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
Pricey Homes Built on 4,500-Year-Old 'Treasure Trove'
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)

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 American Indian stories.)

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