Two years ago the Otter Mound on Marco Island was turned into a community park. The mound was built by the Calusa centuries ago. About 100 years ago, Ernest Otter built his house on top of the mound. The house burned down about 30 years ago. Although the Calusa had a capital and major mound city on Marco Island, this is one of the few remains from the former Calusa who lived here.
This video appeared on the Naplesnews.com website. (Naples Daily News newspaper.)
On the video, you can see a lawn care worker ripping the place apart with a motorized augur.
This is almost more than I can stand. I am all in favor of replanting with native plants, but with the augur it is like a pot holer / artifact looter came in and ripped apart the ground. Such as what happened for years at Scott Springs in Ocala. (Now Celebrate 2000 Park.) Digging up the ground like that will destroy any integrity for future archaeological investigation.
Is this work really necessary?
Why can't the mound be interpreted as a mound, a cultural site, with the least disturbance as possible? This is primarily a cultural site, and should be interpreted as such. Yet what they are doing is turning it into a tropical hardwood hammock.
But was this mound really a hardwood hammock? It was probably not, otherwise Ernest Otter might not have put his homestead on top, and found another place easier to clear. Many mounds are dense packed shell, and sometimes the ground is barren on top because of the alkaline from the shells in the ground.
The original management plan of the park by the Bureau of Historic Preservation tells about developing and interpreting this mound as a cultural resource. It mentions nothing about turning it into a hardwood hammock. And listed in this earlier report, it says how they went to so much care to carefully clip and removed the brazilian pepper branch by branch, so to be careful not to disturb the ground. But I guess now it is okay to gouge it out with the motorized augur.
My inquires this morning to both Conservation Collier and the Florida Bureau of Historic Preservation have gone unanswered. Probably not important to them.
Also on top of the mound is an old wooden outhouse, the last remnant of what Otter built, with a sign, “historical structure.” I think that is prefect, because it is a metaphor for what modern man has done to the aboriginal sites and the native people the past 500 years.
Here is the outhouse:
This really surprises me Chris. I sit on the Trustee Steering Committee at Gilbert's Bar House of Refuge and it sits upon a midden.. hell the entire ocean dune along there shows occupation. Anyway, we are not allowed to go deeper than 6 inches without an archaeologist on site. It was so frustrating working around Bob Carr's people out of Miami, our Keeper, Linda went to UF and took a course so "she" could oversee any groundwork. She is now VP of SEFAS, South East Florida Archeology Society. Anyway, I am very surprised they are legally able to do more than scratch the soil. I wonder if anyone has ever explained to the "garden club" the irreparable damage they may be doing. Approached correctly, they may change their methods and plans once enlightened. Worth a try if you can't get the County to respond.. You must know some Seminoles that could make a phone call Chris.. they assimilated those indigenous Calusa's that were left so their blood runs common. Billy Johns once told me they have a Calusa Green Corn Dance when I asked him about the Calusa's and their assimilation.