Feature Indian Burial Grounds

Learn more about Indian burial grounds.

Indian Burial Grounds

In the early 1700s, it became clear the Appalachi had chosen the wrong European ally. The British had set their sights on weakening the Spanish missions in Florida.

In 1704, they overran the San Luis territory. The Spanish and Appalachi barely escaped, fleeing the mission and burning the buildings so the British could not occupy them.

In the ensuing years, the Appalachi who weren't killed or enslaved dispersed or went into hiding. A group of their descendents eventually made their way to Louisiana where just a couple hundred descendents live today, still practicing Catholicism.

For thousands of years, Native American burial sites lay sacred and undisturbed. But in the 18th and 19th centuries, as cities and towns expanded, often they were plowed over or dug up by treasure hunters.

The Grave Creek Mound in West Virginia once housed the remains of the Adena civilization's most respected members. In 1838, profiteers ransacked the site and tourists were charged an admission to look at the bones.

A 100-years later, in 1935, gold diggers became grave diggers when they stumbled on the Spiro Mounds in Eastern Oklahoma. So many artifacts were found that the site became known as the "King Tut of the West".

In 1990, under pressure from activists, a federal bill was passed banning the illegal trafficking of Native American remains. Archeologists were given strict time limits on how long they could study bones and artifacts before returning them to their tribes. But the struggle continues, especially when graves are unearthed by construction.

In 1998, crews building a Wal-Mart outside Nashville found an Indian cemetery. Despite protests, the remains of 154 men, women, and children were unceremoniously removed.