Indian Mound Destroyed

Indian Mound Destroyed

By Patty Huff

Indian Mound bulldozed. SUBMITTED PHOTO

Indian Mound bulldozed. SUBMITTED PHOTO

On April 1, Florida Georgia Grove LLP (FGG) applied for a vegetation removal permit for its property along Mamie Street on Chokoloskee Island; this was issued on April 2. The company requested removal of exotics and other non-native species. FGG was to initiate the work on April 28 but started four days earlier on April 24. Within a week, the vegetation removal and work on the seawall permit were finished. FGG also has an outstanding permit to renovate the duplex on the property.

Now, the question is: With all the safeguards supposedly in place, how did FGG get the approval to “grade” this historic and archaeological site? There is a process by which a developer obtains a permit — an application that Collier County requires and must be reviewed by the Planning and Zoning Department. In the case of the FGG property on Chokoloskee Island, there were two “vegetation removal” permits that were reviewed and approved by environmental staff. The Collier County Historic and Archeological Preservation Board (part of the Planning and Zoning Department) also approved of a “vegetation removal” permit with the stipulation that a certified archaeologist monitor the vegetation removal.

When bulldozers arrived on the property and trees were removed, residents of Chokoloskee became concerned about the amount of work being done. An email request was made on April 25 to Code Enforcement concerning the need to have an archaeologist on site to monitor any excavation activities associated with the building permits for the property in Chokoloskee since it was a requirement of the permit.

FGG property April 28 2014.

FGG property April 28 2014.

As seen from the photos, more than “vegetation removal” was done between April 24 and May 2. Within one week, the property was completely graded and material from the historic shell mound was moved by the bulldozer for fill across Mamie Street to FGG’s marina site.

The destruction to this historic Indian mound is now regrettably complete.

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  1. Often, to secure the foundation of a mound that is unstable, for archaeological research, or other reasons, mounds are often completely removed, sorted through, and then replaced. I can think of at least a half a dozen mounds that this was done to in Georgia. Sometimes, the end result is a more stable mound, with better public access and visibility, and a better understanding of the people who lived there from the artifacts that are collected, cataloged, and studied. Why not require the guilty party to restore the mound, with an archaeological team to oversee the restoration, and to look through the shell debre for artifacts as it is restored? This would restore the mound to possibly better condition than it was in before, and have, as part of the punishment, public access and educational plaques set around the mound. Forfeit the mound land to the state archaeology dept., and the problem is solved. They will have paid more for the restoration, development of public access, and loss of the land, than they would have made from the development of the property. It both restores and protects the mound, and it punishes the guilty party in an appropriate way.

  2. Awesome. In the mean time… lets lump people who simply surface collect artifacts and display for all to see in with crack heads and grave robbers while we bulldoze site in the name of progress.

  3. Anyone file a complaint with the Collier County State Attorney’s Office.

  4. The only way these crooked bastards will get theirs is one night when they are sleeping in their new place Skink will slip in and just cut their ——- throats and leave em’ for some buzzards!

  5. randall mumper

    Instead of leaving angry remarks, do as I and several other people on my FB Group, and write the State Attorney For Collier County an email and ask what the State of Florida is going to do about this obvious criminal action. His email address is:

  6. Jennifer Kelley

    @Steve, do you honestly think our governor would care in the least about these mounds being destroyed? He only cares about anything if there is a way for him to personally profit from it.

  7. Lets see, Mr. Sea.. How about the way they did it??? Do you think it would have been done that way if it wasn’t???? And they still think they did our state a favor… HAHA

  8. This information came up in a Post in Bradenton, I hope as a FL native you folks who were effected by this contact the FL EPA, On its face this seems to be a criminal act.

  9. As is common practice these days, “it is easier to ask forgiveness than for permission.” As someone already posted, paying the fines is all a part of doing business, and likely written into the contract in some discreet manner. The developer could care less about the historical significance all they want is a sellable end result and how the get there isn’t a concern.

  10. There is a huge mound on Disney’s property on Big Island in the Reedy Creek area. (South of Celebration south of Reedy Creek) Guaranteed!!!! it will be leveled when Disney decides to develop this property. They have already started clearing.

  11. There is a huge mound on Disney’s property. Guaranteed(!!) it will be leveled when they decide to develop the Reedy Creek area known as Big Island

  12. This destruction could not have happened if there had been local interest to preserve it as an educational site.
    I visited shell mounds on Pine Island that had been made into a park with educational signage.

  13. oh, I see. if you have money and conections you can do anything you want . why am I not surprised? and then youall turn around and arrest some poor guy
    for digging for fossils in the wrong place. some things will never change.

  14. Who will follow up to see what if any legal actions will be taken to prevent things like this from happening again? If the right people’s feet are held to the fire it may have some consequences. This is disturbing on so many levels. Does the Governor know about this?

  15. ….somebody needs to go to Jail for this…..(I lived on Chokoloskee Island in ’78 when I worked at the Carnestown Solid Waste Transfer Station off SR 41)

  16. ….somebody needs to go to Jail for this…..(I lived on Chokoloskee Island in ’78 when I worked at the Carnestown Solid Waste Transfer Station off SR 41)….Dan in WV

  17. Valerie C. Wisecracker

    This is “WHOLESALE” slaughter of our fragile Florida environment.

  18. Valerie C. Wisecracker

    This is “WHOLESALE” slaughter of our fragile Florida environment.

  19. It’s all part of doing business. remove the obstacle to building, pay the fine, add the cost to the finished development, move on to the nest project. They did this in Cal. until they forfeited the property, or the fine was so high they had to walk away…easy….it won’t happen. Too much easy money being made.

  20. Problem is, we have too many on boards that are not Florida Crackers and could care less about our state. They are in it for the money, and most developers are rapist of the land. You need people out there protesting this kind of activity or it will continue until there is nothing left for our children to enjoy. SAD,

  21. Geoffrey Sea , Did you read the articles ? The real question is , why wasn’t this checked out in the usual manner, why was it hurried and why was much more work done than allowed, but then no action taken by the State of Florida ? Sad….

  22. Business as usual in Florida….wonder how small a payment was effective in getting a permit to raze this valuable historic site?? Probably not much, Florida does not value it’s history any longer, only it’s developers and politicos… This is an unforgivable rape of the land.

  23. Geoff,
    The evidence is the giant mounds of shells. Shell mounds are scattered throughout the area, some on developed islands like Marco Island and Chocoloskee, others on remote wild island that see few visitors.

    The area is low lying and the mounds seem dramatically higher than the surrounding area. The shells themselves show signs of human manipulation, having been opened. Whelk shells are sometimes place in away that helps support the mounds, pottery shards and other artifacts are mixed in with the shells.

    Most sites, especially on the developed islands, are well documented. If the property owner, contractor and bulldozer operator were unaware ( not likely) they have no business working in Chockoloskee.

  24. Gary Brown’s comment is on point, I think. It is so much easier, and less risky, to beat up on collectors than to take on the major commercial and political forces of destruction.

  25. Re: proof of Indian Mound

    Anyone that is familiar with south Florida history would be aware of the Calusa Indians as well as the Seminoles living among the Ten Thousand Islands, in particular Chokoloskee which means “old home” or “big house” in Seminole.
    Wikipedia has this to say:
    “The land around Chokoloskee Bay, both on the mainland and the islands, is very low-lying. Chokoloskee Island is an exception, as it reaches a high-point of 20 feet (6 m) above sea level. This height is due to the shell mounds built on the island during more than 2,000 years of occupation by Native Americans of the Ten Thousand Islands district of the Glades culture.”

    Of course, there are many more sources which can be found on any google search.

    Also the State of Florida Division of Historical Resources has Chokoloskee listed on the Historical and Archaeological Probability Map, and a recent email about Chokoloskee stated:
    “Previous monitoring of water utility installation resulted in the discovery of shell tools, wood artifacts, lithics, bone, and a good deal of pottery. The report described the documentation of “significant midden deposits across the island.”

    If you need more information about the Indian mounds, please review pages 35 and 36 from “The Anthropology of Florida” written in 1922 by Alex Hrdliska of the Smithsonian Institute.

  26. How much money was passed under the table and how much of the artifacts were stolen and at workers homes? BASTARDS!

  27. Unfortunately the destruction of historical and archaeological sites continues in Florida without ceasing.

  28. they are too concerned with busting /slandering/investigating a few honest LEGAL artifact and fossil collectors , rather than to help us fight the real destruction of these non renewable resources.

  29. What is the evidence that this was an Indian mound?

  30. The perpetrators should be heavily fined and forfeit the property. I won’t say what else I believe should be done with them…

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