Developer giving more time for Tequesta Indian village dig

Prayer vigil held at site of ancient Tequesta Indian village

MIAMI – A group of Native Americans wants a developer to delay construction at a downtown Miami site where an archeologist is digging up the remains of an ancient Tequesta Indian village.

MDM Development-hired archeologist Bob Carr began digging about a year ago at Southeast 3rd Avenue and 3rd Street. A prayer vigil was held at the site Tuesday.

"This is a big piece of history, world history," said Catherine Hummingbird Ramirez, who described herself as a queen of the Carib tribe.

Miami-Dade County's Office of Historical Preservation asked MDM Development to give the archeologist more time, but the city of Miami has jurisdiction over the site and already gave the development permits to build. The entertainment complex will house a hotel, movie theater, and retail space.

"We're 95 percent finished but we're not finished," said Carr, who also serves as a consultant to the city of Miami.

Carr said crews have dug down to the bedrock and retrieved almost everything from the site. MDM Development has agreed to extract one of the five Indian circles discovered and relocate it to a plaza area of the new complex so visitors understand the site's historical importance. The only way the city of Miami could have preserved this privately-owned lot, he said, was to buy it.

"Ideally, it would have been an incredible archeological park but the city, the state, government doesn't have $25 to $50 million to acquire [it]," Carr said.

"Can they at least, out of their heart, build above it, around it, or something or the other?" said Hummingbird Ramirez.

MDM Development, which has spent more than $250,000 on the dig, has agreed to let the archeologist continue for a couple more weeks until all of the history there has been unearthed. Construction is set it begin in October.