Native American activists in Nashville are urging Oracle to delay construction so archaeologists can dig.
They believe the tech company’s future River North campus will sit on what could be the site of Native American burials and artifacts.
Going back almost 12,000 years, American Indians lived, hunted and settled around downtown Nashville near the Cumberland River.
Tennessee’s archaeologist Phil Hodge says we don’t know much about the prehistoric tribe names or language.”We only know them through their material culture, through the artifacts that they discarded, and that we found a thousand years later,” he tells WPLN News.
This opportunity to learn about the past could be cut short if Oracle doesn’t dig and presses forward with building their large office campus.
Cherokee Indian activist Albert Bender says pausing to find Native artifacts could be a chance to display the findings for the public. “It will bring to the non-native population knowing the genius and advancement that these large Native American settlements,” he says. “How culturally advanced Native American people were a thousand years ago.”
It’s unclear if government regulations will force Oracle to do the thorough digging Bender wants.
Hodge says in general private developments don’t require archaeological studies in Tennessee unless it uses federal funding, permits or licenses. In that case they have to follow the National Historic Preservation Act.
Tennessee requires all work to stop if burials are found.
The state says they’re planning to meet with Oracle to provide them more detailed information about potential archaeology at River North, the river and about a mile and a half in each direction. They also confirmed that the tech company has several environmental and cultural resource consultants who are studying the property at different degrees.
The company tells WPLN News they’ll work with the state archeologist to make sure there are no human remains on the property.
Several recent development projects have paused to allow time for digging. That helped us find Native pottery pieces while the Sounds Ballpark was being built.