STATEMENT OF ISSUE: Reynolds Lake Oconee, LLC (Reynolds) proposes to construct a single-family residence on a lot presently containing a Native American burial, which was recommended as being eligible for the National Register of Historic Places. Reynolds proposes to relocate the human remains to an isolated, protected site within the development. The Muscogee (Creek) Nation has expressed concerns regarding the proposed disturbance of the burial site.
BACKGROUND: Development of this multi-phase, multi-acre residential/golf community began in the late 1980s, and the Savannah District authorized several Regulatory permit actions in the intervening years. Due to the extensive presence of historic resources onsite, the Savannah District, Reynolds, and the Georgia State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) entered into two Programmatic Agreements (PAs), in 1998 and 2005, and two Memoranda of Agreements in 2003 and 2008, to address the manner in which known and subsequently discovered cultural/historic resources would be addressed as additional portions of the site were developed. There was no formal Tribal consultation on any of the agreement documents. During previous archeological surveying, other Native American burial remains were identified within the development and disturbed without Tribal consultation. All previously disturbed remains and artifacts are currently located at the University of Georgia.
Following receipt of initial comments from the Muscogee (Creek) Nation and in response to Reynolds’ most recent request, Savannah District investigated the project history and began coordinating and consulting with all interested Tribes, including the Muscogee (Creek) Nation. On April 15, 2016, the Savannah District advised Reynolds, in writing, to avoid impacts to the areas in question until further notice.
The Savannah District has been actively coordinating with the Muscogee (Creek) Nation and the applicant. On May 1, 2017, Muscogee (Creek) Nation Principal Chief, James Floyd met with Governor Nathan Deal to discuss, among other things, the possible relocation of ancestral remains.
CURRENT STATUS: Savannah District is drafting a new PA to supersede all previous agreements and will include all interested Tribes.
DISTRICT POC: Mr. Kevin Thames, Regulatory Branch, (678) 422-1981.