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Iowa pipeline construction crew stumbles upon what could be a Native American burial site

Ian Harvey

Industrialization throughout North America continues to expand daily. Whether new buildings are being built, new roads put in, or new oil resources discovered, the work is endless.

Just recently, construction workers in Iowa stumbled upon what may be a native America Indian burial site. The workers were laying a new crude oil pipeline route, but work has since been stalled for excavations to begin to determine whether or not that area is, in fact, a burial site.

The pipeline passes through the Big Sioux Wildlife Management region in Lyon County. This is one of the traditional areas where the Dakota Indians lived , and where some of the Standing Rock  Tribal leaders confirm there is a burial site.

One of Iowa state’s archaeologists, John Doershuk, said that the site had been identified by the tribe in the area. They said that the area has a historical and cultural significance that is most associated with burial sites.

Due to the Iowa law, construction must be halted until the excavations are finished. Doershuk now must study the entire area to determine whether or not the remains and the area are more than 150 years old. If Doershuk’s analysis considers the area to be an ancient burial ground, he is to alert the state so that they can protect it from further disturbances.

The Sioux were given the land in that particular region by the United States Government by signed treaty back in 1851. This information was posted on the Lyon County website. The wildlife in the area is managed by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, however, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service owns the property.

Back in March, the federal agency had allowed Iowa permission to issue a permit to build the pipeline through the area. However, just last week, the state agency permit was revoked because of the new discovery.

A spokeswoman for the agency’s Midwest region, Mara Koenig, stated that they didn’t send a letter to the DNR to stop the clearing and ground disturbances until there was an investigation to support whether the remains are over 150 years old. Last Thursday, the state sent a “stop work order” letter to the contractor on the site.

Dakota Access LLC is based in Houston and was seeking to build a 1,150-mile pipeline in order to carry over a half-million barrels of oil a day. This oil would be carried from North Dakota to a storage facility in Illinois. For this particular pipeline, construction costs were estimated at more than $3.8 billion. The project has since begun in three different states – North Dakota, South Dakota, and Illinois. However, the Iowa Utilities Board hasn’t been authorized to continue the work.

The spokeswoman for Dakota Access said that the project isn’t all that affected by this discovery since the work hadn’t yet begun. Lisa Dillinger stated that the company and its workers are aware that there might be an archaeological site being discovered in the near future, but it hasn’t yet been confirmed. She added that if there so happens to be a site in the area, the company will work with special agencies in order to make the adjustments needed to continue the building of the pipeline.

The tribal leaders in the area said that the discovery of the possible burial site shows why building agencies of all kinds should slow down during the building processes. State and federal agencies need to plan more thoroughly and study up on those particular areas, especially in a case like this where a pipeline is being built.

Dave Archambault II, the chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, said that the consequences from speeding up this building project gives the tribe members apprehension toward Dakota Access Pipeline. He added that they are possibly about to destroy the tribe’s important cultural and historical sites.

In the same area, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is hoping to build a pipeline. The Corps has yet to issue the special permits needed. The permits are being reviewed since the pipeline would have to run through river crossings and other federal lands.

A Corps spokesman, Ron Fournier, said that if this area is an Indian historical site, it could delay their permits, causing them to have to realign the pipelines.

Lead images, Wikilastrealindians.com