This is a follow-up to my previous post about the deliberate destruction by the oil company constructing the North Dakota Access Pipeline, of the ancient burials in the area, which were to form part of the Standing Rock Sioux people’s case against the pipeline’s construction. Jan Hasselman, the lawyer representing the tribe, had arranged for archaeologists to survey the site, and they duly deposited their evidence to the court hearing their complaint. The very next day, the company moved the bulldozers in to destroy the site.
It’s appalling and outrageous when anyone’s burials are disturbed. It is even more so in this case, when it is the gratuitous action of a powerful, multibillion dollar company against an impoverished community, which has suffered centuries of brutality and injustice. Native American archaeology is rare, and there have been numerous attempts in the past to destroy the Native people’s culture, if not the indigenous people’s themselves. This is yet another of them.
Many people are interested in America and Canada’s First Nations and their past. A little while ago I found an excellent book on the archaeology of the American First Nations. This is Exploring Ancient Native America: An Archaeological Guide, by David Hurst Thomas (New York: Routledge 1994).
This is a comprehensive guide to Native American and Canadian archaeology from the settlement of the Continent by tribes crossing the Behring Strait to the Contact period. It has the following chapters:
The Global Prologue;
The First Americans;
Spreading Out Across America;
Agricultural Imperatives in the American Southwest;
Harvesting the Eastern Woodlands;
Colliding Worlds: Old and New?
Epilogue: An Enduring Encounter.
It’s profusely illustrated, with some truly awesome and beautiful photos and drawings of the impressive monuments constructed by Native Americans, from the Pueblo villages and towns of the southwest, to the mounds made in the form of animals, like the Serpent Mound, of the Mississippi cultures, as well as smaller artifacts like pottery, tools, arrow- and spearheads and carvings.
There is are also passages giving the Native American perspective on the monuments and their significance to them. The book also includes a list of recommended museums on Native American archaeology, many of which are naturally run by the indigenous peoples themselves. It also gives advice on appropriate behaviour when visiting Native American communities.
The two museums mentioned by the book for Native American archaeology in North Dakota are the Four Bears Museum at New Town, North Dakota, and the Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site at Stanton, North Dakota. The Four Bears Museum is an Indian-operated institution, and is dedicated to the archaeology of the Three Affiliated Tribes, the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara. The book gives the tribe’s headquarters as south east of Minot on SR 23. It’s local three miles north on CR 37. It also has a visitor centre.
The book also has this illustration by Gilbert Wilson of the structure of a Mandan earth lodge. This was the particular lodge of Small-ankle, the father of Buffalo-bird-woman, as described by her.
The tribe, whose land is being desecrated by the oil company, is the Standing Rock Sioux people. I don’t think they have a museum, which is why the oil company was able to destroy their archaeological heritage. This makes it all the more important that their cultural remains should be preserved quickly.
Indian America: A Traveler’s Companion, by Eagle/Walking Turtle (Santa Fe: John Muir Publication 1995) gives the location of the Standing Rock Sioux reservation at Port Yates, North Dakota 58538. It’s in south-central North Dakota and north-central South Dakota, directly south of Bismarck, North Dakota. The tribes placed on this site in 1908 were the Blackfoot (Sihasapa), Hunkpapa and the Lower and Upper Yanktonai Sioux. The tribe holds its annual pow-wow at Little Eagle, South Dakota.
Tags: 'Exploring Ancient Native America: An Archaeological Guide', 'Indian America: A Traveler's Companion, Arikara, Bismarck (town), Blackfoot, Buffalo-Bird-Woman, David Hurst, Eagle/Walking Turtle, Earth Lodge, Four Bears Museum, Gilbert Wilson, Hidatsa, Hunkpapa, Jan Hasselman, Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site, Little Eagle, Mandan, Minot, Mississippi Cultures, Museums, New Town, North Dakota, North Dakota Pipeline, Port Yates, Pueblo Indians, Serpent Mound, Sious, Small-ankle, South Dakota, Standing Rock Sioux, Stanton, Yanktonai Sious