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October 31, 2014

HOT BLAST: Oxford and its Native American history are in the news again

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Posted: Thursday, August 14, 2014 9:30 am | Updated: 10:55 am, Thu Aug 14, 2014.

It's common knowledge in these parts that Oxford's expansion of its offerings -- shops, restaurants, sports -- south of Interstate 20 has been fraught with concerns about the region's Native American history.

It's an old story, really.

The shortest version: Oxford built a shopping center, and has finally broken ground on a sports complex, at a site archeologists say carries significant Native American meaning. Oxford has been widely criticized for how it has handled the situation in recent years, and its decisions have even led to major cost overruns on one of the projects.

Again, an old story.

That hasn't stopped a reporter from the online Vice News site from writing about the opening of the Sam's Club in Oxford and the Native American situation there. There's nothing in the report that The Star hasn't covered in detail through the years. (Vice News links to a long list of Star stories, so you're welcome.) Thus, I'll give a brief synopsis:

  • The reporter, Anna Gaca, appears to have spoken to people at the Sam's Club grand opening, but she didn't print the people's full names. Why?
  • Gaca refers to Jacksonville State University as "Jackson State." Oops.
  • Oxford Mayor Leon Smith reportedly told Gaca, when she asked about all this, “You know what B.S. is, right?”

Listen, it's been easy to be critical of Oxford's Native American mistakes. They're obvious and well documented. Many people -- including The Star's editorial board -- raised a ruckus at the time, and it didn't stop Oxford from continuing with its plans. What's done, sadly for history, is done.

But, in total fairness to Oxford, Gaca's report didn't mention this -- that Oxford has made a recent effort to include Native Americans in plans for the sports complex. (Critics would say that should have been done in earnest years ago, but that's a topic for another time.) The Star covered all this earlier this month.

If you're going to tell a story, tell the whole story.

-- Phillip Tutor

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