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Artifacts found near Fall City

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FALL CITY _ When construction crews set out to build a soccer field


in Fall City last month their plans were quickly ditched after artifacts


were found in the churned-up dirt.


Work began at the county-owned Fall City Community Park near


State Route 203 and Neal Road on June 5. The Snoqualmie Valley Youth


Soccer Association received a $50,000 grant from King County that would


have allowed them to build a new soccer field at the park.


The grant was part of the county's Youth Sports Facilities Grant


program. The county provided the land and monetary resources and the


soccer association hired the construction workers.


After three days of construction, however, the project was halted


because crews uncovered ancient remains in the soil.


Butch Lovelace, of the King County Parks Department,


confirmed that "basic archaeological


material" was discovered at the site and they found "evidence that there was


Native American presence" in the area. But he would not comment further on


the types of material found at the park.


The Snoqualmie Tribe also refused to comment, as well as


officials from the Snoqualmie Valley Youth Soccer Association and Northwest


Archeological Associates, the firm hired by the soccer association.


Now the representatives of the different groups are trying to map out


a plan of action and are scheduled to meet this week after the Valley


Record goes to press.


"We will discuss what the next step will be … but no decision will be


made at that meeting. It will be a starting point," Lovelace said, adding that it


is uncertain whether the area will be excavated, covered or an option in


between.


The officials have been keeping the latest discovery a secret, they say,


to minimize the chances of vandalism or looting at the site. Last Friday, a


chain-link fence was constructed around the perimeter of the area to keep


intruders out, and members of the Snoqualmie Tribe have set up a


24-hour watch over the site.


According to Washington law, if anyone is caught removing,


altering or excavating any materials from the location, they could face up to


five years in jail and/or a $10,000 fine.


Though officials have not released much information about the


artifacts, the area isn't new to archaeologists. Historically the land was an


"important habitation site of the Snoqualmie Indians and the location of


the longhouse of Chief Sanawa, a leader among the upper Snoqualmie


people at the time of the signing of the Point Elliot Treaty," according to a


historical section found in the Tollgate Draft Environmental Impact Statement.


Another ancient Snoqualmie site was uncovered two years ago


at Seattle's Tolt Filtration Plant near Duvall. Archaeologists from


BOAS Inc. excavated the area for about six months and recovered more


than 20,000 stone artifacts. It was determined that the Snoqualmies


probably used the 3,000- to 7,000-year-old site as a tool-making area.


The BOAS archaeologists used the opportunity to teach Chief


Kanim Middle School students about archaeology and the history of the Tribe.


In the mid 1980s, an archaeologist tested the site and probably


decided not to go through the costly process of excavation, said Charlie


Sundberg, the preservation planner for the county's Landmark and Heritage


Program.


"If there's no pressing need to excavate, it's best to stabilize the site


and leave it alone and be aware of it," he said. "Testing may reveal some of


the nature of the site and may provide useful information, if not all the


[needed] information."


The soccer field project was not supposed to disturb the artifacts


that were just beneath the surface. Sundberg said that it was a case


of miscommunication between the soccer association, county, contractor


and archaeologist that led to the latest incident.


"The assumption was that the removal of vegetation wouldn't


disturb the site," he said. "Some of the


archaeological materials were closer to the surface and the excavation


went down a little farther [than planned]."


"So it was a case that everyone had good intentions, but they got


some wires crossed," Sundberg added.

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