Monday, November 07, 2011

Rock pile politics - Falmouth MA this time.

Lots of action today, for some reason, about threats to rock piles. The latest is that the Marthas Vinyeard and Nantuckett Steamship authority wants to build a parking lot on top of a cairn site that Jim Mavor mapped in Falmouth. This is a site I visit and show to people because it is very accessible. So I wrote a statement to be read at the town meeting and if any of you readers have a means of contacting the town, please think about making some kind of a fuss. Here is my statement:

Statement from Peter Waksman author of "Rock Piles" blog and resident at 103 Gardiner Rd, Woods Hole:

Long Ago Jim Mavor mapped the Native American ceremonial features that exist in and around Technology Drive off of Thomas Landers Rd in Falmouth. I have personally seen all of these same features and believe they are a precious resource from history and perhaps also from pre-history. These features consist of rock piles, also sometimes called "cairns", that are presumed to be related to astronomy but are, in fact, very little is understood. There are no cairns anywhere else on the Cape except Falmouth.

Thomas Landers Rd lies over an old Indian trail that the Indians used every summer as they made their way from Buzzards Bay over to the fresh water ponds and the Coonamessett River on their way to summer residences near Cotuit. It is not surprising that the cairns are concentrated in this area; although they can also be found in Beebee Woods, in the Webster Woods of Woods Hole, and in many of the kettle holes nearby.

I am told that the Massachusetts Archeological Society (MAS) has given the opinion that there is no such thing as Native American cairns, and that "invariably these are the bi-product of agrarian practices". I am told that MAS has repeated this opinion in judgement of the rock piles off Thomas Landers Rd. Although MAS has the authority and has the responsibility to make such statements, they unfortunately do not have the needed knowledge of the subject. The USET resolutions of the United South and Eastern Indian Tribes (resolutions #2003:022 and 2007:037) make it perfectly clear that these cairns are the work of Indians. The experts of MAS do not get out much and need to be ignored while Falmouth should take care of itself and listen to its residents.

Near Thomas Landers Rd, the Native American cairns are quite localized and yet they are surrounded by hundreds of acres of empty woods, woods that have nothing in them except blueberry bushes. So why risk destroying such an interesting mystery when there are so many excellent, harmless alternatives in the same neighborhood? There is no reason to be in a hurry and do these things carelessly and so I urge the Town to move to protect and preserve this heritage. Build the parking lot somewhere else!

Thank you.

Update I: I meant MHC not MAS for Mass. Historical Society.

Update II: I am told things did not go well at the Falmouth Town meeting.

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