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.”

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