FW: Federal Court Hearing on Burial Ground continues

Craven, Jim jcraven at clark.edu
Wed May 28 12:55:14 MDT 2003

Contact: (509) 429-3508             (914) 414-4343

State Claims Surveillance Camera Discovered Near Spiritual Encampment Put
There to Protect Remains; Tribe Never Told About Camera in their Burial;
Expert on Native American Graves Protection & Repatriation Testifies on
Federal Law; Vice Chair of Yankton Sioux Tribe Expresses Deep Disappointment
at the Corps & State

The Ihanktonwan were back in Federal court in Sioux Falls again on Tuesday
for continuance of evidentiary hearings on the bulldozing of their ancestral
remains, squaring off against the state of South Dakota and the US Army
Corps of Engineers. Testimony of witnesses for the tribe continued
throughout the day.
One young Ihanktonwan man, Harris Baker, was called to testify about the
discovery of video surveillance equipment belonging to South Dakota
Department of Game Fish and Parks that was hidden in the woods and aimed at
the Ihanktonwan spiritual encampment. Ihanktonwan people have expressed how
upset they were that their ceremonies may have been recorded illegally,
without their knowledge, by the state of South Dakota. If it was that the
state installed the camera to protect the burial grounds and provide
security, as claimed at the hearing yesterday, and was not meant to record
tribal activities, the Ihanktonwan are asking why they were never informed
about the presence of the video surveillance unit. Tribal people wonder
whether the camera was truly meant to protect the burials and from whom the
state was protecting the burials, since it has been in the process of
bulldozing and desecrating the burial areas ever since it began
construction. Baker was also questioned about witnessing the presence of
bones outside the "crosshatch quadrant," a limited area within the burial
Site C that the state and Corps have been asserting contain the only bones
in the burial grounds. The Tribe then called Sherry Hutt, an expert on
cultural resource protection acts like the Native American Graves Protection
and Repatriation Act, Archaeological Resources Protection Act, National
Environmental Protection Act, and the National Historic Preservation Act,
the responsibilities of agencies to adhere to these laws, and their
violations. She talked about the difference between an "inadvertent" and
"intentional" discovery of human remains, stating that an "inadvertent
discovery" under NAGPRA occurs whenever remains are found and the parties do
not agree on how to handle them. All removal of dirt must cease and a 30-day
waiting period is required before any more digging is allowed.
Vice Chairman of the Yankton Sioux Tribe, Robert Cournoyer, went to Sioux
Falls with other members of the Business and Claims Committee to witness
firsthand what was happening. He stated that he was not at all pleased with
what the state and Army Corps is doing to the tribe, that they have been
thwarting the Tribe's efforts at respectful treatment of their ancestors
since the remains were first discovered at North Point. At the same time, he
said he wholeheartedly supported everyone from the Tribe who has been
involved in the process since the very beginning. Expressing that litigation
is not always the best way to resolve matters, he felt that it was what the
Tribe was forced to do at that moment. Cournoyer ended by saying, "Indian
people are always dealing with these kind of things, we always have to
defend ourselves. But Indian people are survivors and somehow or other we'll
survive. We've survived many atrocities, so we'll survive this atrocity the
state and Corps are doing to us too, and we'll come out on top down the
road. We're going to come out on top."

Contact: (509) 429-3508             (914) 414-4343

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