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Indian Burial Grounds: Rest In Peace

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Author Topic: Indian Burial Grounds: Rest In Peace  (Read 382 times)
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« on: July 19, 2009, 08:43:15 am »

But not all mounds look like the stereotypical bump in the ground. Some were never more than a foot or two high, and others have been flattened by plowing and other activity, Anfinson said. If burial pits remain underground, the site is still considered a graveyard.

It's those invisible remains that create controversy -- like an incident at Bloomington Central Station, where construction was halted in 2004 after bulldozers uncovered bones. The remains of 55 people were found on the site. Indian activists protested, but eventually an agreement was worked out to re-inter the remains nearby and the project continued.

Feelings from that incident remain raw, and Bloomington and other cities are trying to ensure it does not happen again. Now, more than 250 mounds in 16 groups along Bloomington's Minnesota River bluffs are marked on planning documents, Senior Planner Bob Sharlin said. The city has a mound preservation plan, and some mounds are fenced off. The city also investigates any reports of people digging in the area, and when land deeds are registered, the presence of mounds is noted.

Development along Eden Prairie's bluffs, where mounds also are located, is limited by city ordinance. Buffer zones have been established, as state law requires, and developers are warned not to disturb the graves. "Most people are respectful," said John Gertz, who until May was the city's historic preservation planner.

In Mound, a church redesigned an addition when construction unearthed bones on one side of the site. The city's building permit application included a warning that property owners were responsible for checking the city's comprehensive plan to see if Indian remains were on their land.

Jones said that disturbed sites are the hardest to deal with. He makes recommendations to tribal councils on whether a site should be protected or whether remains should be relocated.

He said he has encountered heavy equipment operators who are even worried they'll be haunted by the people they have unwittingly dug up. Most people want to do the right thing, Jones said.
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