Native artifacts in area halts work on CHS athletic fields

INDEPENDENCE -- Work on Central High School's forthcoming athletic practice fields northwest of campus on 16th Street has been delayed after it was learned Native American artifacts were previously fo



INDEPENDENCE -- Work on Central High School's forthcoming athletic practice fields northwest of campus on 16th Street has been delayed after it was learned Native American artifacts were previously found near the site.

The discovery was actually spurred by wetland mitigation the school district has been conducting on 1.67 acres of the property, which sits across from Talmadge Middle School.

Environmental consultants found that flint shards, which suggest arrowhead making, had been reported in past field studies about a mile to the northwest.

Per state law, the district has filed for a permit with the Oregon State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) for a more thorough study of the land.

The district has hired Portland-based Archaeological Investigations Northwest (AINW) to do test excavations starting this week. That work will take several weeks.

Multipurpose fields are a component of the $47.3 million high school reconstruction project. Work on the facilities was to start by early October and conclude by next June.

The hope now is that the fields will be available by at least August 2010, said Mike Maloney, bond project manager.

"If we hadn't been down the wetland mitigation path, we would be developing this right now and not even aware that there was an issue with these artifact findings," Maloney said.

State law requires study and permitting for land work on known sites of archaeological significance or if artifacts are inadvertently discovered during construction.

Three regional Indian tribes, Grand Ronde, Warm Springs and Siletz, were all contacted about the find for preservation or reclamation purposes.

Warm Springs indicated it had no problem with the project, and the other two gave no response, Maloney said.

A 30-day window for objection by other stakeholders has come and gone without comment, Maloney said. AINW representatives will start digging exploratory pits this week.

Before it became a city, Monmouth was on the northern edge of lands belonging to the Luckiamute band of the Kalapuya tribe.

Even today, farmers and archaeological enthusiasts continue to find arrowheads and shards along the Ash Creek corridor.

The district desires the practice fields to accommodate sports practices and to preserve the football field turf for football games next year.

If more items or human remains are found, school officials would have to develop short-term practice facilities elsewhere.



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