Sunday, October 8, 2017

Native American group voices concern over proposed International Village in Ypsilanti and evidence of sacred burial grounds in Water Street area during City Council Town Hall Sunday.

Photo Purple Walrus Press.

By Editor and Publisher Jeff Brown.

An Ypsilanti City Council Town Hall hosted by council member Beth Bashert with City Manager Darwin Mclary took place Sunday, Oct 8 at the Ypsilanti Senior & Community Center. The event was held in order to discuss the proposed International Village development which would be built on the Water Street property in Ypsilanti. Recently some city officials have been criticized for taking a trip to China that is connected to International Village. The community seems to be divided as to whether or not the city officials should have accepted the trip to China.

But amid the discussion pertaining to the trip to China, representatives from an Native American organization took the floor and spoke about an issue very important to them..

According to representatives from the North American Indian Association of Detroit and Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi Tribal Government, the proposed International Village development in Ypsilanti that could break ground, may be located on or near sacred Native American burial grounds. Representatives from both organization spoke at the Ypsilanti City Council event held at the Ypsilanti Senior & Community Center Sunday afternoon.

Representatives of the Native American organization, included NAIA President Linda Schuyler and Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi Tribal Council Treasurer Jeff Chivis. It was my understanding that Schuyler and Chivis want to make sure that the City of Ypsilanti and the developers are sensitive to the possibility that the proposed International Village may be built on or near native American sacred burial grounds at the Water Street location. Indeed, according to a September 5, 2010 article in the now inactive YpsiNewscom by Laura Bien that addressed Native American burial grounds, "There’s other evidence that the burial sites were not confined to the Riverside Park area. In 1914, burial sites were discovered in the Water Street area, at Parsons and Lincoln streets. In 1914, the Westfield and Fall River Lumber company had a lumberyard there. Behind it lay a gravel pit, where the graves were discovered."

As I understood the discussion during Sunday's Town Hall, Schuyler and Chivis asked that they be directly informed and consulted with by the City of Ypsilanti if any evidence is found that Native American burial grounds may be disturbed during the development process for the proposed International Village. Bashert and McClary agreed.

Darwin McClary and Beth Bashert. Photo Purple Walrus Press.


  1. In the past I seem to remember that MSHDA looked into the possibility of burial sites and couldn't find evidence of any.

  2. When I worked for the city 2006-2008, with primary responsibility for maintaining already-awarded financing, negotiating with a proposed developer, contracting for additional clean-up, etc., no one ever approached me about this possibility, nor did I see anything in the files about this issue. There's been so much fill on this site, I'd be surprised if any graves or artifacts exist, but I'm glad the issue has been raised and the Native American and city reps seem to be open as to how to proceed.