Quad Cities Native American groups concerned about Coal Valley development

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COAL VALLEY, Ill. (KWQC) – Four months after a nearly 91-acre development was approved in Coal Valley, two Native American groups are raising concerns about the site.

“The last survey done was in 1961 so that's like what over 50 years ago, so we definitely feel that there should be a complete archeological survey performed in this area,” said President of the Native American Coalition of the Quad Cities Regina Tsosie.

Wednesday night, Sept. 5, the NACQC, along with the ‘Sage Sisters’ held a joint press conference saying Indigenous sacred sites and burial rounds may be desecrated in Coal Valley because of a development.

On May 2, the Village of Coal Valley approved a request be developers Clint Zimmerman and Jon Gochee to divide 91.4 acres of land near US-6 and Glenwood Road into nine lots.

According to the village, documents provided by the developer showed no indigenous or sacred sites are documented on the land.

A letter from Prairie Archaeology and Research to Zimmerman and Gochee read in part:
“Our review found no reported or suspected burial mounds, cemeteries, burial monuments, or isolate human remains recorded in the State or Federal data files…”

The full letter can be found attached to this story. The group cites a review of the Illinois DNR geographical information system database.

The two Quad Cities Native American groups say differently. In a press release Wednesday they wrote:

“We have documentation from files of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources that indicate that there are six known burial mounds located in this area with the potential of more historical Indigenous sacred sites/burial sites. We strongly feel that this area has an extensive potential of being rich in cultural and prehistoric value and magnitude. Near this area, there are four known and documented burial mounds above Oakwood Country Club, Coal Valley, Illinois, in which there were found Indigenous quarried materials and prehistoric artifacts.”

The groups have not provided KWQC with the documentation they are citing. They say it was given to them by archeologist Karen Atwell in the form of a map. They say they do not want to share that map because they are fearful people will try to destroy the areas.

The village of Coal Valley President Mike Bartels says they are open to looking at the additional documentation, but right now he has not seen any and believes they made the best choice based on the information provided to them.