During Monday night’s meeting of the St Augustine City Commission, Clan Leader Bobby C. Billie, representing the Council of the Original Miccosukee Seminole Nation Aboriginal Peoples, asked that archeologists recognize that Castillo de San Marcos, and the surrounding waters, are sacred burial grounds and that they be treated as such.
Billie delivered a presentation, “Other Side of Archaeology” accompanied by a booklet as a written record of his concerns to each commissioner.
“What you are doing is shameful — digging up our people and their belongings,” Billie admonished the mayor and commissioners. “They deserve the same respect you show your own.”
Members of the American Indian Movement of Florida, Ancient Trees, and others, encircled the fort as part of a “Do Something Right for Once” demonstration before Monday night’s meeting. The human rights activists have argued that the Castillo de San Marcos National Monument should be torn down or given to native peoples.
In organizing the 400th anniversary of the founding of Jamestown, planners included an Indian Advisory Committee; a component missing from St Augustine’s official 450th anniversary activities.
According to one account of Billie’s presentation by former St Augustine mayor George Gardner; Billie, and a half dozen aboriginal rights activists who spoke, charge that the city is “still not hearing us”.
Gardner reported that Billie, and others, are still smarting over Mayor Joe Boles hanging up on a conference call with them last June — resulting in aboriginal representatives calling off a proposed “healing ceremony” as one of the city’s 450th Commemoration programs.