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native american site preservation

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  • Vincent Barrows
    Below is some recent correspondence from expert archaeologist Liz Kassly (finder of the Kassly-Schaefer Tablet and the John Kelly Tablet) and her effort to
    Message 1 of 3 , May 8, 2008
      Below is some recent correspondence from expert archaeologist Liz Kassly (finder of the Kassly-Schaefer Tablet and the John Kelly Tablet) and her effort to preserve mounds and archaeological sites in Fairview Heights . Below Liz Kassly’s excellent article about the importance of preservation is a response from the Fairview Heights City Hall .
        The Kassly-Schaefer Tablet can be seen here:
      The John Kelly Tablet can be seen here:
       An old friend of mine and I recently had a discussion on the
       preservation of Archaeological sites in the Illinois area - O’Fallon is
       where they built her new church. She said she prayed and prayed that
       they would not find any archaeological remains…so they would not have
       the added cost of having an Indian site excavated. She said that having
       a church was more important than finding an old village site. Yes,
       churches are important as well as houses being built everywhere with the
       influx of people in the area…but prehistory is important also. Once you
       destroy it, it is gone forever and no information can be gleaned from
       it. What if they had destroyed the Dead Sea Scrolls? Those kids that
       found the Scrolls (that were hidden high up the hills in old caves) they
       could have trashed them not even caring what they were. But they knew
       that they were very important and maybe worth a lot of money. They were
       Our Illinois prehistoric sites are also priceless…yet many are destroyed
       everyday by construction companies that know how to get around the laws
       set forth by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency (IHPA). Someone
       has been telling construction companies in O’Fallon how to do just
       that…get around the preservation laws. They first strip down the soils
       with their tractors and build the houses and then apply for water and
       sewer permits for their plat maps. That is so wrong and so illegal. Why
       does the IEPA (Illinois Environmental Protection Agency) allow this to
       happen? In essence what they are doing is destroying important
       information about the past. They are ‘robbing’ citizens like you and I,
       from learning about the Indians of pre-history. There are a few private
       archaeological firms in the area and it has long been suspected that one
       of them has a secret agreement or cooperation with developer’s for the
       illegal and deceitful purpose of writing off these important sites…for a
       payoff. In other words - they don’t give a damn!! My friend who is a
       politician says the city of O’Fallon has it’s own agenda and they don’t
       really care. It’s all about making money!
       The O’Fallon Illinois uplands have numerous old village sites that are
       scattered throughout the area. Many of these sites are ‘satellite’
       communities of the Cahokia Mounds Indians. They moved into the hills to
       escape their flooded bottomlands and overpopulation. The rich upland
       soils (of that ancient time) afforded them plentiful harvests of
       vegetables like corn, beans and squash and much more. Deer, bison and
       other small game animals were also plentiful.
       As you look out over the fields and rolling hills…remember that others
       were here before us. And when you look out your window and watch the
       quickly disappearing farmlands…I hope you wonder about the history, that
       was below your feet. Was it saved or is it gone forever? Site
       destruction happens everywhere. History always seems to repeat itself.
       The white man was instrumental in destroying the Indians when they were
       alive…and now because of that same greed, some really don’t care and
       destroy what is left of them. It is called ’ignorance’.
       A small site in a housing development area is slated for destruction,
       along with eight others (seven sites have already been destroyed in the
       same development). I would like to see them saved, so honest
       archaeologist’s can garnish what little information is left in the soil,
       after the plow and beneath our feet. So much can be learned of the
       ‘people of the past’. Why won’t the developer’s and politician’s let us
       save these sites? What is the cost you ask? Not much compared to the
       price of a little plot of land that is sold to one homeowner. On this
       small site from 1988-1999 I have found thousands of broken shards of
       pottery, small flint tools and flakes of all different shapes and sizes,
       as well as bones, shells and stones. Even more important, I found a
       small fired clay human head about the size of a large marble. Possibly a
       doll’s head made for a small child, it depicts a simple image of a
       prehistoric face from over a 1000 years ago and it provides us a glimpse
       of their past through their art. It’s almost like finding a lost Picasso!
       Let the politician’s of the city of O’Fallon know how you feel about how
       little they care about our important prehistory being destroyed. Please
       call O’Fallon City Hall and let the Mayor (Gary Graham) know how
       outraged you are about the destruction of Archaeological sites in the
       city of O’Fallon . 618 622 9554. We must all use our voices to help save
       these remnants of the past ~ Thankyou Sincerely
       Elizabeth A Kassly of Swansea, Illinois
       From: "Brian Keller" <bkeller3@...
       To: Elizabeth Kassly
       Subject: historic preservation mtg
       Date: Tue, 6 May 2008 21:35:55 -0500
       Elizabeth ,
       Thank you very much for coming to the Historic Preservation
       meeting tonight at the Historical Society museum.  Your presentation
       certainly informative and eye-opening.  What you said will most
       certainly be
       a topic of conversation at future meetings.  Since the commission is
       body that recommends sites for protected landmark status, it's
       within their charter to discuss.  Archaeological site preservation is
       not a
       direction the commission has gone in the past, but after your talk
       seems to be
       interest in doing so and finding out what our options
       are.  You
       had a receptive audience.  
       Historical preservation in O'Fallon, on the local organizational
       level, is
       primarily the work of two groups -- the Historical Society and the
       Preservation Commission.  The latter focuses on site and property
       preservation and makes recommendations to the City Council for
       landmarks.  Steve Brown is chairman.  The Historical Society of which
       president runs the museum and archives -- a focus on artifact and
       preservation in addition to education.  Would you be interested in
       at one of our Historical Society meetings sometime?  The Society
       meets in
       the same room you were tonight except
       on the third Tuesday of each
       month at
       7pm.  People can't get concerned about what they don't know about.
        If you'd
       be interested, let me know and I'll check with our program chairman
       available months.  We'd also be happy to display or make available
       information you'd like share at our museum -- we periodically get
       who ask about Native American settlement in the O'Fallon area.  
       Thanks again!
       Brian Keller

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