Mendota Mdewakanton Dakota Tribal Community

“Preserving, Protecting and Promoting the Dakota Culture for Future Generations”

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Bruce White / EIS

Thank you for taking time to discuss the Bureau of Mines project in Hennepin County. Minnesota. The property covers 27 acres along a bluff above the Mississippi River and includes 11 buildings and the Coldwater Spring and Reservoir. . . . Although well-known as a site associated with Fort Selling’s history, the spring had not been recognized for any separate American Indian historic significance or associations until the late 1990s, when protests began over a nearby highway project. . . . The question I called you about concerned the difference between the evidence needed to determine a site eligible for the National Register as a TCP or as a site of “religious and cultural significance” to an American Indian tribe.–letter of a MNRRA official to an official of the National Register of Historic Places, Feb. 27, 2009, discussing the possible status of Coldwater Spring as a Traditional Cultural Property or TCP.

For several years now the National Park Service has expressed its categorical rejection of the finding of its own expert that Coldwater Spring, which flows out of the ground on the Bureau of Mines Twin Cities Campus property in Hennepin County, Minnesota, is a place of traditional cultural importance for the Dakota and other Native people. The Park Service in the 2006 draft EIS relating to the disposition of the property rejected TCP status for the property and the final EIS released in December 2009 does not change that. In the interim the Park Service had received a great deal of comment and new information which could have led to a change in the determination. But as stated in the final EIS involume 1, on page 23, there was little change (annotations added for greater clarity). . . .

Having categorically rejected the analysis that Coldwater Spring was a TCP, and asking the Dakota to provide documentary proof that it is, a Park Service official twists himself in knots over the idea that the site could be accepted as a “historic property of religious and cultural significance to an Indian tribe,” or, one might say a HPRCSIT, simply based on the assertion of that fact by an Indian tribe. But in the course of the analysis the author manages to convince himself out of that idea, springing back to the Park Service’s original position, that every claim of the importance of a place to Native people requires verification.

The letter is a sad demonstration of bureaucratic hair-splitting and untenable requests that Indian people prove the veracity of their cultural heritage.

More at www.MinnesotaHistory.net