Local Native American Group Objects To Coal Valley Project

Sep 17, 2018

Some local Native Americans are concerned about a new housing development in Coal Valley that may be on the site of a burial ground. Collin Schopp reports the village board approved in May the 91-acre project.

   

Developers Jon Gochee and Clint Zimmerman plan to build several new homes on Glenwood Road in Coal Valley, just east of Oakwood Country Club. Regina Tsosie is the president of  the Native American Coalition of the Quad Cities. "There were concerned citizens who were against the development, so we were alerted to that," says Tsosie. "And according to the citizens, they believe that this property lies on burial mounds, or burial grounds, or prehistoric artifacts, things of that nature."

She met with the developers to discuss preserving the mounds. And they said an archeological study didn't find any. But Tsosie says that study is inaccurate.

Members of the Native American Coalition say the housing project is more than just a threat to historic preservation. "As an indigenous woman, I feel that this violates my first Amendment right to my freedom of religion, my spirituality," says Tsosie. "Because, in a lot of our indigenous ways, we honor our people. Just like you honor your dead, you have cemeteries you go to, and honor your relatives. Well, we have that same right too."

Tsosie says the developers may be violating state law. But work began on an access road last month.

The Native American Coalition has sent letters to legislators, city officials, and others to try and get construction stopped, or at least a new archeological study.