AP NEWS

Delaware Tribe seeks archaeological survey in Lawrence

March 2, 2019

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The Delaware Tribe has requested an archaeological field survey to look for artifacts or human remains at a site in Lawrence where county officials plan to build a mental health center and housing complex.

Brice Obermeyer, director of the tribe’s historic preservation office, requested the survey in the area where tribal members once lived. Douglas County is planning to build a mental health crisis center, 10 cottages and a supportive group home at the site to address housing and treatment shortages for the mentally ill in the Lawrence area.

Tribal historians told the Lawrence Journal-World that members lived in northeast Kansas for 30 years and some were buried in Lawrence. In the 1860s, the tribe was forced to give up their Kansas land and move to Oklahoma, where they’re currently based in Bartlesville.

“Obviously, we’re making the request because we’re concerned about the location,” Obermeyer said.

The tribe requested the archaeological survey as part of the project’s environmental review. The review is required because of the proposed use of federal funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Douglas County voters in November also approved a quarter-cent sales tax to fund the behavioral health campus, and money from the city’s affordable housing fund will go toward the group home.

County Administrator Assistant Jill Jolicoeur said the archaeological field survey will be conducted as soon as possible to keep the process moving forward.

It’s illegal under state law to disturb unmarked burials. If human remains are discovered, the Kansas Historical Society board will decide a course of action.

If artifacts are found at the site, another phase would be needed to determine whether the archaeological site is historically significant, said Tim Weston, an archaeologist with the state’s historic preservation office.

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Information from: Lawrence (Kan.) Journal-World, http://www.ljworld.com