But not before Indian tribes have completed an archaeological survey of the pipeline route, the largest effort of its kind in
Surveyors, hailing from several Upper Midwest tribes, may have already found the remnants of a long lost tribal village. They are documenting everything from traditional wild ricing spots to buried artifacts.
“We’re helping to preserve what’s ours,”
The approved route of
Connecting bands to their history
Under federal law, the Corps must consult tribes on historic-preservation issues. In those talks, the tribes pushed for the cultural survey. They weren’t satisfied with an earlier archaeological survey done by an
“Our history has been erased,” said
The Ojibwe, originally from the
“A tribal survey of this magnitude, with so many tribes involved — this is the first time it has occurred,” said
More than a job
On a recent day, the survey crew of 26 Indians included members of the
The crew’s leader explained the day’s objectives while workers passed around a conch
The crew then split into four groups and headed to different locations on the pipeline route. Dunham, who works for the Rosebud tribe, spent the day at a site near
“To me, [the work] is a blessing,” she said, shovel in hand. “I know it sounds hokey to some people, but it’s been spiritual to me.”
Other crew members concurred. “It re-centered me and put me back in touch with the native community,” said
Now he runs a fishing-guide operation, allowing him time to work on the survey.
“It’s more than a job,” he said. “When you hold a piece of pottery in your hand, for a split second, you are in the space of someone who held it two or three or 10 thousand years ago.”
Surveyors have found pottery shards, as well as points from spears or arrows, possible stone tools and bison bones that have been broken to scoop out marrow. What appear to be human-made mounds have been discovered, though it’s not clear yet if they are burial grounds.
Perhaps the most exciting find, so far: possible evidence of a “hidden” Dakota village. Ojibwe oral histories describe a Dakota village obscured by an earthen berm, said
A spot along the pipeline route — complete with earthen berm — matched the location and lore of the hidden village.
“It’s pretty amazing,” said Jones, a member of the
Using the results
When surveyors find a significant site, they aim to get it listed on the
But the new Line 3 crosses plenty of land ceded under duress by the Ojibwe in the 19th century. The tribes claim treaty rights to hunt, gather and fish on those lands.
The Corps, after meetings with the tribes last year, ordered that a tribal cultural survey be done on 66 miles along the route. At the tribes’ behest, the Corps later increased that requirement to 201 miles, and
“We have not done something of this magnitude with the tribes,” Hahn said.
Jones is on leave from his job as cultural resources director for the
A similar incident occurred in 2015 when Indian burial grounds were breached during a road construction project in
A ‘living connection’
Through a tribal lens, the cultural survey takes a broader view than traditional archaeology.
Historically significant places can be directly tied to the present: for instance, wild rice waters and maple-sugaring spots that have been used by generations of tribes. The same goes for a field dotted with traditional medicinal plants.
“There is a living connection to the history,” Jones said.
To survey the route, Jones uses everything from global positioning devices to oral histories from tribal elders. He’s particularly searching for “cultural corridors” — waterways and trails that tribes have used for hundreds if not thousands of years. Insight into these places is best found within the tribes themselves, Jones said.
“We need to hear the voices of traditional people when we start talking about archaeology,” he said. “That’s what makes this project unique.”
(c)2018 the Star Tribune (Minneapolis)
Visit the Star Tribune (Minneapolis) at www.startribune.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.