It's the secrecy.
The discovery of human remains at the Davis Farm site strengthens the concerns of those who have long felt the city's Native American sites could be burial grounds. Today, that's no longer supposition.
Where there's one grave, there may be others.
But it's impossible to defend the secrecy (by some) and the convenient indifference (by others) that has kept the public in the dark about the activities and findings at the Oxford sites.
It's appropriate that University of Alabama archeologists monitored the construction of Oxford's sports park at the Davis Farm location. It's also comforting to know that city officials are expecting soon a "full report" from the archeologists, The Star reported last week.
But it's incomprehensible that the UA team told the Alabama Historical Commission that human remains were found and reburied — and Oxford officials weren't told beforehand.
That secrecy — or, at least, that lack of communication — is a highly regrettable, unforgiveable reality.
Several Oxford council members, the mayor and the city project manager told The Star they were unaware that remains had been found at this valuable and controversial site. That's unacceptable. They have to know what's going on in their city. They must demand it.
What's more, the quick reburial of the remains removed any chance for archeologists to examine and document them, and robbed the state's Native American representatives the opportunity to be involved in the reburial. They deserved that right.
If that was the agreement between Oxford, UA archeologists and the state historical commission, it's an agreement not worth its weight in dirt.
This escapade is yet another deplorable chapter in the sad tale of the destruction, ignorance and decay of Native American sites in Oxford.
It was pleasing last week to hear City Project Manager Fred Denney say that the city would "not be a part of altering a burial site," though that rings hollow considering the city's attitude toward the stone mound last summer. Oxford must be held to that promise.
Still, given Mayor Leon Smith's continued obstructionist stance on preservation, it's likely impossible to expect Oxford City Hall to follow the proper course.
Now would be the perfect time to crack this seal of secrecy and lack of communication. Archeologists must immediately tell city officials what's found at the Davis Farm site. City officials must stay informed and help protect what's of value.
It's clear that Oxford isn't going to slow its construction train. But there's now proof reburied in city soil that moving too fast, and with lackadaisical, shoddy communication, is the absolute wrong thing to do.