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      Tribal leaders meet at Florence County archaeological dig site

      South Carolina archeologists have recovered Indian relics near the site of a highway project in Florence County.

      Now, the officials are asking descendants of those long-ago people to get involved in deciding what to do with the artifacts found there.

      Before the SC Department of Transportation can widen U.S. Highway 378, the agency is required to do a survey to discover whether anything culturally historic might be found in the road corridor.

      On one site, the survey uncovered the evidence of ancient Indians.

      "That would be projectile points, ceramics, things of that nature," said DOT archeologist Chad Long.

      Some of the artifacts are sensitive enough that Long and other archeologists met at the site Thursday with leaders of local Indian tribes, to get them involved in deciding how to handle the items.

      "I am well satisfied and I applaud them for what they have done to alert the local tribes about this area," said Pee Dee Indian tribal Chief James Caulder.

      Many of the artifacts being found at the site are quite ancient, from an era long before the Indians who lived there had any contact with white people.

      "As old as probably 8,000 years ago, up to about I'd say 1100 to 1200 A.D.," Long said.

      Long says the excavation work won't delay widening the highway, since it will be done before the road construction contract is put to bid, and he says the site won't cause the road to be re-routed.

      "We looked at alternatives to avoid this site and we did an alternatives analysis and determined that alternatives to avoid it would either be too costly or would impact businesses and residential locations."

      The tribal leaders hope what will happen is that ultimately, the Indian artifacts being found there will be treated with respect.

      "The same dignity that these folks had many thousands of years ago, we would like to maintain it today," Caulder said.