Still no answers in controversy over Native American burial grounds in Fort Myers

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FORT MYERS, Fla. — A North Carolina-based real estate development company still hasn’t answered questions from Fox 4 about possible Native American burial grounds or artifacts at the site of a new apartment complex beginning to go up. in downtown Fort Myers.

Mayor Kevin Anderson said Wednesday he’s directed the city attorney to contact Zimmer Development’s attorney to request copies of all reports they have written on the property, including an archaeological survey of the site that was conducted this year.

The findings of this study are still not publicly available.

People like Natalie De La Torre Salas, a Florida Atlantic University archaeologist and residents of Fort Myers, are concerned that the First and Fowler Street site contains artifacts or burial sites that date back to the Seminole Wars in the 1850s.

“I am happy that the mayor spoke about it and that this issue continues to be covered by the media,” says De La Torres Salas.

She gave Fox 4 historical contexts of the site, explaining what it was used for.

“We know that there are civilians, prisoners and other people who would have lived here and who would also have been buried here. So we know there are Native American burials here, we just don’t know all of that information because the focus has been on the military context of the site,” she says.

She also says that she and her colleagues have been trying to contact Zimmer Development for months to try to retrieve the site’s survey findings.

“To date, we have received no response from them,” she said. “What could be the reason not to share it with the people of Fort Myers? With the appropriate officials, with us archaeologists who just want to protect and tell the story of this site’s past.”

Mayor Anderson told Fox 4 there is nothing the city can do at this time to stop or suspend the project because the city also wants to see the results of the company’s archaeological survey of that land.

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