Local Native Americans aim to protect New Albany's Cannon Acres - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Local Native Americans aim to protect New Albany's Cannon Acres Park from dog park plans

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- It's a battle over park land in New Albany -- land that a local Native American group argues is sacred ground.

When Tony Nava walks the grassy fields of Cannon Acres Park, he thinks about his ancestors who lived there long ago.

"Living in the primitive wasn't exactly easy," Nava said. 

Archaeologists found Native American artifacts and prehistoric materials buried deep underground. According to the Kentuckiana American Indian Advocates, it's a Shawnee Indian ceremonial site.

"It's not every day that you stumble across a 6,000-year-old site in your backyard. Why do you want a bulldozer to come in, and in 15 minutes, eradicate 6,000 years of history from the face of the earth?" Nava asked.

The city of New Albany wants to build a dog park on the land off Budd Road and Highway 111 as part of Mayor Jeff Gahan's recreational improvement plan.

"There's a Frisbee golf course here, as well as a dog park with a water feature," Gahan said. "A great place for people to enjoy with their family."

The city has already sketched the outline for the dog park, with orange flags dotting the land. Construction was supposed to start this week.

"Right now the last thing we'd want to do is be disrespectful to anyone," Gahan said.

Gahan says the city built its plans around the known archaeological land, though one space is being challenged because of varying reports. In 2005, searchers found a significant number of artifacts in the space. Later surveys determined the same area was not eligible for the National Register or Historic Places.

"I think the important thing you do is make sure you have the latest report," said architect Larry Timperman.

But Nava wants to stop any construction before it starts, pushing for the preservation of the entire park, saying anything less would dump on his history. 

"Allowing domestic animals to come in and do their business on this site is a desecration," he said.

The Indiana Historic Preservation Office is reviewing the state archaeology reports on Cannon Acres Park. By law, if remains or other historic materials are found during construction, it must be reported. 

Nava has also launched an online petition and notified the Shawnee Indiana tribe in Oklahoma about the land dispute. 

The dog park is expected to open this year. 

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