Pricey Homes Built on Ancient 'Treasure Trove'
American Indians wouldn't let archaeologists keep find
By Neal Colgrass, Newser Staff
Posted Apr 24, 2014 4:34 PM CDT
In this April 16, 2014 photo, workers continue with the construction of Rose Lane Development in Larkspur, Calif.    (AP Photo/San Francisco Chronicle, Lacy Atkins)

(Newser) – Developers are building multi-million-dollar homes over an American Indian burial ground in California's Marin County—with full consent of native leaders, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. As required by law, developers had archaeologists investigate the 4,500-year-old site, which housed 600 human burials, musical instruments, harpoon tips, black and grizzly bear remains, a California condor burial, and more. "This was a site of considerable archaeological value," said Dwight Simons, an archaeologist who estimated its value at over $1 million. "It was staggering." But American Indian leaders—who have legal control of their artifacts—had them reburied and paved over.

"The damn gall to assume that the American Indian, whether it’s our culture, our beads ... is for others to come in and do what they want—the implicit arrogance to this," one leader told the Press Democrat. "We know our own history." Archaeologists mourned the loss, saying it robbed Americans of a shared history and denied buried Indians a chance to "tell their stories." Critics, meanwhile, said Larkspur city officials didn't protect the site because developers had given them land for a community center. "It's like the fox watching the henhouse," said one analyst. As for developers, they didn't say much: "The developer was reluctant to have any publicity because, well—let's face it—because of Poltergeist," said Simons, referring to the film about a haunted house built on a burial ground.

More From Newser
My Take on This Story
To report an error on this story,
notify our editors.
Pricey Homes Built on 4,500-Year-Old 'Treasure Trove' is...
Show results without voting
You Might Like
Showing 3 of 55 comments
Apr 25, 2014 6:49 AM CDT
Maybe one can argue that it's not for us white folk to dictate to native Americans how they should preserve… or even if they should preserve their heritage, but it can also be argued that the white man has thoroughly corrupted and despoiled the Native American cultures and so there are times when we must step in to prevent further despoliation, as we've caused the callousness of it's leadership. Just follow the money.
Apr 25, 2014 2:18 AM CDT
For crying out loud!!! Has anybody ever seen the movie "Poltergeist"??? No way I would live there. Wake up and find dead Indians walking around the house. NO WAY! For God sake some respect!
Apr 24, 2014 11:40 PM CDT
i guess in history... money talks, B.S. walks: The 1868 Treaty of Fort Laramie set aside land for the exclusive use by the Sioux and by the many other tribes in the region. It stated that the only whites allowed into that land were certain government agents. The Indian reservation delineated in the treaty included parts of Wyoming, Nebraska, Montana, and the Dakota Territory. The land set aside for exclusive use by Indians included all of the Black Hills. By 1873, the Indians in the town of Stonewall, located well within the Black Hills, saw that it was obvious the Treaty of Fort Laramie no longer meant anything to the white man. In 1874, Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer had led the first white expedition into the Black Hills in open defiance of the treaty. With a thousand soldiers, he protected those whites who wanted to search for gold or to otherwise make a living in a land previously denied them. Many Indians had been killed, and the U.S. Government then kept redefining the size and number of reservations allocated to the Indians.