Culture News

Unearthed Native Burial Site in Eager, Arizona Causes Uproar in the Native Community

In April, 2011, construction began on a two-acre family fishing pond in Eager, Arizona. It was an Arizona Game and Fish project that, in its beginning stages, relied on an archaeologist to survey the land for potential historic properties and important cultural remnants.

Unfortunately, the archaeologist wasn't officially certified, a group of high school students was given the green light to operate earth-moving machinery across nine acres of land, and what began as a community project became a chain of huge mistakes by government agencies involved and what Phoenix New Times staff writer Monica Alonzo calls a "swath of sprawling desecration" in this week's issue of Phoenix New Times.

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Alonzo traveled to Eager to speak with members of a 10-member convoy of representatives from several tribes including the Zuni, the Hopi, the Navajo Nation, and the Acoma who were accompanied by 14 state and federal officials. She writes:

Bones -- including skulls, ribs, femurs, jaws, and fingers -- from at least 10 ancient adults and adolescents were ripped from their graves, broken and scattered by bulldozers and backhoes. The devastation occurred in late April 2011 when the Arizona Game and Fish Department started construction on a public fishing pond.

When Kucate and Pasqual see some of the remains in piles of dirt scooped out of the ground, disbelief clashes with a welling sense of sorrow.

"It was so sad looking at all the remains, lying there," remembers Kucate, head tribal councilman for the Pueblo of Zuni.

Read the full story, "Desecration: Unearthed Native Burial Site Causes Uproar," in this week's issue of Phoenix New Times.

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Claire Lawton
Contact: Claire Lawton