Native American Group Asks Metro To Dig Deeper At Stadium Site

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Native American Group Asks Metro To Dig Deeper At Stadium Site

CREATED Apr 19, 2014
by Adam Ghassemi

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – This time next year the Nashville Sounds should be playing in their new home near Bicentennial Mall, but some people are  worried about what will be happening beneath the new field instead of on it.

By next spring, the massive hole just north of downtown will become the long awaited new home of the Nashville Sounds, but the new stadium will sit on top of an area dating back centuries.

"I had in no way envisioned the extent of what was there," said Albert Bender with the American Indian Coalition.

Archeologists said the recent discovery of fire pits and pottery believed to be used to boil water from the Sulphur Spring to extract salt highlights the existence of a Native American metropolis that likely covered most of downtown.

Bender said the group has nicknamed the site "Salt Town."

"This is the most important archeological discovery in the history of modern day Nashville and that could have tremendous impact in terms of the knowledge that could be garnered from it," he said.

On Friday, Bender along with a group of Native American activists as well as preservationists met with Metro leaders, archeologists and project manager, Ron Gobbell.

They want Metro to delay the project to continue digging for other artifacts that may not be accessible again for years. They're also asking for an interpretive center to be included with the stadium plans to showcase the property's unique history.

Gobbell said the discovered artifacts were found at the lowest point crews will dig, and after carefully excavating them they covered the area with fill dirt to protect any other unearthed items.

The work, however, has to go on if the Sounds will play ball there next spring.

"We certainly understand the impact that site has had on our culture and that's one reason we're trying to protect it," he said. "The history of the site is very importantly culturally, and what they said is actually being who we are is very relevant, but at the same time we are preserving it and I think we're still on track for the spring of 2015."

While it isn't likely construction will stall to dig for more items, Bender and others think a delay by a few months is nothing when you consider the thousands of years of history that could just be a few more feet down.

"So that people, modern day Nashvillians, and other Tennesseans can see the extent of the glory of Native American past," Bender continued.

Gobbell said they are working with Metro leaders to figure out how to incorporate the site's history for future ballpark visitors.

A final report on everything found at the site by a private archeological firm is due in May.

Email: aghassemi@newschannel5.com
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