Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Time To Survey The Killdeer Conflict Site

A map of General Sully's movements as he advanced and then fired on the Yanktonai Dakota and Hunkpapa Lakota at the Killdeer Mountain conflict site.
Time To Survey Killdeer Mountain
Civil War Battle Site In North Dakota
By Dakota Wind
BISMARCK, N.D. - I received the following from Ms. Connie Triplett, ND State Senator, District 18, Grand Forks, N.D.:

SB 2341 proposes to appropriate $250,000 to do an archaeological survey within the Killdeer Mountain battlefield study area. I am one of the co-sponsors of this bill. I am looking for people who may be willing and able to testify on the bill.

The bill will come up for hearing on Thursday, February 7, 2013 at 2:00 p.m. before the Senate Government & Veteran's Affairs Committee in the Missouri River Room.

"The 8th Minn Infantry Mounted in the Battle of Ta Ha Kouty" by Carl Ludwig Boeckmann

I have two reasons for supporting this bill. First, the State is intending to celebrate its 125th anniversary in 2014. That year is also the 150th anniversary of the incident on Killdeer Mountain (battle or massacre, depending on one's perspective). It seems to me that the State has an obligation to understand what happened there, as much as can be ascertained at this late date, and to make an effort to join with the affected tribes in commemorate the incident before it celebrates statehood yet again. I think it's important that people understand how the land we now call North Dakota came to be available for settlement and to acknowledge that it involved displacing others who had called the area home for a long time. I believe that knowledge and acknowledgment can bring understanding and healing.

About fifty North Dakota citizens, native and non-native, showed up for the public hearing held by the ND Industrial Commission in January.

The second reason for supporting an archaeological study at this point in time is the imminent encroachment of oil development within the study area. There are already a number of wells on Killdeer Mountain and another has recently been sited on the edge of the study area defined by an earlier American Battlefield Protection study.

Whether the study proposed by this bill actually happens will depend in large part on the willingness of private landowners to allow archaeologists on their land, of course. I am hoping that at least some of them may be more willing to have this study completed now than they might have been in the past because of their own concerns about the encroachment of oil development. (Rob, please forward this email to other landowners on the mountain, especially those within the defined study area.)

From the south looking north to one part of Killdeer Mountain, compare to Carl Ludwig Boeckman's painting of Sully's advance above. Boeckman stayed remarkably true to the landscape.

In a recent ND Industrial Commission hearing, Gov. Dalrymple said it would be nice if there was some way that the members of the Industrial Commission could know in advance where the sensitive areas are. This bill would provide that information, at least for this one historically significant area (and it's good wildlife habitat, too!)

I understand that there may be hesitation on the part of tribal members to be supportive of this initiative for fear of disrupting tribal burial sites or other sacred sites. It is my hope that this work, if approved by the legislature, will be done in a manner that is sensitive to those concerns. Your presence at the hearing can help to define or limit the study as appropriate.

Medicine Hole is at the top of the eastern half of the Killdeer Mountain plateau. Women and children made a mad scramble up the plateau to escape artillery rounds.

I also know that Tom Isern has an application pending with the American Battlefield Protection Program to better define the exterior boundaries of the area. It is my hope that the work supported by this bill would be done in close concert with Tom's work, if his grant applicaton is approved.

I would respectfully request that everyone who receives this email forward it promptly to others who may be interested in attending the hearing. If you know for sure that you will be able to attend, please let me know. 

Thank you.

Connie Triplett
ND State Senator
District 18, Grand Forks

1 comment:

  1. Dakotah and Connie, thank you so much for all you are doing. The time has certainly come for further preservation and protection of the important cultural, historical and archaeological sites in North Dakota. When we lose our heritage, I believe we lose an important part of our identity, we have been given an opportunity to preserve both.