Two Florida–based Native American activists are asking the city of Miami to stop an ongoing archaeological dig in the Brickell neighborhood. The site is being developed for residential housing.
The artifacts found at the site include pottery sherds, stone tools, and humans remains likely dating back to the Tequesta people who lived along the Miami river.
Will Pestle, a bioarchaeologist and University of Miami professor, told Local 10 News that the site dates back as far as 7,000 years: “[It’s] older than the pyramids. It is older than the colosseum in Rome.”
Meanwhile Robert Rosa of the American Indian Movement of Florida and Betty Osceola of the Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of Florida are requesting that the city stop the excavation.
“I was a little bit angered and felt like our ancestors were being disrespected,” Osceola told Local 10 News. She also suggested the area be preserved like the nearby Miami Circle.
Referring to it as a “big desecration,” Rosa said to Local 10 News, “Leave it alone, [these are] our ancestors we wouldn’t go and take your grandmother out of the grave to see what [she was] buried with and why.” Adding, “If you can’t respect us, expect us.”
The Related Group, which is developing the site, said in a statement that it “has worked in close collaboration with archaeologists, the City of Miami, and the State of Florida’s official tribal representatives to meticulously excavate the site and document any findings” and is fully complying with requirements.
“The Related Group and the project archaeologists have met with the Director of the Tribal Historic Preservation Office for the Seminole Tribe of Florida and their staff to assure the respectful recovery, preservation, and eventual reburial of the remains,” it continued.
Phase III of the excavation is currently underway. A presentation of the findings will be presented at the upcoming Historic and Environmental Preservation Board on April 4th.