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Mendota Mdewakanton Dakota Tribal Community

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Mendota Mdewakanton Newsletter

Protesting this sacred mound. Mendota is mention on Nov 10 2004 on page 3

When the Mendota heard about the mound we went there put up a teepee and started to protest. Our ancestors should be left in there final resting place.

How would you like someone digging up your family? And putting them some where esle. keeping you from them?

Mike Scott then was our Tribal Chair, Jim Anderson Culture Person, Bevery Scott Secretary and Sharons Lennartson older sister. Sharon Lennartson was the  administrator then, now Tribal Chair. Susu, Bear, uncle Louie, Tiffany other people were too.

Here is the article below, I have been trying to fine for a while now. Love Sharon


Protecting Large Indian Cemeteries 1/3 a forum for discussing current events relating to the history of Minnesota
-November 10, 2004-
Protecting Large Indian Cemeteries:
A View from the Minnesota River Valley
Larry Granger
In the current controversy about the threat to burial mounds in Bloomington, Minnesota, one thing is clear: The
situation is aggravated by the murkiness of current law relating to burial sites. More clarity and transparency in
relevant laws is needed, not only for the sake of local governments, developers, and members of the public, but
also for those who lie at rest in these cemeteries.
Bloomington Minnesota is a bluff-top community bordering the Minnesota River as well as a modern day
�Edge City��in the words of urban planners�with major developments and ongoing redevelopment
along freeways 494 and 35W. It is the home of the Mall of America and soon-to-be major development in the
adjacent Airport South development district. A high level of integrated office, retail, and housing construction
has the potential over the next twenty years to create a �third downtown� of the Twin Cities metropolitan
area. As this development proceeds eastward in the land between 494 and the river bluffs, burial mounds from
the Woodland and Dakota cultures which have been documented for over one hundred years have will be
encountered during construction. This is the case with Lincoln Mound 2 near the junction of 34th Ave. and Old
Shakopee Road.
The City of Bloomington has long been respectful of such burials, many of which have been protected on
residential and public lands. In the past a City Historic and Natural Resources Commission and previously a City
Heritage Preservation Commission would review all requests for archeological excavations. Neither commission
currently exists and approval of excavation permits has become solely the duty of City administration.
Mound protection has many challenges in the area east of the Mall of America because the land south of the
Twin Cities International Airport, between Highway 494 and the Minnesota River, narrows as it appropaches the
freeway interchange near Fort Snelling State Park. All available property is therefore deemed critical for
development, and encounters with bluff-top burial mounds have been inevitable.
For the past several years the City of Bloomington has worked closely with the Minnesota Indian Affairs
Council in following state law (MS 307.08) in the treatment of burial remains discovered during excavation for
building projects. This relationship appears to have followed the �letter of the law� with one possible
exception which has caused controversy during the excavation of the Lincoln Mound 2 on 34th Ave.
Section 8 of MS 307.08 provides for acquisition and protection of large Indian cemeteries. However, the statute
is silent on who determines what constitutes a large Indian cemetery and what unit of state government is to
acquire and protect such cemeteries. The impact of this statutory silence is that whenever multiple burial mounds
are discovered, uncertainty about the appropriate manner of treating such burials can occur and a subsequent
reluctance by the Indian Affairs Council and others to provide much information about the nature of the
discovery. For those who care about the issue of Indian cemeteries being protected, straightforward information
is hard to obtain, so rumors float, conspiracy theories arise, and relationships among various Native Americans
become strained. This situation can be seen as disrespectful to those whose remains are found, much as when
relatives of a deceased person bicker over the provisions of a will.
The intent of the 1979 Minnesota Legislature in passing MS 307.08 is hard to fully evaluate at this time without
a full investigation of the original bill�s progress through the legislative process. The bill did provide a much
1/4/24, 1:42 PM Protecting Large Indian Cemeteries 2/3
needed process in dealing with discovery of human remains on a small or large scale. The legislation drafter and
legislative advocate for the bill Alan Woolworth of the Minnesota Historical Society when asked on October 11,
2004 about he would consider a �large Indian cemetery� under subdivision 8 of MS 307.08 commented that
he would consider it to be �a number over six or maybe ten burials.� A full investigation of the 1979
passage of this act, possibly utilizing the resources of the Legislative Reference Library and interviews with
former legislators may or may not shed additional light on legislative intent for this section.
Insofar as information is available, the Minnesota Indian Affairs Council has not addressed this issue in a formal
policy but rather dealt with it on a case-by-case basis. A 2001 Minnesota Legislative Auditor�s Report called
for a re-examination of the workings of MS 307.08 but nothing has apparently happened on that
recommendation to date.
The fact that state officials have failed to address these issues may cause further problems in the near future.
Expansion of the Twin City Metropolitan Area southward up the Minnesota River Valley in the development of
bluff-top communities and subdivisions in Scott, Sibley, LeSueur, Nicollet, Brown, and Blue Earth counties will
likely encounter other Native American burials. Of course this is not the first time one culture has located in the
former home of a previous culture in the Minnesota River Valley. Over 12,000 years the Paleoindian culture was
succeeded by at least two or three other cultures before the Dakota Indians in the middle of the 1600s replaced
the Oneota and Iowa tribes. But we have no record from recorded history of how succeeding cultures viewed the
burial sites of previous peoples.
This land-use planning issue has clear legal and spiritual implications. In August 2004, Michael Scott, chair of
the Mendota Mdewakanton Dakota Community and the community’s Cultural Affairs Chairperson presented the
issue to students at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs in hopes that a team of students would undertake a
review of this issue as part of their capstone project for completion of their Master’s degree in Public Affairs. No
student volunteers came forward at this time but the issue will be presented again to students in spring semester
of 2005.
The lack of information available from the state Minnesota Indian Affairs Council about the excavation details
and future of Lincoln Mound 2 led James Anderson of the Mendota Mdewakanton Dakota Community to
address the Bloomington City Council on September 13 to request that they respond to the question of protecting
a large Indian Cemetery that was apparently being uncovered in Lincoln Mound 2, whether the Minnesota Indian
Affairs Council chose to do so or not. No action was taken on this request.
A local organization with an interest in preserving burial mounds, the Bloomington Historical Society (a fortyyear-old 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization) became aware of these issues during the summer of 2004, because
of a peaceful protest and encampment along Old Shakopee Road near the burial excavation site organized by the
Mendota Mdewakanton Dakota Community and social-justice advocates from the Twin City area. The Society
recognized that the issues involved in burial excavation conflicts needed to be resolved on a statewide basis, and
passed a resolution at its October 12, 2004, Board of Directors meeting calling for its legislative delegation to
join with other legislators in examining this issue during the upcoming 2005-06 Legislative sessions. Such a
review may confirm or modify the process called for in MS 307.08�legislation which has not been reviewed
for a twenty-five years�but in any case, it is hoped that it will bring some open civil discussion to this issue.
Larry Granger is Executive Director of the Joseph R. Brown Minnesota River Center in Henderson,
Minnesota, which interprets the environmental and cultural stories of the Minnesota River Valley, and is a
former president of the Bloomington Historical Society.
A Resolution in Favor of a Legislative Re-examination of the Private Cemeteries Act of Minnesota (MS
307.08) as it affects Native Americans
1/4/24, 1:42 PM Protecting Large Indian Cemeteries 3/3
WHEREAS the growth and expansion of the Twin City Metropolitan Area and numerous Regional centers in the
state brings development projects into conflict with the preservation of the burial remains of Native American
people, and
WHEREAS current state law MS 307.08 provides for a process under which small numbers of unearthed
remains can be relocated with permission of the State Archeologist, Indian Affairs Council and representatives of
a federally recognized American Indian tribes, and
WHEREAS section 8 of MS 307.08 provides for state protection of large Indian ceremonies without providing a
definition of large cemetery, and
WHEREAS archeology studies of the 19th Century provided historic documentation of many burial mound
locations which are not protected during development, and
WHEREAS the spiritual leaders of American Indian tribes in Minnesota are not included in the decision making
regarding the unearthing of Native America remains.
NOW THEREFORE in order to resolve these conflicts relative to the Cemeteries Act of Minnesota (M307.08),
be it resolved by the Board of Directors of the Bloomington Historical Society, that state legislative Senators and
Representatives elected to represent Bloomington be requested to cooperate with legislative colleagues in
conducting hearings during the 2005 Legislative Session on MS 307.08 for purposes of clarifying and improving
this act. This re-examination should consider providing a definition of large Indian cemeteries in section 8,
providing protection for historically documented Indian burial mounds and expanding or reorganizing the
current process for determining the disposition of Native American burial remains by inclusion of spiritual
leaders of Minnesota Indian tribes in this process.
ADOPTED the 12th day of October, 2004 by an affirmative vote of the Board of Directors of the Bloomington
Historical Society.
Vonda Kelly, Executive Director & President, Bloomington Historical Society
Distributed to Representatives Lenczewski, Larson, and Senators Ranum, Michel, and Belanger