DAYTON — A local Native American is speaking out against the city of Dayton’s plans for a new football field at Triangle Park to commemorate the NFL’s very first game nearly 100 years ago.
The city announced plans in March to build the field with a $440,000 grant from the NFL in honor of its first game played at Triangle Park on Oct. 3, 1920, between the Dayton Triangles and Columbus Panhandles.
The celebration of the NFL donating money to build the field at the park is just a couple days away, but one Native American leader said the area is the site of ancient burial grounds. He wants to see any work to build a football field, at least temporarily, suspended.
“If it was up to me, they wouldn’t build at all,” Guy Jones of Dayton said.
He said the city and NFL should hit pause on plans to build a field at Triangle Park, but doesn’t think they will.
“This is going to happen because money talks. This will happen,” he said.
Jones showed News Center 7’s Mike Campbell maps and historical information that he said shows that large portions of Triangle Park are the site of Native American burial grounds.
He even showed artifacts that he said were uncovered when the tennis courts and baseball field were built at the park.
He doesn’t want to see a football field go in. His concern is that construction would disturb remains.
“We don’t know how many are excavated out of there and how many are left there,” Jones said.
Workers were driving stakes and putting up tents Thursday for the Dayton-NFL celebration on Saturday.
Sky 7 shows where the tent is, the city’s proposed football field will be built with the NFL’s donation money right next to it.
News Center 7 checked with the Society on Dayton Natural History. Researchers at Sunwatch Village confirmed that their information and maps reaching back 100 years show the possibility of two Native American burial sites in or near Triangle Park.
“Did they have knowledge of this? Probably not. Did they even consider this, probably not,” Jones said.
We asked Dayton city leaders about Jones’ claims. They told us the city is investigating the claims but they declined to comment. We also reached out to an NFL spokesperson and are waiting for a response.
News Center 7 did ask Jones why he waited for weeks to raise the issue.
“When they first announced it, I could have went then, but where’s the proof?”
Jones said he went to publicly available historical and archaeological internet sites to get information and maps to prove his claims
“Everything has to be validated. But who does the validating? White people do the validating so I had to get with white people to get their records to validate what we already know,” Jones said.
The marker is still at the park, marking 100 years of football. As far as the field, it would be a new 100 yards to mark it. News Center 7 will keep you informed on any new developments.