Baseball91's Weblog

July 14, 2017

When Historic Preservation Begins

Again. The damage had been done, and the implications were clear. Like the rape of Mother Earth, in creating their territory with roads, like in Rondo, there was the State of Minnesota’s Department of Transportation.  viking hat

“I’m beginning to think we do not matter to you,” said member of the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Matthew Northrup. After five years of planning, the Fond du Lac Band was not consulted, no ‘flags’ were raised, where highway construction by the Minnesota Department of Transportation was taking place. Have you ever had to deal with the arrogance of the Minnesota Department of Transportation, no matter what political party held power?

Whose land? What treaty? Only after desecrating a cemetery in Duluth’s Fond du Lac neighborhood near Minnesota Highway 23, said Charlie Zelle, Commissioner for Governor Mark Dayton, after five years of planning: “We’re just beginning to understand the pain and the anger that comes from a disruption that we could have avoided.”

A disruption? This is a fake apology over the damage to burial places of the First People by a Minnesota state agency while building a new access road to West Fourth Street, replacing the Mission Creek bridge on May 15. Because the State of Minnesota’s Department of Transportation’s ‘process’ did not include working with the band, ‘the process’ had failed. Ten days later, the Fond du Lac Band was notified of work in the area. By a historian.

History is such a burden. It was announced that “The State” will study the bones and artifacts that have been unearthed in a non-invasive way. There was a time, perhaps when these bones of the Anishinaabe were buried, when Church was not split from state.

When you belong to a Land, you know things. Growing up in Fond du Lac, Historian Christine Carlson contacted the Fond du Lac Band after driving past the site on May 25th. This isn’t the first time construction has disturbed Fond du Lac graveyards, said Carlson. Noticing construction in the area that Carlson knew held documented graveyards, she brought the road construction project to the attention of the Fond du Lac. This land has served both as a gathering place as well as a burial site for Lake Superior Chippewa since at least the 1600s. Was it the first time the State of Minnesota failed to consider the historic nature of the LAND or the nature of the Peace Treaties?

Eleven days later, on June 6, 2017, human remains were found, which ruined “the process.” Said project manager Roberta Dwyer, “We need to restore and recover the graves that have been, unfortunately, damaged.”

Could you hear the missing passion in this statement? Did you ever identify the threat in all the Spiritual, Not Religious around in descendants of the Old World who have lost something, in the split of Church and State. People who think this is all hooey. With 50 states, there are all of these conflicts over the units – unitaty– making up the Spiritual identity of the political state. As if the new people would rob the sacred burial places, of the dead and of the living Spirits? Now the State of Minnesota’s Department of Transportation has to work to restore the affected area in partnership with the band. Shouldn’t it be the other way around? Initially, State of Minnesota’s Department of Transportation had stated that the State Historic Preservation Office which operates under the Minnesota Historical Society, also had to “approve” the plans. And imagine what would have happened without the publicity? Like in the days when the Authority knew those treaties would be lost if not forgotten. Gutless politicians.

The gutting. Minnesota Historical Society public relations manager Jessa Kohen wrote in an email to the Duluth News Tribune: “The State Historic Preservation Office was not given an opportunity to review and consult with Mn-DOT on the Highway 23 reconstruction plans in their entirety. In this case, State Historic Preservation Office was asked by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to review the bridge replacement portion of the road project, only.”

After human remains were found June 6, law enforcement authority has not arrested anyone under the employment of Charlie Zelle or Mark Dayton. Historian Christine Carlson tracked a similar history during the initial construction of Minnesota 23, of unearthed bodies. In 1937. An initial occurrence of unearthed bodies was in 1869 as railroad construction roused the dead. Said Fond du Lac Band Chairman Kevin Dupuis, “If I were to drive a backhoe through your cemetery, I would be arrested, I would be in jail.”




    In discussion about Indian Spirituality, I want to pose the study questions in a different order than found in the back of the novel, The Round House. The publishing house, per the study questions, seems reluctant – based upon other questions – to consider the Native religion as a real religion. To begin the discussion of the National Book Award winner in fiction backwards from the study questions: What is the importance of the Obijwe legends scattered throughout the novel, as you lived under a dominant power, with THEIR separation of Church and State? What can be learned from the old Ojibwe ways – without a separation – and how do the Obijwe legends reflect and deepen the main story? What is the significance of the territory and the building itself called The Round House, in Louise Erdrich’s book, and the space around the one-time place of worship? What is the connection of the American practice taking away the free worship by the children of Native Americans for one hundred years? In the attempt to annihilate their God, what is the importance of time and space connected to what has been lost? Compare the perspective of these first born sons of the North American continent to the stories of the Book of Genesis. Discuss the connection between a tribe’s Spirituality and the natural/ animal world, with the discovery that God is in all things – the Living God still in the God of the indigenous, like that in the trinity of the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob, as well as the Christian concept of the Trinity of God. So is Joe proud of his Obijwe heritage? What is the importance of time and patience connected to the next generation? How does Joe come to understand this Spirituality? And at what point is this understanding connected to the importance of Native customs and the Native language, now almost extinct? How does Joe come to understand the power limited if not missing in his father’s legal career, limited to tribal courts. And at what point is this understanding – in his mother’s examination through the archives of who authentically is a red-blooded Indian – expressed in what pain and suffering teaches not only over what his mother went through? And at what point is this understanding –– connected to the conflict of belonging, in the question over who really belongs here? What is the importance of time and patience connected to her healing/ recovery, after dealing with lost innocence? To acquire the power in understanding, what was the importance of Native customs and language in the hope, after a character had something that was not yours to take, taken away, in a book about recovery following a rape . . . “in my Family? On my tribal land, there was this forbidden act so near the Round House – the house of my God. . . Our God, in our Land. God’s land.”



    Comment by baseball91 — July 15, 2017 @ 12:45 PM | Reply

  2. Would that the American Indian Movement ever contact Immigration and Customs Enforcement about deporting all these European powers — the British, the French, the Spanish — who took over their Lands?

    “Name any agency in the United States—criminal justice, you know, Department of Justice, U.S. Marshal, even the FISA Court—and that’s in secret—has to have judiciary approval. Yet, Immigration and Customs Enforcement is saying to the courts—right? This is the third branch of government— ICE — saying to the courts, “You do not have jurisdiction over me.” That is what be at stake here right now.” — Ravi Ragbir

    Comment by baseball91 — February 23, 2018 @ 12:04 AM | Reply

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