Indian burial site
without more study
report near Austin is inconclusive
AUSTIN, Ind. (April 2007) A Louisville-based
archaeologist last October conducted a preliminary investigation into
allegations of an Indian burial site located just east of Austin, Ind.,
but her findings did not entirely support the existence of a Native
American burial grounds.
Anne Bader of Corn Island Archaeology conducted a Phase
I evaluation at the request of then-owners Jerry and Melissa Seaver.
But in a February telephone interview, Bader said her visit involved
only a subsurface examination that included a few shovel probes.
She did find some sparse evidence of prehistoric Native American tool
making. Our preliminary impression was that this site was a light
lithic scatter. She found some waste flakes from someone making
She said she found no features of house patterns, fire pits, burials
or any fire-cracked rock, which would indicate people were living there
for long periods of time. The existence of these things would
suggest a substantial occupation, but we didnt see any of this.
Because her preliminary research was not extensive, she said another
more extensive Phase I investigation or a phase II evaluation needed
to be conducted to determine the significance of the site. However,
she added, After 30 years of viewing such sites, I would suggest
this particular site has limited potential for historical significance.
Bader said an Indiana Department of Natural Resource number for the
site because additional research is needed to determine the significance
of the preliminary findings. The number is part of a screening
process to determine any significance of the site.
The site has been given the number 12S74. Twelve is the state identification
number; S is the county designation; and 74 is the number of sites that
have been identified in Scott County. Bader said there are thousands
of known prehistoric Indian sites throughout southern Indiana.
The site number does give it some protection under Indiana law; technically,
a developer has to consider what he is doing to this land and is required
to do prior work before developing it.
She said a Phase II evaluation, which is costly and lengthy to complete,
has to be conducted.
DNR officials, meanwhile, would not confirm that a registration number
had been assigned to the site because of the controversy surrounding
the ownership of the land.
Native Americans from a variety of tribes around the country gathered
on Jan. 27 on the 145-acre farm near Austin to hold a sacred pipe ceremony
to honor ancestors that may be buried on the grounds. The ceremony was
part of a press conference called by the Seavers to discuss the effort
to get at least four acres of the farm classified as an official archaeological
site until more research can be done to determine if it is an Indian
In May 2006, the farm was sold at a federal marshals foreclosure
sale to Houser Lucas Development. The land has since been involved in
a legal battle that has ended up in the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals
in Chicago as part of the foreclosure.
On Feb. 15, the Seavers were escorted off the property by federal marshals
and told not to return. Melissa Seaver said she plans to continue her
efforts to save the potential burial mounds.
John Houser of Houser Lucas Development said his company bought the
land free and clear with no liens and no restrictions. We bought
the property in good faith without any knowledge of a possible Indian
Houser said the company was given the legal deed to the land in December,
but the developers are not sure what they will do with the land. They
had initially hoped to develop it into a residential community.
Houser said his company will do whatever is required of
it in the event it is established that the possible burial site indeed
has historical and cultural significance. We do not want to offend
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