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Archeologist doesn't believe story about native burial ground

Susan Gamble - Expositor staff
Brantford Expositor
Wednesday, May 10, 2006 @ 01:00

[SISIS note: The following mainstream news article is provided for reference only, as an example of how mainstream media treats indigenous resistance to genocide. Mainstream media often presents biased and distorted information, lacking pertinent facts and/or context. Inclusion of this article on our site should not be considered an endorsement by SISIS.]

The chances that there’s a native burial ground on the site of the Caledonia blockade are between nil and one per cent, says the archaeologist who evaluated the property.

Native protesters say that a dowser someone who searches (usually for water) by using sticks that point downward has said the 40-hectare site has between 3,700 and 3,800 bodies buried there.

Protest spokesperson Janie Jamieson said Tuesday that the natives are working to verify those numbers.

But Paul O’Neal, chief archeologist with Mayer Heritage Consultants in London, said his firm found no evidence of human remains during an extensive examination of the property.

“We certainly did not find any human remains not one finger bone. There was nothing.”

O’Neal said Mayer Heritage has worked for both developers and natives in Ontario and has, in other cases, found, reported and dealt with human remains.

Developer Henco Industries answered the rumours by saying its archeological assessment was accepted by the Ontario Ministry of Culture, which oversees how such assessments are done.

A second report on adjacent property, also occupied by the natives, is just recently in the hands of the ministry.

O’Neal said the site contained “tens of thousands” of artifacts, but there was nothing unexpected on the property.

“We found exactly what we expected in an Iroquoian site between 500 to 1,000 years old: some pieces of nicely decorated pottery, some projectile points.”

When O’Neal says there were more than 10,000 artifacts, he’s referring to thousands of “cherts” flaked pieces of stone that are dropped when someone is making an arrowhead, for example.

“Ninety per cent of what we found are these little pieces of cherts. Most people think they’re just pieces of rock.”

Someone on the site found some bones and took them to Six Nations Coun. Barb Harris, who is also a nurse. Harris told O’Neal the bones were not human.

Some on the protest site have accused Mayer Heritage of shoddy work because protesters have been able to find artifacts arrowheads and cherts easily on the site.

O’Neal said that’s not surprising since an assessment on the property isn’t designed to locate and remove every bit of history.

Instead, the archeologists use a grid to search one-metre square samples every five metres or so, based on standards set by the ministry. Such a search costs between $50,000 and $200,000.

“If we had to do every square foot, it would take two or three years and cost $1 million or more,” O’Neal said. “The cost of housing would triple.”

There may, he said, even be a body or two on the property, since pioneers or natives may have buried a family member on their property.

But the odds of missing a burial ground, especially one with several thousand bodies, “aren’t even on the grid.”

“That would be the find of the century,” said O’Neal. “In the 10 years I’ve been doing this, I’ve never heard of a human burial uncovered after the archeology was done.”

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