Saturday, September 19, 2020

Excavation on Chokoloskee – Now what’s next?

Former intact Indian mound, now bulldozed. Submitted photos

Former intact Indian mound, now bulldozed. Submitted photos

By Patricia Huff

The “buzz” around the Everglades area is the disturbance of the once “intact” Indian mound at the Mamie Street site that developer Florida-Georgia Grove LLP bulldozed while working on the boat basin. This senseless action of destruction has attracted attention from around the state. Bob Carr, Executive Director of the Archaeological and Historical Conservancy in a letter to the Collier County Attorney’s office, stated that “Chokoloskee Island is designated by the state as 8CR1, one of Florida’s most significant sites, and is recorded as having documented human burials. Any disturbance of human remains is subject to Florida Statute 872.05, the Unmarked Human Burials Act…. In my thirty years of experience documenting archaeological sites in south Florida this is the first major destruction of a site that I have witnessed taking place without proper documentation by professional archaeologists.” The State’s Division of Historical Resources requested Collier County to
Disturbing shell mound with fence posts.

Disturbing shell mound with fence posts.

investigate.  Lee County’s Historic Preservation Board has written a letter to the Collier County Commissioners, as well as Dr. William H. Marquardt, Curator in Archaeology at the Florida Museum of Natural History and Director of the University of Florida Institute of Archaeology, in addition to many other interested parties.

According to Collier County Code Enforcement, work has stopped on the site and the developer has hired an archaeologist (of his choice) who will submit his report to the Collier County Historic and Archeological Preservation Board. Many people, including our commissioners and county staff, have visited the site and looked through the fence to see the destruction of this historic shell mound. It’s disgraceful and appalling that the developers chose to act first, then talk. There are ways that development can go hand in hand with preservation. Readers may be interested in an interview posted on the Historical Museum of Southern

Diamondback terrapin. Photo by Carole Starr

Diamondback terrapin. Photo by Carole Starr

Florida’s website with Bob Carr regarding the “Miami Circle” in downtown Miami (www.hmsf.org/collections-miami-circle.htm) on how developers and archaeologists can work together. You may also be interested in seeing the Mamie Street site for yourself and let our commissioners know your opinion.

Another incident that happened over the past few weeks was the rescue of an adult female diamondback terrapin by residents of Chokoloskee. This terrapin was stranded on the wrong side of the newly installed fence surrounding Mamie Street. She was searching for a way back to the water after being covered in mud as the bulldozers were working on the new marina. Nesting season began in late April and many species are threatened due to loss of habitat.

Thanks to Carole Starr for this photo. For more information, visit website: www.evergladesmulletrapper.com

Patricia Huff has lived in Everglades City for the past 16 years and is the Publisher of the local newspaper The Mullet Rapper.

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *