Debate over saving enigmatic stone mounds of Alabama

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More than 1,000 years ago, people walked the hills of what is now Calhoun County (USA). Most traces of them are gone, but the American Indians who called this land home left a few markers. Some are scattered on hilltops in the form of sacred mounds. One pile of stones on a particular hilltop evokes the curved body of a snake. And there are formations with purposes unclear and at times in dispute. All of these sites are part of a slowly unfolding story, one archaeologists hope to tell by learning more about them - if development doesn't destroy these places first.

In recent years, American Indian groups have pushed for greater recognition and understanding of these sites, which they believe are sacred. The controversy surrounding a stone mound on top of a hill in Oxford (Alabama, USA) pushes every button that could set off alarms for these advocates. Until recently the city, through its Commercial Development Authority, planned to demolish the hill underneath the mound, estimated to be at least 1,000 years old.

Robert Thrower, cultural authority director for the Poarch Band of Creek Indians in Alabama, said he is unsure whether officials intend to preserve the mound."I don't think we're any better off now than when we first started," he said."At this point in time, there's been no indication from city officials for a guarantee of preservation. What's going to happen three months from now or a year from now?"

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