Drawn from Ethnological and Anthropological Notes on Moosehead Lake, by Joseph D. McGuire, 1908.
A group of collaborating Native American tribes has offered to work with Massachusetts towns to identify landscapes of ceremonial or religious significance to their heritage, and Wendell is taking them up on that.
The history of indigenous ceremonial stone landscapes and the importance of maintaining their integrity and tranquility was explained to the Selectboard by Doug Harris, deputy tribal historic preservation officer for the Narragansett Indian Tribal Historic Preservation Office in Charlestown, R.I.
Harris said these sites probably exist in every town in the state, and Wendell is no exception.
A comprehensive resource listing of the ongoing situation in Sandisfield/Otis, MA, along the planned route of the Kinder Morgan – Tennessee gas pipeline expansion project.
“FERC filings and newspaper articles are expressing some deep concerns over Kinder Morgan / Tennessee Gas’s (TGP”) plans for dealing with ceremonial stone landscape (“CSL”) features sacred to native peoples with cultural, religious and historical connections to land in Sandisfield, Massachusetts along the proposed route of the TGP Connecticut Expansion Project.
73 CSLs were identified in an on-the-ground survey conducted by several Tribes in the second half of 2016. According to Deputy Tribal Historical Preservation Officer Doug Harris of the Narragansett Indian Tribe, a full one-third of these CSLs will be destroyed during the construction of this pipeline.”
A short article by Lisa McLoughlin of the Nolumbeka Project, outlining a number of useful strategies to recognize and preserve existing Native stone assemblage sites. Ongoing land development and a general lack of public awareness, not to mention ignorance or dismissal, brings constant destructive pressure upon these ancient interactions of land and spirit.
“…I’d say that while many stone features have been destroyed, there are still thousands left. They are hiding in our back yards, in our state forests, along our waterways — everywhere in plain sight. Help others realize why they should be respectful of these when they find them, help them imagine what it might mean to have a religiously-important structure (e.g. something built to honor someone in your family) technically belong to someone else, or be at risk from vandals, pot-hunters, and developers. These stone structures are examples of how humans found a way to interact respectfully and in a mutually-beneficial way with nature. They are Natural Cultural nodes, blueprints for how we will need to think in the future if we are to survive and allow our natural world survive. They are important beyond the specific, and they should give us hope.”
Kimberly D. Bose, Secretary
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission 888 First Street NE, Room 1A Washington, DC 20216Re: Docket No. CP14-529, TGP Connecticut Expansion Project
Support for Narragansett Indian Tribal Consultation on Traditional Cultural Properties
Dear Secretary Bose:
The Nolumbeka Project is a non-profit corporation with an all-volunteer board whose mission is to preserve, protect, and educate the public about Native American cultural resources in what is now called New England and the Northeastern United States. We are writing to voice deep concerns over plans of Kinder Morgan/Tennessee Gas (“TGP”) that will result in the destruction of ceremonial stone landscape (“CSL”) features sacred to Tribes with cultural, religious and historical connections to land in Sandisfield, Massachusetts along the proposed route of the TGP Connecticut Expansion Project (FERC docket #CP14-529, the “Project”). As TGP is well aware, 73 CSL features were identified in an on-the-ground survey conducted by several Tribes in the second half of 2016.
According to Deputy Tribal Historical Preservation Officer Doug Harris of the Narragansett Indian Tribe, a full one-third of these CSL features will be destroyed during the construction of this pipeline. Although some have suggested that it would be acceptable to disassemble the features and reassemble them when construction of the Project is completed, Mr. Harris explains that their disassembly would be an interruption of the prayers placed there. According to Mr. Harris, “Then what you have is an artistic replica of something that was spiritual. Once you remove the stones, the spiritual content is broken.”
On December 29, 2016, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”) sent a “Notification of Adverse Effect” to the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation’s Office of Federal Agency Programs, seeking resolution of this matter. FERC’s Environmental Assessment (“EA”), issued in 2015, included alternative routes that may have avoided many of the CSLs, but FERC approved the primary route before the CSL survey was undertaken. Thus, the FERC certificate was issued in violation of the implementing regulations of the National Historic Preservation Act (the “NHPA Regulations”), which require that the agency “complete the section 106 process ‘prior to the issuance of any license.’” 36 CFR 800.1(c). This regulation also makes clear that the purpose of initiating the section 106 process early in project planning is to ensure “that a broad range of alternatives may be considered during the planning process”. 36 CFR 800.1(c).
Disturbance or destruction of these sites would further erase traces of a part of our history, and a still living segment of our culture that is already too often ignored – that of this region’s first peoples.
To disturb these ceremonial features is damaging to the religious sensibilities of our Native citizens who still embrace the beliefs of their forebearers. Proceeding without full Tribal participation “in the resolution of adverse effects” is an unconscionable act that also violates the NHPA Regulations, specifically 36 CFR 800.2(c)(2)(ii)(A).
Regardless of our heritage, all citizens of our region would be poorer for the loss of these original historic sites, and their destruction should not be allowed.
FERC should not allow the Project to proceed before this matter is fully and properly resolved. Furthermore, Sandisfield Taxpayers Opposing the Pipeline (STOP) filed a request for a rehearing of FERC’s order issuing the Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity in April of 2016 that has yet to be acted upon. FERC should grant the rehearing request without further delay, taking into consideration issues raised by the Narragansett Indian Tribe, STOP, and others over the course of the FERC proceeding.
Nolumbeka Project Co-President
cc: Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, Office of Federal Agency Programs;
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
A letter from a Narragansett Indian Tribal official to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the federal Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) accuses FERC of understating the “likely” destruction of “ancient ceremonial stone landscape features” along the path of Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company’s proposed new storage loop through Otis State Forest.
In his Jan. 3, 2017, letter, Doug Harris, the Narragansett Tribal Nation’s deputy tribal historic preservation officer and preservationist for ceremonial landscapes, said FERC’s Dec. 29, 2016, letter to Reid Nelson, director at ACHP, which was copied to preservationists from seven different tribes, “mildly portrays the dire” consequences of “bulldozing” sacred features on the company’s newly acquired easement there.
Read the entire story in The Berkshire Edge.
Last month, representatives from the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe, Mohegan Tribe, Narragansett Indian Tribe and Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head, along with representatives from other tribes, participated in a weeklong ceremonial stone landscape identification training. Upon completion of the program, the Tribal Historic Preservation Offices certified the 12 participants as field specialists.
Under the guidance of the Tribal Historic Preservation Offices and its landscape mapping partner — Ceremonial Landscapes Research — the tribal representatives will work with a mapping team to identify and document ceremonial stone landscape sites.
Any project requiring funding, licensure or permits from federal agencies must comply with Section 106 of the National Historical Preservation Act of 1966. According to the act, before construction can begin, properties that are important to federally recognized tribes and have a cultural or historical significance should be documented in consultation with the affected tribes. Once studies have been completed, the tribes, FERC and the project proponents are required to work together on a plan to avoid, minimize or mitigate the project’s impacts.