A representative of the Ho-Chunk Nation calls for a halt to all construction efforts on the Afton wastewater treatment project
Letter from Robert V. TwoBears, Ho-Chunk Nation District 5 Representative, Black River Falls, WI, August 31, 2016, to MPCA
On December 31, 2015, I caused a letter to be sent on behalf of the Rattlesnake Effigy Mound in St. Croix Valley, Afton Minnesota. The City of Afton applied for a permit with the MPCA for construction on a wastewater treatment plant on the location of the Rattlesnake Effigy Mound.
The National Historic Preservation Act (“NHPA”) provides legislative mandates for environmental review and consultation requirements, and demands that planners of a federally supported project take into account its effect on any area eligible for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places. 16 U.S.C. S. § 470f; 16 U.S.C.S. § 470a (a). The NHPA provides that planners shall consult with any Indian tribe that attaches religious and cultural importance to an eligible affected area. 16 U.S.C.S. § 470a (d)(6)(B). Consulting tribes are entitled to a reasonable opportunity to identify concerns about historic properties, advise on the identification and evaluation of historic properties, including those of traditional religious and cultural importance, articulate views on the undertaking’s effects on them, and participate in resolving those effects. §§ 800.3-800.7.
On May 20th 2016, the MCPA met with Tribal representatives in the Minnesota area for a Tribal Consultation. During this consultation, a concern was expressed regarding mammal bones found on the site of the Rattlesnake Effigy Mound. A follow-up study was promised to determine if the mammal bones were human. As an interested Tribal party, I am writing to request that all construction efforts halt until the promised study has been conducted. Pursuant to 36 C.F.R § 800.4(d)(1), and via this communication, an objection is now being presented in the allotted 30-day time period.
Until evidence has been presented to rebut the existence of human remains on the site of the Rattlesnake Effigy Mound, the project cannot move forward, as doing so would irreparably damage the historical and cultural integrity of the Rattlesnake Effigy Mound under the NHPA and the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (“NAGPRA”). Any movement forward without a final study, discounts credible evidence of human remains on-site of the Rattlesnake Effigy Mound, evidence that is known to the MCPA. Please contact me, or Legislative Attorney Gennafer Garvin, at the Ho-Chunk Nation Legislative office for further guidance.
Best regards, Robert V. TwoBears, Ho-Chunk Nation District 5 Representative (715) 299-0649