Construction On Hold After Work Crew Discovers a Slave Graveyard

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Robison Wells
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The Cherokee County School Board stopped construction of the School of Innovation and Technology building project in Cherokee County, North Carolina, due to workers uncovering the presence of a slave graveyard that dates back to the Civil War.

Board members discussed the topic at a meeting of the Cherokee County School Board this week. They announced the involvement of the state's archeology office and historical preservation society in the matter.

Archeologists speculate the graveyard to be the family plot of a slave-owning Confederate general who lived in the area.

Construction crews rarely find ancient burials; in most cases, authorities call in archeological teams to excavate and repatriate artifacts. However, in this case, with the remains being so recent, the course of action remains undetermined.

Caution prevails. School board attorney Dean Shatley told the board: "I think we're going to be prepared in the small likelihood that something does happen; but otherwise, I feel pretty confident about moving forward [with the construction]."

Although technically, work crews have the legal right to advance the project, most board members expressed a desire to halt progress until all parties could review the circumstances and define a course of action.

"Our decision to do this is solely because we are an educational institution, and we would like to pursue what is right," Superintendent Jeana Conley told board members.

Having uncovered a historically significant slave burial ground, members of the Cherokee County School Board halted the construction of a well-anticipated educational building to determine an ethical plan to move forward.

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