Indian tribe wants highway clear of sacred mound

Monday, September 25th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

(Lawrence, Kansas-AP) -- An Oklahoma tribe is trying to get Kansas officials to re-route a highway around a mound tribal members consider sacred.

The Kaw Nation wants the Kansas Department of Transportation to steer U-S 59 clear of the 20-foot-by-20-foot area in Douglas County. The department plans to rebuild the highway as a four-lane highway east of the existing site.

Kansas transportation crews found the site during work on an environmental impact statement. Tribal officials thought the site might be a burial mound, but ground-penetrating radar revealed the mound didn't contain bodies.

Instead, it contained a large stone at one end and a ring of smaller ones.

Clyde McCauley is vice chairman of the Kaw Nation, which has headquarters in Kaw City, Oklahoma. McCauley says the stone configuration is religious.

In a letter, the tribe asks Kansas officials to ensure the new route doesn't cross the site.

Kansas transportation spokesman Marty Matthews wouldn't comment on specifics of the mound, but said it was premature to focus on that issue to the exclusion of others.