Monday, March 27, 2017

Doug Harris's "Phone In" Talk

I didn't phone in but have a report that Doug discussed the protection of sites and how the tribes want to work with the towns. This is pretty much the message of the USET resolutions. 
Notes from Brian McClain:
- Starting in 2011, Doug was involved in some submerged landscape study/policy(?) with David Robinson - maybe a publication “Submerged Cultural Sites and Landscapes”?
- Doug has worked on setting policy (for 4 yrs?) for offshore projects (windmills, etc) on how to handle cultural artifacts in conjunction with the U of Rhode Island School of Oceanography?
-  Wants to work on the town level with landholders and - especially - Town Historical Commissions since they are the ones with the power to stop development on recognized sites.  (Thus maybe we should just by-pass the Conservation Commission, etc… since that fight is probably unnecessary).  
- local tribes have decided on a unified approach to protecting sites- i.e. no one tribe will claim a site as their own
-mention of the film “Great Falls” by Ted Timrek.  Can find at … might have to purchase…
- when talking about stone piles “prayers in stone”, mentioned Ezra Stiles writing in the 1700’s that an Indian friend would avoid those sites by 1/4 mile purposely to avoid the obligation to attend to it/them when passing. :)
- Otis State Park - 73 stone piles - development (pipeline?) would require removal of 1/3 of them.  Doug says the prayer is broken when the piles are disturbed.  
- The process of officially registering an Indian stone works as a religious site always requires at least one tribal specialist for evaluation.  Thus others can make the official ID, but they (we) can’t make the final decision without a tribal official as part of the process.
- Mentioned the fantastic effigies up in Carlisle
- Had good things to say about NEARA for the most part - they have kept focus on the ceremonial stone works - although sometimes stoneworks get ascribed to possible early European contact which annoys Doug…


pwax said...

Since noting that Stile's sketch did not match his text description (see comments to, I am thinking his authority may not be particularly valid.

Matt Howes said...

I phoned into the talk for the whole event. My notes are a bit different (different emphasis of subjects sparking interest.) I might sum it up on my blog sometime soon. I did not ask any questions at the end. Come to think of it, I do have a question that was not addressed. Comments are welcome.

Concerning a modern pile or structure. Do those get protection, such as a more modern prayer seat or "U" shaped enclosure at what is clearly a place of worship. I suppose it would be up to a rep. from a local federally recognized tribe to make that call. An example of what I am talking about:

After returning time and again to the Stone Chamber in the woods by Echo Lake by the Hopkinton/ Milford line, it is my conclusion that this is a more modern structure. Clearly 18th, 19th, or 20th century. However, the huge boulder the chamber goes into was probably regarded as a sacred rock since pre-colonial times, and there are older stone mounds nearby too. When I talked to a rep from NEARA about the stone chamber, it was dismissed as a modern structure. But wait a minute. That does not mean it is a "fake" or a "hoax." Probably somebody with Native ancestry practicing the old ways. Returning to a place of worship. In other words, such a structure in my opinion should be regarded as a holy place and protected as a part of the Ceremonial Stone Landscape. I know some other sites are like this too. What are other people's opinions on this?

Anyway, it was a good call-in, one of the first times in months that I actually used my old LG cell phone for more than a couple of minutes, lol.

Matt Howes said...

Peter, you have talked about this before I think. Yes. The 1960's. That was a big development boom in the whole area. Towns such as Ashland, Holliston, Hopkinton, Concord, etc. that are considered suburbs today were country-side before the 1960's. Whole neighborhoods, streets and houses were built in the late 50's, thru the 60's and into today. And then of course there is the commercial/ retail boom as well. Fortune Blvd. in Milford is a perfect example of that- yet even there, there is remnants of boulders on ledges that co-relate to the Ceremonial Stone Landscape, especially to the massive woods (Vietnam/ Rocky Woods, etc.) on the other side of the high-way corridor (built in the 1970's). The "Invisible Indian" people speak of was able to stay invisible without much worries until the development boom of the 1960's. You have talked about this by bringing up the pale buckets, you even have witness accounts from your Concord area.

Furthermore. Somebody like myself. I am not an enrolled tribal member anywhere. And "mixed up the yin-yang." On mother's side I have a Native ancestor from the Quebec area identified as Native from the early-mid 19th century. From that point it mixed out into the European lines. Similar background with my father's family from the mid-west. I have heard though that my great-grandfather's side of the family did experience bigotry/racism due to their Native heritage. My grandfather even involved himself with the American Indian Center in Chicago when he lived there.

I know that in the little "bedroom" community of Holliston, MA. that my family are not the only ones with any Native heritage at all. Look at the numbers on the Wikipedia page for the Nipmuc Nation as to their enrolled tribal members. Than it says that the suspected number of people with Nipmuc heritage is higher than what is listed of the enrolled tribal members. I am not one of these people (although I have been around the Nipmuc community before) but they do exist. I am pretty sure there is a family in town with Nipmuc heritage who never got on the bandwagon and joined back up with the larger entity of the Nipmuc Nation at Hassanamesit. They live near the town lines, which was wishy-washy up until the 20th century. Anthropologically speaking people do not usually take these things into account. I would say there is strong evidence of folk traditions at SOME sites until the development boom of the 1960's. I don't think it should be too out of line if even today some structures are going up. People still know how to pray- how to walk in prayer and how to work in prayer. Also, visit the site to assess what is going on. Had the ledge already been partially destroyed by late-19th- mid 20th century industrial quarrying industry? Is there an abundance of stone to use due to said quarry practices? And what about other stones carried on to the site? If a tree falls in the forest over a cairn and knocks stones around then leave it alone is one thing, if entire standing stones, walls and chambers get bulldozed and blasted out of existence is another thing yet.

pwax said...

Also heard there was a peculiar interruption where policemen showed up and tried to get Doug to stop. What was that about?

Matt Howes said...

Not sure, I didn't know about that. Twice I put the phone down: one for a break for a couple minutes, and once towards the end when people were asking questions but only because I accidentally hit the button on the phone (although I called back in immediately).

I am not surprised though if the law interrupted some things. CSL's is like a sleeping giant, given the wide distribution of sites pretty much everywhere; as Curtiss Hoffman said in his 2014 presentation on CSL's at the MAS at the Robbins Museum, CSL's is a controversial issue, due to political motivation more than anything else.

For instance, if the stone sites at the Hopping Brook development were correctly identified before plans for development even began (they had been eyeing that expansion to the site since the 1980's) the development could have been non-existent before it even began.

People are now beginning to take action. We need (collectively as a community, whether as Natives or researchers, or environmentalists) {this was one of Mr. Harris' messages too by the way} more awareness for rock pile/ stone mound/ standing stone/ etc. sites. I think what the Mass. Forest Rescue has done, by being aware, and now by being involved, in this issue is a wonderful thing. I am sure that there is big business interests who are starting to feel a bit fidgety about this whole thing- sites that "aren't supposed to exist anymore", sites that were supposed to be erased from history. But no. This is the heritage of this land, these sites are everywhere all over the place and need to be left alone from being destroyed or harmed.

Linda Goodman said...

Is there an agenda to give control of private land to Native American tribes or am I misunderstanding?

Linda Goodman said...
United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples – U.S.
Victoria Tauli-Corpuz
End of Mission Statement
3 March 2017

In my capacity as United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, I carried out a visit to the United States of America from 22 February to 3 March 2017 to study the human rights situation of indigenous peoples, in particular with regard to energy development projects, and to follow up on key recommendations made by my predecessor, James Anaya, in both his 2012 report on the situation of indigenous peoples in the United States (1) and his 2013 report on indigenous peoples and extractive industries.(2)

I learned from my visit that working closely with Tribal Historic Preservation Officers (THPOs) is a best practice to protect tribal cultural material. THPOs hold unique expertise and knowledge about the tribal lands, territories, and resources. Not only are they intimately familiar with the state and federal permitting and regulatory processes but, as one tribal THPO said, “our oral stories, star knowledge, and cultural history are what help me to evaluate what’s on the ground to know what not to disturb.” Tribal member employees have a connection to the lands that cannot be undervalued and must be leveraged to best protect and respect tribal lands. Tribal THPOs should thus have the ability to provide input on projects taking place on tribal territories outside of reservation boundaries given their deep knowledge of history and culture.

The United States should take appropriate measures to ensure the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights are properly considered by all accountable actors in any projects that have impacts on indigenous peoples in the United States.