Leave Indigenous Cemetaries Alone

Leave Indigenous Cemetaries Alone

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John Ahni Schertow
October 7, 2006
 

STOP THE INSANITY, STOP THE DISRESPECT, RESPECT INDIGENOUS PEOPLES, LEAVE INDIGENOUS CEMETERIES ALONE

No other people in America, save the American Indian, have to concern themselves with worry that their grandparents, great grandparents and those who have gone before will have their final resting place desecrated and their ancestor removed in the interest of science, in the interest of development, in the interest of curiosity, in the interest of making a buck by selling them on E-Bay.

No, 514 years after Columbus invaded the lands of the Arawak, Lubicyon, and Taino peoples committing genocide, Native peoples cemeteries are disrespected and desecrated by ghouls with and without degrees, grave robbers for profit, pot hunters for profit, developers on purpose and by accident, the State of Florida, professional and amateur grave robbers a/k/a anthropologists, and virtually anyone with a shovel who feels like it. While both federal and state laws prohibit the desecration of an Indigenous cemetery by those who don’t have a degree in desecrating Indigenous cemeteries, the State of Florida has failed to prosecute anyone for such a crime in the twenty (20) years the Florida Unmarked Human Burial Act has been in force.

In 1998 concerned citizens caught JOHN RAABE removing human remains from the Reedy Indigenous cemetery on videotape and the Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney refused to prosecute claiming the Florida Unmarked Human Burial law violated Mr. Raabe’s constitutional rights. The United States Government prosecuted one man for plundering remains from the Cape Canaveral National Seashore and driving around with two peoples remains in the bed of his truck. The US fined the man $50 for the crime when the penalty by law called for up to a $100,000 fine.

In Saint Augustine, FL a site is being developed on Magnolia Street that contains at least three (3) Indigenous peoples final resting place. After finding the Indigenous cemetery instead of halting work and respecting the site, development plans continue and anthropologists have increased excavation efforts at the site.

The American Indian Movement of Florida (Florida AIM), in consultation with Independent Traditional Seminole Nation spiritual leader Bobby Billie, has called for an immediate halt to the excavation, for any development to occur in a manner that does not disturb or require the excavation of Indigenous peoples remains, and
that any Indigenous peoples remains removed from the site be returned immediately.

Florida AIM is aware of, and supports the efforts of local residents and some municipal officials to seek a preservation program to acquire the lands and to maintain the land as a preserve. However Florida AIM cannot, and will not tolerate further desecration and disrespect to this Indigenous cemetery.

All human beings should be afforded basic respect and common decency. These people did not bury their relatives so that century’s later people, who weren’t even from here, could dig them up as a plaything to satisfy their curiosity, make a buck, or for development.

Florida AIM asks people with a conscience, people who understand respect to call the City of Saint Augustine and call for them to insure the excavations at the site are halted, that the human remains are respected, reburied if they have been unearthed, left alone if they have not; and finally that the burial sites are left alone in any future development plans for the affected parcels of land.

Contact the City Commission
Phone: 825-1005 | Fax: 825-1096
City Manager 904-825-1006
Tourism Department 904-825-5033
Email: cosa@aug.com

American Indian Movement of FL
Two Elk/David Goyette Memorial State Office.
2134 3rd Ave N
Saint Petersburg
727-421-9659
email: aimfl@aol.com
Web site http://www.hometown.aol.com/AIMFL
National www.aimovement.org

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