Racine City Council votes to sell possible Native American burial ground

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Racine City Council votes to sell possible Native American burial ground

By Shannon Sims. CREATED Oct 3, 2013 - UPDATED: Oct 3, 2013

RACINE - A small patch of land is at the center of a cemetery controversy. The Racine City Council sees it as a way to make money. But others say it is sacred ground.

"We didn't put headstones up. These mounds were our headstones," said William Brown. "These are sacred places to us, our people were buried here."

Brown's ancestors are buried in Mounds Cemetery. He got upset when the Racine City Council voted to sell part of the site to the Meredith family. And he's not alone.

"I want to know how would the Maresh-Meredith family feel if we wanted to buy one of their sites and dig it up," said Timothy Campau.

At issue is whether or not the part of the cemetery sold is Native American burial ground, or not. It depends on which map you look at.

In a statement in part the Meredith family said:

"If this parcel of land is an Indian burial mound, we equivocally do not want to pursue purchasing graves in this location. Rather, this area should be given its due honor, respect, reverence and recognition."

Mayor John Dickert agrees. If it's not an Native American burial site, profits from the sale would help the cash-strapped cemetery.

"Candidly we need to raise funds to keep the cemetery open. And these people say they will do all the work for us."

But William asks, at what cost?

"It shows a great deal of disrespect for protections, that's assumed in a cemetery."

An archaeologist will be out at the site Friday morning to bore holes in the ground and determine if there are any remains on the site.

Shannon Sims

Shannon Sims

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Shannon Sims joined the TODAY'S TMJ4 team after working (most recently) with the morning team on FOX19 in Cincinnati, Ohio.