill behind it.

Company spokeswoman Susan Koehler wrote the letter in response to an e-mail from Charlotte, N.C., resident Beth Walters.

Koehler sent the letter to Walters, along with several news outlets and other people.

Attempts to reach Sam's for comment were unsuccessful.

Walters said Thursday she doesn't remember how she found out about the Oxford debate, but that it concerned her.

"I was flabbergasted that anybody would just be going in and taking down a mound of historical value," she said.

Oxford, through its Commercial Development Authority, hired a company to take down the hill behind the proposed Sam's Club location and use it for fill dirt.

But experts say American Indians built a mound on top of the hill at least 1,000 years ago.

Harry Holstein, Jacksonville State University professor of anthropology and archaeology, says it could contain human remains.

A University of Alabama report on the site found no evidence of burials. It found pottery shards and chert, a hard rock used to make tools.

Local American Indians have protested destroying the site. City officials say the site is being left alone, for now.

While Oxford officials have said the Sam's Club is a done deal, the letter from Koehler says the company is "currently reviewing the site to determine whether it is feasible for proposed development of a new location."

Throughout the letter, Koehler refers to the "proposed Sam's Club site."

She writes that Sam's Club hired a geotechnical engineer to test the materials on the site and adjacent to it. The engineer found no materials from the archaeological site on the property.

Koehler also points out that Sam's Club does not own any of the property in question.

She writes that the company has the "highest degree of respect for all cultural and historical monuments."

Walters, who is a former journalist and has worked in public relations, said Sam's Club's response disappointed her.

"It's self-protective, boilerplate," she said. "It does express concern, but makes sure to say they aren't the owner."

Efforts to reach Oxford officials Thursday failed.
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Sam's Club: No artifacts will go into site by Megan Nichols
Staff Writer

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