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Native Americans May Boycott Native American Days

Tanya Jourdain, reporter Jill Seiler, web producer

Native American Days begin Friday at Angel Mounds. And there are still hard feelings over what happened to the only Native American on the staff.

They're setting up for their biggest event of the year. But some Native Americans are planning not to show.

It all started 8 months ago when the only Native American employee at Angel Mounds, Bill Spellazza, was transferred temporarily to New Harmony State Park to catalogue artifacts there.

"Stories came out that he's been kicked out of Angel Mounds, he had lost his job title, which none of this was true", says Angel Mounds board member Bill Simmons.

Simmons, a Native American, says it was all a misunderstanding. "It's turned into this dramatic soap opera."

Spellazza is now back at work at Angel Mounds. But some remain upset with the Department of Natural Resources, not just over that issue, but because of how the DNR has been dealing with Native American remains. And they still plan to boycott DNR run Angel Mounds.

"We really don't expect anything to really happen." Angel Mounds site manager Mike Linderman says the boycott hasn't hurt attendance so far this year. "Our attendance has been exactly the same as it was last year and our donations are actually up $4-5,000."

And Linderman, and others, don't expect a big difference in attendance at Native American Days either. "We're hoping for a very good turn-out as usual", says Simmons.

Those who are boycotting plan to attend the pow wow in Petersburg this weekend instead.

Native American Days featuring crafts, dances and exhibitions runs from 9 to 5 Friday and Saturday.

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