Robert Carr
Archaeologists uncovered nine circles that may have been residences of the Tequesta.

Illegal Decision Puts Tequesta Native Village Site Under Hotel

Christina Rose

“The mediator browbeat the mediation group,” Bush said. “He kept saying, ‘This is the best you can do,’ and he avoided the lawsuits. The bottom line is, it was a site of major proportions, and the building could have been redesigned to preserve most of it, it could have been a win-win, it could have been a park or a heritage site, but the developer didn’t want to redesign it. It’s a major travesty and a perversion of governmental processes.”

Bush hoped the Seminoles or the National Parks Service would save the site, “something that showed respect for what was there before. The developer knew all along this was a potentially significant site. To have given it such short shrift was unconscionable to me,” he said.

A manatee bone pendant, a shell knife, a ladle made from a whelk shell, and a piece of decorated pottery are among the artifacts found at the site, preserved below 100 years of asphalt. (Robert Carr)

Before the mediation, the Urban Environment League of Greater Miami had called for a year’s delay before determining the site’s outcome. “What was the rush? Obviously, the developer’s money,” Bush said.

Gary Bitner, spokesperson for the Seminoles, said they look at all archaeological sites as important and of direct interest to them, and are involved in the research and discussion that comes out of that. “The tribe hasn’t taken a position, there are a variety of positions throughout the tribe about it, and it is not appropriate to just state one,” Bitner said.

The building that will sit upon the remains of Tequesta will be a $600 million hotel, restaurant, retail and entertainment complex. The building will take up the whole site, and at the ends, the Tequesta’s circles will be exposed and preserved with glass, and there will be a small museum area.

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