the Native American Press
MMDC tribal chair Bob Brown points out that in the past the MHS has testified that artifacts previously unearthed in the area were not significant because it was not “an intact site”, the ground around Coldwater Spring having been disturbed for previous construction of the Bureau of Mines structures in the 1950’s, berm and road construction and prior usage by the nearby Veterans Hospital (VA).
According to archeologist Vergil Nobel from NPS’ regional Midwest Archeology
Center in Lincoln. NB, who is supervising the excavation, “the whole area
has been disturbed” but essentially the earth was moved around within
the bounds of the property so most artifacts would have remained, stating
they “do know there is archeological potential for early remains.” Even
if they fmd artifacts of historical significance, that is no guarantee
that the sale to MAC will not go through, cautioned Jim Anderson, Mendota
Cultural Chair and Historian. The community based Preserve Camp Coldwater
Coalition concurs that stewardship would be better entrusted to the Dakota
people and not the airport commission or
critical concern is nearby road construction currently in process which
according to hydrology studies could curtail up to one third of the groundwater
flow to Coldwater Spring resulting in permanent damage to the Spring,
even stopping its flow altogether. The DOT which is currently responsible
for the Spring has not taken any steps to seek protection of the Spring
and officials were naively unaware of the imminent situation.
addition to seeking to protect and preserve the area, the Mendota people
and the Coalition have also been seeking increased access to the sacred
site which is closed late afternoons, evenings, weekends and holidays.
Kyral of NPS reassured that the deed covenant for the sale would also
include language making the Spring accessible seven days a week with considerations
for security of the area At the same time, however, James Olson who currently
manages the site for the Department of Interior pending the sale, citing
“department policy”, denied a petition by the Mendota Mdewakanton Dakota
Community and MN Veterans for Peace to have access to the Spring for a
Veterans’ Day honoring ceremony, on Sat., Nov. 11, although tribal members
had previously been told that they may seek permission to have access
for ceremonies that do not occur during normal business hours. The annual
ceremony will still be held, outside the locked gates to the Spring near
the site where the Four Oaks, destroyed last year for the highway reroute,
The Mendota Mdewakanton Dakota Community who have spearheaded local efforts to save the Spring and the Coalition to Preserve Camp Coldwater who also oppose the sale to MAC urge people of the First Nations to submit their comments immediately to the National Parks Service which is conducting an historical cultural study of the area.
John Steinworth of the Preserve Camp Coldwater Coalition, Jim Anderson, Mdewakanton Dakota Cultural Chair and Historian, Jeanne Holiingsworth, Vergil Nobel of the Regional Archaeology Center, Bob Brown (back to camera), listen to JoAnn Kryal, National Park Service discuss 3-week dig.