Friday, November 15, 2013

Nolumbeka Project's Effort to Protect White Ash Swamp Intensifies

 “Lets lose the fear over this conversation and embrace 
a future where all are welcomed and respected.”
---Joe Graveline, President, Nolumbeka Project 

At the Greenfield Town Council meeting on November 20, Nolumbeka Project continues its effort to permanently protect the 10 acres of White Ash Swamp.  This site, where remains of Native American residents of the ancient village of Wissatinnewag were dumped in 1964, is currently suggested for a conservation restriction supervised by the Town of Greenfield, but this protection would not be adequate -- or permanent.

In October, hoping for improved protections, Nolumbeka Project's Clerk and Senior Researcher/Anthropologist Howard Clark approached Greenfield's Appointments and Ordinances Committee with documents tracing the history of the issue.

In what Clark characterized as "a good start", a majority of the Committee voted November 4 to recommend passage of a draft ordinance that asserts that such re-burial sites in Greenfield would receive all "treatments and protections" as accorded to Native American burial sites under state and federal law.  Clark hopes that Greenfield’s effort may even lead the way in strengthening relevant Massachusetts law.

Although Greenfield mayor William Martin has said that the ordinance could impede desired development and implied that it might be used to “stall or kill” the arrival of a big box store adjacent to the White Ash Swamp, Clark and Nolumbeka President Joe Graveline maintain otherwise.    

Graveline says, “I have worked on many very large projects over the years as a tribal field monitor during and beyond the archaeological phases of those projects, and I can report…that multi-million-dollar projects and respect for tribal cultural resources and spiritual beliefs can happen all at the same time.”  (See “My Turn” in Greenfield Recorder.)

Nolumbeka Project hopes to continue this important effort at the November 20 meeting of the Greenfield Town Council at 7 p.m. at GCTV, 393 Main Street, 3rd floor.  Your attendance and support will be appreciated.

For those interested in learning more, Howard Clark has assembled a wealth of information which is now available to the public at the Greenfield Public Library.  He also traced the recent history of the controversy surrounding the protection of the property in the Greenfield Recorder. (See My Turn: "Too Many Broken Promises", November 20)

Please contact Nolumbeka Project with any questions and comments.