Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Sad Destruction

 Keith from Mendon writes [I am adding some text at the bottom]:

Just want to send you a few pictures of Quissett Wildlife Management Area I know you once visited in Blackstone/Mendon. I just discovered this the other day while I was hiking. Apparently a huge chunk near the middle of Quissett is private property. They are clearing countless  acres for solar panels. I know there were many rock piles in this area. Find out people are using their landlocked property and selling to the solar companies. Obviously this is very counter productive to saving the planet by going solar and reducing CO emissions but destroying beautiful forests! Sad. This just ruins this wildlife area!

Keith also writes:
here's an article I found (that is a few years old) discussion about this site and ruining the forest. You know if more people ever knew about this, that clear cutting was going to happen, there would have been protests. Not only for the unknown ceremonial sites but the destruction of the beautiful woods for solar. But definitely documented native sites will stop development to some degree. I think they do this secretively as they know deep down it is wrong! Unfortunately this is happening ALOT!... I fear for many of the woods around here. I did a google satellite view and i can see many solar farms popping up in the middle of many woodlands. . .SAD.


Peter Waksman writes:
So , how's that secrecy working out?

By secrecy I mean the policy that wants to keep rock pile site locations a secret, known only to a few. The open policy alternative is a combination of public education, public sites, and active pressure applied to various industries (logging, construction) as well as conservation groups that think solar energy is more important than forest and history. Let me add to the list of "open" policies: active pressure applied to state lawmakers to enact new laws that protect stonework in the same way as we treat wetlands, here in MA: namely you are not supposed to impinge on a wetland without a special permit. 

By now, I cannot see any argument in favor of secrecy. The "few" who benefit from secrecy are an elite group of white researchers. Also some Native Americans take the position that sites that have been lost should remain lost - moldering back into the earth. But once the "few" learn about a site, it is not going to remain lost in any case. The risk of following this strategy is on full display above.

The benefits of open-ness are obvious - a precious resource from a Native American past is preserved - what might be called a "gift" -  is available for all to learn from. The risk of following this policy is a range of outcomes: from a little wear and tear to destruction. But in the latter case, the destruction will never scrape a site down to bare dirt. Common sense says that certain sites, eg effigies, are delicate and may need special treatment.

There is no point in writing a lot about this, except to suggest some obvious actions needed from the elite white community and the Native Tribes. I call on NEARA, I call on the Native Tribes, and I call on readers of this blog to sponsor a discussion with the logging industry, the conservation movement [if there is such an entity], and the state governments. Get off your asses and do something! 
I am trying to figure out how to penetrate the thick headedness of the Massachusetts historic preservation offices. I am told that MA is the only state whose historic officers refuse to accept the existence of sacred sites. Meanwhile I will just be a scold. If someone wants to start a new activist group, this blog will support you. For example: how about we stage a sit-in at the offices of the Massachusetts Historic Commission? We would need the clout of NEARA and of the tribes...anyone? I won't do it by myself. Maybe we could start preparing now, and do something after we've all been vaccinated. 

Finally, for reference, there are several large, well-preserved sites still safe and protected within the public Quisset conservation land (see Rock Piles: Search results for Quisset). 

(By the way, the pile in the photograph is probably a grave and probably could be protected through existing NAGPRA laws - as might be some of what was bulldozed. But how can NAGPRA be applied if no one wants to admit that these are burials? This is a different version of secrecy: keeping the true nature of these mounds a secret. Let me quote a NEARA Journal editor, who refused to publish my article about this: "the hypothesis [of burial] is the problem". (I'll get into this other fight later.)

Most of the major sites in MA are not safe. I am not at all sure about all the other wonderful sites in New England sitting on private land; where installing panels is now a quick buck for the needy and greedy who happen to own the place. 

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