State Archaeologist: Proposed Location For New Grissom Was Once Occupied By Native Americans

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - There is a stunning new development concerning one of the proposed locations for a new Grissom High School.

On the same day a town hall meeting is planned to discuss the options, the Alabama Historical Commission says the proposed site off of Weatherly Road should be reconsidered. State Archaeologist Stacye Hathorn sent a letter to the school superintendent Friday to make the school district aware her office has received a number of phone calls from concerned citizens.  Hathorn said at least three archaeological sites will be impacted by the construction. 

Hathorn said the land was occupied by Native Americans, and the site is known to have human burials. The letter says the location is protected by the Alabama Burial Act.

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WHNT News 19 spoke with Hathorn on Monday about the matter.

"The law is to protect the people's heritage, human remains and to be respectful of them. You can't just go into a cemetery and dig it up," said Hathorn. You can't go in and dig up Indian remains, either."

The archaeologist says Native Americans lived at the Weatherly Road location from 12,500 B.C. to 1,500 A.D.

WHNT News 19 has contacted Huntsville City Schools for reaction to this news.  We also talked to James Brown, an organizer of a scheduled town hall meeting, about the letter.

"I was surprised. I saw the letter this morning," said James Brown.

The town hall meeting is tonight, Monday, January 14 at Grissom. 

"I don't think it will really have an impact on our meeting. I think you will want to be there to hear the presentation if you are a resident of south Huntsville or parent of a student coming up in the Grissom area," added Brown.

The Director of Operations for Huntsville City Schools is scheduled to speak about the various locations and take questions.  The meeting is in the auditorium and starts at 7 p.m.

A spokesman for Huntsville City Schools released a statement for the district:

"Huntsville City Schools has extensive research conducted on property that could be used for an educational facility.  Typically, the information will look at a variety of statistical, topographical, environmental, etc. issues to be considered before construction would begin."

The spokesman told WHNT NEWS 19 the school district is seeking information from outside parties about its current proposals.

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