Retail giant Wal-Mart plans to destroy a Native American ceremonial mound in Alabama and is replacing it with one of its membership-only retail warehouse club stores. According to the Anniston Star, a Sam’s Club store will be built where the mound stands.
City officials in Oxford, Alabama have spent $2.6 million to raze the 1,500-year-old Native American rock mound behind the Oxford Exchange retail outlet to make way for the new Sam’s Club store.
Wal-Mart first announced the plan for the new store in 2008 and when the city started to dig at the site in 2009, it stirred up controversy with its plan to use the dirt as fill for the proposed store. After a few years of back and forth arguments, the city reached an agreement with the Muscogee Creek Nation Indian tribe in 2011. The new Sam’s Club store is projected to be completed by next summer.
“What it’s going to be is more prettier than it is today,” Oxford Mayor Leon Smith said.
Mayor Smith insists that the Native American ceremonial mound is not man-made and was only used to send smoke signals.
“The City of Oxford and its archaeological advisers have completed a review and evaluation of a stone mound that was identified near Boiling Springs, Calhoun County, Alabama, and have concluded that the mound is the result of natural phenomena and does not meet the eligibility criteria for the Natural Register of Historic Places,” Smith stated in a news release.
Native Americans are outraged and have held protests against the mound’s demolition. Someone even altered a nearby road sign of the Leon Smith Parkway to read “Indian Mound Parkway.”
Local resident Johnny Rollins is furious about the mound being torn down. His Native American grandmother taught him when he was younger, that after she died, he could go on that mountain to talk to her.
“She knew she was going to die. She said any time I wanted to talk to her, go to that mountain. It seems like it’s taking part of you away. I always felt I had ties to that there,” Rollins told the Anniston Star.
City leaders have changed their story and now claim that they have never used the dirt as fill. But some local residents have witnessed construction workers hauling dirt from the mound to the Sam’s Club development site.
“I mean really, I went there, saw the giant trucks deliver the earth straight from the mound to the construction site and I still can’t believe what they are doing,” local resident Ginger Brook said.
According to Sam’s Club Manager of Public Relations Mark Scott, this will be Alabama’s 14th store and will create 175 new jobs.
“I don’t have a lot of details, but I can confirm that we anticipate starting construction in the near future and plan to open in the summer of 2014,” Scott said in a statement.