Is Nothing Sacred? Archaeological Reviews and Tribal Lands

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The Northern Pomo people of California thrived in the lush wetland valley known as Bito’m-kai for millennia, fishing salmon from percolating creeks, gathering natural medicines and managing natural resources to feed thousands.

By the time anthropology researcher Samuel Barrett arrived in the early 1900s, many of the Pomo village sites he assiduously recorded had been abandoned. Barrett noted that the village of Yami, on the south shore of the valley, once “supported a considerable Indian population.”

More than a century later, state road building officials emailed chairmen of the Pomo tribes: Yami had been affected during nighttime construction of the Willits Bypass, a $300 million, 5.9-mile roadway that would cleave the valley. The village site had not been recorded by the California Department of Transportation’s archaeologists. Contractors had pierced it with 1,100 wick drains burrowing 60 feet underground and covered the area with tons of fill dirt.

Although it received no national media coverage, the 2013 destruction of Yami presaged what happened at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation on Sept. 3 – one of the most infamous days of the Dakota Access Pipeline protests. With cameras rolling, contractors started pushing dirt over burial sites within view of protesters.

Read the full report by Mark Dadigan in Reveal from the Center for Investigative Reporting.

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Local Action by Dakota Access Pipeline Opponents

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Every morning at Standing Rock protest camp in North Dakota began with prayer, said Anthony Melting Tallow, who visited the site last November. And during the day, everyone was invited to a water ceremony. But during the time of peace and spiritual gatherings, Tallow said, planes and helicopters were constantly circling the site. Across Highway 1806, Tallow recalls generators running 24 hours a day, lighting up a construction site for the Dakota Access oil pipeline.

The environment at Standing Rock was a contrast of two opposites, said Tallow, of Chicopee, who is a member of the Siksika Nation in Alberta, Canada. As he protested the pipeline Wednesday afternoon in Northampton, the Chicopee resident said it was hard to explain the feeling at Standing Rock. “The clearest definition would be love and hate … greed and generosity, right up against each other,” he said.

Read the full story by Caitlin Ashworth in the Greenfield Recorder.