A Dakota science educator speaks of the cultural context of the Afton Rattlesnake Mound
Email from James Rock to Corey Mathisen, MPCA, September 2, 2016
I realize that today is now the day after your “deadline” but let’s remember that the dead remain so in “living circles” according to our Indigenous,view…and deadlines are only for those temporary living colonizer-settlers who feel they must now disturb, bulldoze, and place their sewage near, on and around our relatives resting remains and spirits. They left us their HUNKAKAN ancestors, stories and sacred landscape features to point us to the stars and show us how to live here on Turtle Island as good relatives between Sky and Earth which are mirrors.
The River is the Milky Way and we Dakotas have a serpent constellation. This is not the appropriate time nor protocol for me to explain to outsiders how and why our star stories and these sites must remain to teach us. Recently, my wife and I have published a scholarly article on the rattlesnakes as represented in nearby upstream cave petroglyphs. Please inform yourself beyond the superficial “soil survey.” We know these sites exist and are part of a larger network of effigy mounds throughout the river valley system and represent our ancient cosmological origin stories.
Please feel free to contact us if you have the backbone to be a decent upstander for those who your DNA likely does not include…not meaning to be insulting but please recognize the insulting threat this sewage on a sacred site represents to us. My wife and I are university professors and are Indigenous consultants for the Bruce Vento Nature Sanctuary and Wakan Tipi cave and Indian Mounds Park which are all connected Dakota sites to the ones at the river’s “Bdote” at “Afton”
You must understand that your colonizer names and places can never know or understand our living presence here unless you care enough to learn and ask us. My name is Jim Rock and my wife is Dr. Roxanne Gould. Thank you for reading this if you can still recognize that deadlines are for the shortsighted living only. I have many books and resources to offer you some of which I have authored and others from my father and relative who represent 10,000 years of phenology right here.