Oxford, Alabama Destroying A 1500-Year-Old Indian Mound To Build A Sam’s Club

After writing the post yesterday about how the city of Oxford is destroying a 1500-year-old Indian mound to use it as fill for the building of a Sam’s Club, I just had to go see it for myself.

It towers over the shopping center “Oxford Exchange”:

You can see how the hill has just been scraped clean – there are roads around the mound all the way to the top. This hill used to be wooded and now there is just a sad clump of a few trees at the very top where the stone mound is (just to be crystal-clear here – the stone mound is at the top of this hill. It’s the stone mound at the top that is man-made. The hill itself is not man-made):

We watched truck after truck come down the hill fully loaded with earth.

From the back of the hill, you can see this backhoe (bottom right of this pic below) scraping the hill clean:

When we were there, we met three other people who were watching what was going on with disgust. One young woman was there taking pictures and had been approached by the construction people to stop taking pictures and to get off ‘private property’. They said they were going to take the phone she was using to take pictures and she refused.

Bullies! You know, if you are doing something you’re ashamed of doing, you shouldn’t be doing it, right? Why under any other circumstances would a construction crew object to anyone taking pictures of their progress? These people know what they are doing is wrong.

I’m sure some of these people are workers who don’t want to get mixed up in the moral or ethical conflict and are just trying to make a living; who is really to blame is the mayor, Leon Smith, and those in the city’s Commercial Development Authority, which owns the mound.

What’s really rich is that the street that runs in front of the mound is ‘Leon Smith Parkway’.

The AP article titled ‘Oxford Pays for Demolition of Indian Mound’ details the incestuous relationship between the city’s no-bid contract and political contributions from the construction company directly to the mayor’s campaign. Ugly!!

It’s just so unbelievable that the city of Oxford and its leaders are destroying a 1500-year-old Indian mound containing no-telling-what (burials? ceremonial items/artifacts?) to use as *fill dirt* for a Sam’s Club! I mean really, I went there, saw the giant trucks deliver the earth straight from the mound to the construction site, and I still can’t believe what they are doing.
Next are four pics of the mound that were taken by Thunderhawk on April 4, 2006. He is one of the protestors I met today.


The following is his assessment of what would happen on the mound (this can also be found in the comments section on this Anniston Star page):


OK, I’ll try to fill in the blanks here. On April 4th, 2006, I went to the top of this mound with my children. Once there, you could feel what was there, and it was good. While there, I went through a roll of film of what the top contained. There were seven oblong areas marked off with stones, approx. 7 feet long and 4-1/2 wide in the center, on the outside of these oblong circles, approx. 5 feet away from the outer most stone was a half circle of stones approx 5 feet wide and 6 feet deep. The body was rested inside the oblong circles and the outer stone 1/2 circle is where the family and the holy man sat and prayed for 2 to 3 days.

On the east side of the mound, approx. 50 feet down the side was a cave entrance and after the time of prayer and mourning was over, the remains were placed inside of the cave chamber.

…The center of the mound had a larger stone circle excatly 30 feet from side to side, and my guess is that was where the 3 prayer fire was kept by the fire keeper of these people.

Sadly to say, the has collapsed from the weight of the equipment.

One more thing, when we were up there, I had the opportunity to take the site manager who was in charge of building the Oxford Exchange, to the top. I showed him what was there and what it was, he gave his word that the mound would not be touched by him or his crew and he the man kept his word, that’s why he’s not there any more.

Would Sam Walton have wanted the destruction of such a cultural/historic site as part of his corporate legacy? (Wal-Mart Corporate, 702 SW 8th St, Bentonville AR 72716)
The City of Oxford, Alabama and its mayor Leon Smith, who was quoted in an Anniston Star article as, “I said, ‘First of all it’s not a burial ground,'” Smith said. “‘It ain’t never been a burial ground. It was for (smoke) signals'” can be contacted by mail (145 Hamric Drive East, PO Box 3383, Oxford AL 36203)
From the Anniston Star article: According to Tracy Roberts, assistant general counsel with the Alabama League of Municipalities, the law on excavation is clear. Cities must get permission from the state before they can remove a stone mound like the one in Oxford.

Bob Riley, the Governor of the State of Alabama, can be reached here.
A directory of people that can be contacted at the Alabama Historical Commission is here.

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