Thursday, September 24, 2009

Westerly Sun - Discovery of Indian remains ends housing plan for elderly

posted by JimP

Click here for the full article

"The senior housing was one piece of a larger project that calls for a total of 40 units of affordable housing to be built on a 3-acre parcel owned by the town. But to get to that site, the developers also needed to buy a 6-acre parcel owned by Cheryl Weeden of North Kingstown, which turned out to have an Indian cemetery on it when it was surveyed on Sept. 11 by the Public Archaeological Lab.

Alan LeVeillee, senior archaeologist with the Pawtucket-based PAL, said yesterday he walked the proposed housing site and did a visual inspection at the request of Washington County Develop- ment Corp. His preliminary inspection, which did not involve any digging, revealed not only a cemetery but also stone structures that may have been used by the Narragansetts in years past for ceremonial purposes, LeVeillee said.

Specifically, the structure may relate to a crowning ceremony, which the Narragansetts were known to undertake when they went into a new area and allotted a piece of property to a member of the tribe, LeVeillee said. Because of what he saw, LeVeillee said he determined that the site, by law, required further study before it could be used for the affordable housing project.

“It seemed to me that several things needed to be clarified,” said LeVeillee."


Tim MacSweeney said...

Annual report of Commission on the affairs of the Narragansett Indians... - Google Books Result: "There have been during the progress of the survey about two thousand horizontal angles turned three hundred and fifty corners and bounds determined and between seventy five and eighty miles of lines run the aforesaid corners or bounds of the several tracts being mostly defined by marked trees and stones packed around them some of them however are large heaps of stones or large peaked stones set on end
... the head of the applicant, and place therein a twig; which ceremony was called crowning, and by this act putting them in full possession of the land..."

pwax said...

It looks like Alan Leveille has finally gotten a clue.

JimP said...

One of the most interesting parts of this story is the fact that LeVeillee was hired by the developers. No one can accuse him of having an agenda.

Anonymous said...

At least the title didn't mention rock piles as the cause for no development. things get dicey if developers think these sites will get in their way of making money.

JimP said...

I must admit, I have no idea how he is making a connection between the crowning ceremony and stone structures. The only report I've yet read of the crowning ceremony tells of placing turf on the head and adding a twig. Tim supplied us with part of the ceremony above. There's nothing about stone. So I have to wonder where this information originates.

There is an interesting connection between the twig in the ceremony and the reports of Indians laying twigs upon Sacrifice Rock near Plymouth.

I'm fairly certain that the majority of Indian-made stone heaps, cairns, and structures in Rhode Island originated in ceremonies concerning the dead. They occur near cemeteries, graves, or are places of memorial, sites of untimely deaths, shrines, etc. Not all Indian-made stone structures suited those purposes, but according to my research most did.

The local ethnographic literature is teeming references to stone heaps. It's all there. Someone just has to bother to look for it like I have.

Tim MacSweeney said...

I wonder if perhaps some of the features are stone rows related to burning over selective areas bounded by the rows. I've wandered a bit around Charlie Town (and beyond), following rows that isolate "heaps" and also surround many places where low bush blueberries still grow...