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Soccer field may be excavated

FALL CITY _ More than two weeks after Native-American


artifacts were found by crews building a soccer field here, the question of what


will be done next remains undecided.


The King County Park System and the Snoqualmie Tribe are


considering three options. Andy de los Angeles, an ethnoarchaeologist and


former chairman of the Tribe, said two proposals involve excavating the site.


One proposal calls for a complete excavation, while the other recommends


a partial excavation. A third option is to cover up the site.


But de los Angeles said the artifacts shouldn't have been dug up


in the first place.


"They didn't follow our recommendation when I was chairman.


… We knew there was a site there," he said.


De los Angeles said the Tribe had previously recommended that


instead of removing soil to level the ground, topsoil should be brought in to


cover the site. That way any artifacts buried in the soil would be protected.


Butch Lovelace, program manager for the King County Park System,


said the county knew of the Tribe's recommendation, but planning for the


soccer field had taken several years, and during that time personnel involved


in the project changed. He said the recommendation didn't make it


through the various personnel changes.


"The project has been going on for a number of years," he said. "The


issues that needed to be communicated were not." Lovelace added,


"There was no deliberate intention or


desire" to not follow the Tribe's recommendation.


Al Dams, spokesman for the King County Park System, and


Charlie Sundberg, preservation planner for the King County Landmark and


Heritage Program, both said it was known more than 10 years ago that the site


contained Native-American artifacts. The soccer field was being constructed


at the county-owned Fall City Community Park near State Route 203


and Neal Road.


"It contains a state-registered archaeological site," Sundberg said.


"I think it was found during the mid-1980s."


Dams said a piece of machinery called a "sod stripper" was used at


the site to remove soil. He said no arrowheads were found during


construction, and as soon as artifacts were discovered by an on-site archaeologist,


work was halted.


"It was found by the archaeologist who was on the site while the


brush clearing was occurring. That's what she was there for," he said.


"What was found was burnt rock, charcoal and flint, which


essentially is fire pits and the stuff you find in


a fire pit," Dams said.


After the artifacts were found, a fence was erected around the site


and members of the Tribe camped there to protect it. De los Angeles said that


just days after the artifacts were discovered, looting occurred.


"The site was already vandalized," he said.


The artifacts were found by an archaeologist from Northwest


Archaeological Associates of Seattle. Northwest Archaeological Associates


had contracted with the Snoqualmie Valley Youth Soccer Association,


which was building the soccer field.


When contacted, Chris Miss, the archaeologist at the site, referred


questions to county park officials and the Tribe.


Soon after the materials were found, a meeting was held


between the different parties to discuss the findings. Dams said nothing was


decided at the meeting, including what to do with the artifacts that were dug up.


"You could just cover up the site. You could excavate the site.


Potentially those are the two options," he said.


"Now how we move forward and still build a soccer field is


undetermined."


De los Angeles said the site dates back 3,500 years, but that


could change.


"We could see it as an older site if we are allowed to collect data,"


he said.


He said he expects the artifacts that were recovered would eventually


be given back to the Tribe, and, "If we find remains, of course, they'll be


reburied."


Bud Raisio, president of the Snoqualmie Valley Youth Soccer


Association, said the prospects for completing the soccer field are grim.


The new field was supposed to help the organization's bulging roster,


which currently serves more than 2,000 Valley kids, 5 to 17 years old. The


association fields approximately 250 teams.


Without a new soccer field, Raisio said, it's possible more kids won't


be able to play.


"In a couple of areas we have restricted participation because of


lack of playing space," he said. Because of the work stoppage on the site, he


said, "This will be more frequent."


Raisio said the association was building a full-sized soccer


field, which could be divided into smaller playing fields.


"The Fall City field was just going to be such a perfect site for us,"


he said.


The field was being paid for with a county Youth Sports Facility


Grant. The county approved $50,000 for the site, while the soccer association


contributed $25,000.


But with no soccer field and no definitive word on what will


happen to the site, Raisio said the association has moved on to "Plan B."


"We're out searching again (for another site)," he said.


Dams said he is optimistic a soccer field will eventually be located


on the land.


"I just will say we haven't given up on the project," he said,


although he warned, "There will not be a soccer field this year. That's for sure."


Lovelace said the county wants to work with the Tribe to arrive at a


solution, but it won't happen overnight.


"This is new territory for a number of people. We don't want to


rush ahead and do the wrong thing," he said.


"The relationship with the Tribe is important to us, and we don't want


to move too quickly without having a clear directive from (the Tribe) and


a clear understanding."

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