Entertainment complex may compromise Tequesta Indian site

Archaeologists dig for more artifacts

MIAMI – The site where a new movie theatre is supposed to be built is under question after some say construction crews could be ruining a historical treasure.

Archeologists are digging as fast as they can, but they have only a few more days to learn what they can about the Tequesta Indians who once lived on the site.

Soon, the bulldozers will move in and begin clearing the way for a massive new entertainment complex in the heart of downtown.

"I think the archeologists really need to see what's out there," said Jeff Ransom of Miami-Dade County's Office of Historic Preservation.

Ransom is calling on the developer to give the diggers more time.

In recent weeks, he says, they've discovered a significant number of Indian artifacts in at least five different spots, proving, he says, 500 years ago this was a thriving, riverside Indian settlement.

Ransom believes these archaeologists have only scratched the surface of what lies buried in the limestone bedrock.

"Stonehenge wasn't looked at in a month, in six months," he said. "It's taken decades to really know what these sites are all about."

The problem is, the county has no jurisdiction here. It's in the city of Miami, which gave the developer a building permit 11 year ago, before an archeological survey was done.

The plan has been on hold all these years, but now this land is ripe for development.

The archaeologist working for the developer didn't return Local 10's calls, but he has agreed to cut out one of the three circles scientists have identified and move it to another part of the property.

At the point, it appears the city of Miami doesn't share the county's concerns about losing this historically significant site to another downtown skyscraper.

"It's the last of a culture that's no longer here, the Tequesta, and it would be sad to see it go," Ransom said.

Local 10 also reached out to the City of Miami's interim preservation officer to find out if the city is aware that the digging is scheduled to stop next week. Our calls were not returned.

On Tuesday,k a group of native Americans plan to hold a pray vigil at the site at noon, hoping to bring a little more attention to what's about to be lost.