Charles Kader: Tribal burial grounds in Florida are being desecrated

The Little Salt Spring is an ancestral tribal site in Florida. Photo from Wikimedia Commons

Charles Kader, a member of the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe, looks at the threats facing burial grounds at places like the Warm Mineral Springs and the Little Salt Spring in Florida:
The remains of Paleo Indians have been removed from both underwater archaeological areas, which are on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. This includes what has been described as the oldest existing brain matter found in North America, from Warm Mineral Springs. Deprived of oxygen, the water at the lower part of the springs acted as a natural preservative to the still-white brain that was brought to the surface. Shortly after the modern air was exposed to it however, decomposition quickly began. Enough evidence was retained to make the determination that the brain was at least 6,000 years old, and a charred piece of wood also taken from a lower level was dated to 10,000 years ago.

Bobbie C. Billie, a lifelong resident of south Florida and a member of the Council of the Original Miccosukee Simanolee Nation Aboriginal Peoples, has tracked these and other burial sites for his entire life. He has participated in demonstrations throughout Turtle Island in order to raise awareness to the issues related to these lost peoples.

In 1995, he appeared before the North Port city commissioners in traditional regalia, as an effort to annex the Warm Mineral Springs “resort” came up for vote prior to a commercial development project. Along with other members of the Florida Native American community in attendance, Billie spoke in front of the elected body in honor of the voices that could no longer speak for themselves. The cultural display may have had a lasting effect since that annexation was voted down, remaining so until 2000 when a second vote then passed, although not without controversy.

The current status of the legendary site is that it has been completely acquired from any private ownership and is now wholly owned / operated by the City of North Port. It remains open as a public attraction and is home to a growing expatriate Eastern European population enamored by claims of health brought on by the ancient mineral waters naturally pumped into the spring each day.

Get the Story:
Charles Kader: To Know Where You're Going, Learn Where You Came From (Indian Country Today 2/4)

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