Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Survey Report Says Nothing To See Here

Leslie Nielsen's "Lt. Frank Drebin" from the 1988 comedy classic, "The Naked Gun." In this scene, Drebin tells people, "Move along. There's nothing to see here. Please disperse."
Survey Report Doesn't Say Much
"Move Along. There's Nothing To See Here."
By Dakota Wind 
Bismarck, N.D. (TFS) - Last November I submitted letters and copies of bibliographical information and primary resource documents to several agencies regarding the Class III survey report submitted to the North Dakota State Historic Preservation Office in January 2016. 

The contrast of information excluded from the report is far greater than what the report actually contains. The report minimizes the cultural, historical, and military occupations of a significant landmark on the Missouri River: the Cannonball River. 

Here are one dozen distinct events (a detailed explanation and complete bibliography can found in at "Remembering A River:" 

The Big River Village, a Huff phase Mandan Indian occupation as early as 1400 C.E. The site that has been disturbed by the drill pad on the north bank of the Cannonball River is known to the Mandan as "Big River Village," and to the State Historical Society of North Dakota as the "North Cannonball Village." 

The 1762-1763 Sičháŋǧu (Burnt Thigh; Brulé) and Cheyenne Fight, an inter-tribal conflict in which the Cheyenne retaliated and set fire to the prairie which caught and burned their enemy giving them the designation Sičháŋǧu. 

English explorer John Evans, who mapped the Missouri River from St. Louis to Knife River in 1796, includes the Cannonball River as the "Bomb River," in reference to the cannonballs.

The inter-tribal between the Mandan, Hidatsa, Húŋkpapȟa and Iháŋktȟuŋwaŋna that began at the mouth of the Cannonball River concluded at the mouth of the Heart River in 1803. 

The Corps of Discovery Expedition remarked on the "La Bullet" River and took a cannonball concretion, Oct. 18, 1804. 

Botanist John Bradbury collected flax from the Cannonball River in 1811. A significant difference in the flax samples necessitated a second trip to the Cannonball River in 1819 for additional collection. 

War of 1812 tensions resulted in conflict on the Missouri River between the Arikara, Cheyenne, and the American Fur Company. There was a conflict at the mouth of the Cannonball River in 1812. 

A devasting flood in 1825 on the Missouri River floodplain resulted in the drowning deaths of over one hundred Iháŋktȟuŋwaŋna men, women, elders, and children, and several hundred of their horses. All were buried on a hill across the river from the north bank Big River Village. This hill is sometimes submerged in Lake Oáhe, and is now located roughly halfway across the span of the present lake. 

Prince Maximillian von Wied-Neuwied spent probably the most time at the Cannonball River, describing what he saw, more than any other explorer or trader to date, and noted significant geological findings there in 1833. 

In 1837, the Húŋkpapȟa camp was struck by an epidemic of smallpox there on the flood plain, the west side of the Missouri River, at the Cannonball River confluence. 

After constructing Fort Rice in the summer of 1864, Gen. Alfred Sully began his punitive campaign against the "Sioux" at the mouth of the Cannonball River, July 29, 1864. 

The historic Cannonball Ranch, established at the same time as Fort Rice, was instrumental in developing the ranching traditions and western lifestyle on the Northern Great Plains. This historic ranch was inducted into the ND Cowboy Hall of Fame in 1999.

None of this is mentioned in the Class III survey report. Reports are supposed to be exhaustive: "An intensive inventory is a systematic, detailed field inspection done by, or under the direction of professional architectural historians, historians, archeologists, and/or other appropriate specialists." 

The ND SHPO has updated their Cultural Resources Identification, Recording and Evaluation page to reflect their process. "A location of five or fewer artifacts and identified by the archaeologist(s) as representing an area of very limited past activity may be recorded as an isolated find." The Class III Survey Report submitted by Energy Transfer flags over forty artifacts recorded by the survey team in the mouth of the Cannonball area alone.

ND SHPO continues: 
A location of five or fewer artifacts and identified by the archaeologist(s) as representing an area of very limited past activity may be recorded as an isolated find. The map detailing the Dakota Access Pipeline's route where the pipeline is to cross under Lake Oáhe flags fifty artifacts on both sides of the river. I can not publish an image of the map because it may result in "disturbance of the resource."

Site leads refer to resources that lack sufficient information to fully record and complete all necessary data fields on the North Dakota Cultural Resources Survey (NDCRS) site forms. Examples of site leads include: (1) locations recorded from various historic documents, (2) locations reported by a landowner or other non-professional, (3) a location with five or fewer surface visible artifacts which, in the professional judgment of the archaeologist(s), is likely to be a limited surface expression of a former occupation area where most of the artifacts are still buried, and/or (4) locations recorded by a cultural resource specialist outside of their project area(s), and thus not fully recorded. Clearly the Cannonball River is more than a "site lead," with over a dozen native and non-native primary resource documents, and at least two Ph.D.'s who've written about the Cannonball in their works, one a world-renowned archaeologist, and the other won a Pulitzer Prize in 2016 about the Mandan and their earliest record of that historic nation at the Cannonball River. 

These two Ph.D's have found enough material, physical and historical, and most importantly, significant, enough to include data and construct narrative about the Cannonball River Village sites. It's for the ND SHPO to say, "Move along. There's nothing to see here. Please disperse." 

The preliminary evaluation of all cultural resources identified within the study area should be made in sufficient detail to provide an understanding of the historical values that they represent...Only the lead agency and North Dakota State Historic Preservation Office, through consultation, can provide a final determination of eligibility (DOE) on cultural resources in North Dakota. 

The class III survey report has raised no flags. The events mentioned above can be found in various resources at the ND State Archives, ND State Library, the Stanley Ahler collection at the ND SHPO, on the ND Studies website, and as books for sale at the ND Heritage Center and State Museum Gift Store. 




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