Friday, December 13, 2013

The Beat Goes On
Town Committee Revises Draft 
Native American Burial Ground Ordinance

The efforts to permanently protect the Ancestors at White Ash Swamp continue as deliberations on a draft Native American Burial Ground Ordinance appear to be headed toward a possible vote by the Greenfield Town Council on January 15, 2014.  

Although the draft was originally passed at the November 4 meeting of the Appointments and Ordinance Committee, concerns raised and a change in committee leadership led to a revision in the draft ordinance.  According to Councilor Marian Kelner that revision is expected to be voted on and passed by the committee on its January 13 meeting, and taken up two days later by the entire town council.

Although passage seems likely at this point, there is no guarantee.  Nolumbeka Project asks for your continued support.  Each telephone call to a town official, each letter to the editor, each personal appearance at a town meeting makes a difference.  It is possible that decades of effort may come to fruition with the new year.  

The Tragic Tale of White Ash Swamp

In the Spring and Summer of 1964, amateur archeologist George Nelson was astonished.
Originally given permission by Peter Mackin to search for Native American artifacts in Mackin's sand and gravel pit in Greenfield MA, Nelson could not have imagined what he would discover.

During the course of several months, Nelson saw the unearthing of what appeared to be Native American burials during the daily excavations for sand and gravel.  He then witnessed human skulls and skeletal remains being bulldozed into the swampy ground of White Ash Swamp across the road.  In a gruesome tale cited in Nelson's affidavit below, Native American remains were being unceremoniously dumped daily in a swamp in the project to widen Highway 2.

This began decades of effort to protect and preserve the last remaining undeveloped piece of Wissatinnewag, the ancient Native American village that spanned both sides of the Connecticut River at the Great Falls. Through the leadership of Monique Fordham and Howard Clark and the hard work of many dedicated volunteers, Friends of Wissatinnewag, a non-profit founded to purchase the land, successfully acquired 61 acres of the Mackin Property in 2001.

But now, a dozen years later, the work continues.

With Wissatinnewag now under our stewardship, Nolumbeka Project is seeking to permanently protect the remains of the Ancestors at White Ash Swamp.  In October, 2013, Nolumbeka Project Senior Researcher/Archeologist Howard Clark approached the Town of Greenfield Appointments and Ordinance Committee.  His efforts led to the passing of a draft ordinance protecting Native American burials and re-burials by the committee on November 4 with the recommendation of its passage by the Town Council.  

But, at this point, there is no guarantee.  

Originally slated to be discussed and voted on in the November 20 town council meeting, public deliberations were postponed -- and the controversy continues.  (See Nolumbeka Now, November 15).  Nolumbeka Project has now incurred significant legal expense in our efforts.   We seek the support of those interested in this attempt to prevent further desecration of the re-burials at White Ash Swamp.

Read Nelson's chilling account in his own words in the affidavit  below:

George Nelson's Affidavit: