Thursday, January 23, 2014

Victory in Montague, Concerns Raised in Greenfield

Victory in Montague as Board of Selectman Supports Battlefield Grant Proposal!

After having been unilaterally removed--without explanation --from the agenda by Chairperson Mark Fairbrother the previous week, a widespread show of public support brought the application for a National Park Service Battlefield Grant back to the table for a successful conclusion at the January 13 meeting of Montague Board of Selectman.  In a 2-1 vote, the Town of Montague supported  moving forward with the application efforts coordinated by Nolumbeka Project board member David Brule.

If this grant is approved it will fund a detailed study of the events surrounding May 19, 1676, the night that a colonial militia led by Captain William Turner wiped out a camp of Native American non-combatants, mostly women, children and the elderly near the Great Falls.   As well as examining documentary records and archeological collections and using miltary terrain analysis to determine the sites of villages, battlefields, approaches and escape routes, the study will also include gathering the complete and unfiltered account of events from each Native American tribe in the region.

"History has always been written by the conquerors," points out Nolumbeka Project Senior Researcher Howard Clark.  "This will be the first time that a serious effort will be made to include the tribal perspective on these events."  This is crucial to developing a clearer and and less distorted account of our shared history.

The grant proposal also envisions the creation of a phased plan to protect the battlefield.  A decision by the National Park Service is expected in several months.

Native American Burial Ordinance On Hold after Meeting with Mayor

Even though a draft ordinance that could offer protection to the Ancestors at White Ash Swamp had been passed by Greenfield's Appointments and Ordinances Committee with its recommendation for passage by the entire Town Council, it appears that another approach has been proposed.   At a January 14 meeting attended by Mayor William Martin, Town Council President Mark Wisnewski, A&O Committee Chair David Singer, Narragansett Deputy Tribal Preservation Officer Doug Harris, and Nolumbeka Project's Joe Graveline and Howard Clark, a decision was made to create a Cemetary Commission charged with the protection of both Native American and abandoned colonial burial sites.

Although willing to see what this may look like, Graveline expressed concern.  "We are not going to let the protection of White Ash Swamp slip away here, " he said, claiming that the Nolumbeka Project must see some tangible action toward establishing the commission and clarifying its charge -- soon.  If not, he promised that Nolumbeka Project will re-double its efforts to have the original ordinance passed by the Town Council.

"Spring is coming.  We are running out of time." said Graveline. 

Please stay tuned for updates on this issue at Nolumbeka Now! (You can subscribe for email updates) 

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