Human remains found at proposed Wisconsin golf course site – The Daily Reporter – WI Construction News & Bids – Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Milwaukee, Wisconsin 2021-05-29 07:27:12 –

Check out a map created by Roger Miller, an environmental engineer who chairs the town of the Wilson Planning Commission. Bell Ruggins (left) and Eric Seren (left) living near the Sheboygan golf course proposed by Kohler on April 27. ) And Erik Thelen maps overlay the project with current lake water levels and show some planned underwater features due to erosion and fluctuating water levels along the shoreline of Lake Michigan. .. (Dee J. Hall / Wisconsin Watch via AP)

Jim Malewitz
Wisconsin watch

Archaeologists have unearthed the bodies of Native Americans who lived up to 2500 years ago, and unearthed the ruins of Sheboygan County along Lake Michigan, where Kohler envisions a golf course.

According to a recently obtained document from the University of Wisconsin, the University of Wisconsin and Milwaukee teams are planning at least under private wetlands and forests where Caller plans a third championship facility in Wisconsin in 2018 and 2019. I happened to encounter human bone and tooth debris in seven places. to see. The turmoil occurred during the investigation required under Federal History Preservation Act, recovering tens of thousands of ceramics, tools and other artifacts on 247 acres of land.

According to Jennifer Haas, director of the Milwaukee Archaeological Institute at the University of Wisconsin, most of the human bodies and artifacts are from Native Americans of the Woodland era, who lived between 500 BC and 1200 AD. The team did not encounter a definable grave that could impose additional development restrictions under the State Burial Protection Act.

Archaeologists did not investigate multiple Native American burial mounds on Kohler’s property across the boundaries of the proposed golf course, Haas said. With 36,000 employees, the company is not only known for its plumbing fixtures, but also manages resort and golf destinations, but pledges to protect the mound and provide public access. ..

According to Haas, her team worked closely with state officials and members of the relevant tribes to ensure compliance with laws and protocols.

“As you can imagine, the cultural sensitivity surrounding the discovery of bodies in the field is very high,” she said in an email.

Bill Quackenbush, History Preservation Officer at Ho-Chunk Nation, is one of the tribal representatives overseeing archaeological projects. He states that state and federal law does not prohibit development under such circumstances. Still he is anxious.

“Tribes are always hesitant to talk about the ugly side of having to deal with ancestors being dug up like commodities,” Quackenbush said.

“We respect the natural nature of the facility and are committed to creating a world-class golf course that opens up private land to the public for the first time,” said Dirk Willis, vice president of golf, landscape and retail at Kohler Hospitality. Told.

“Our public golf course will be an asset in our area,” he said in a statement. “Archaeological studies at this site represent an important historical opportunity to publicly educate those who came before us and the rich history of the state, which may have remained unknown. I will. “

However, fluctuating water levels and winds on Lake Michigan have eroded important parts of the site, delaying construction due to pending proceedings.

The grassroots group Friends of the Black River Forest is challenging approval under former Governor Scott Walker. They included a permit from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to fill 1.5 acres of rare wetlands and a contract to exchange 6.5 acres of Kohler-Andree State Park in Wisconsin for 9.5 acres of Kohler land and homes and some storage facilities. is included.

Archaeological studies, on the other hand, present the challenge of balancing Wisconsin’s cultural sensitivities, historical protection, and property rights. In Wisconsin, most of the more than 2,600 known Native American burial mounds and more than 9,000 known burial sites are privately owned.

According to DNR, Wisconsin has the largest number of burial sites in North America. The state has strengthened the protection of these sites in recent years as it has become widely recognized that an estimated 20,000 to 30,000 burial mounds built by Native Americans before the arrival of Europeans were destroyed on a large scale.

However, it did not prevent tribal officials from worrying about the treatment of human bodies at the Kohler ruins.

Bell Ruggins, a professor of business administration at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, who lives near the premises of Kohler and opposes the golf course, shared an email with Wisconsin Watch. She and her husband Eric Seren Received them through a disclosure law request to the Army Engineers, who are evaluating Caller’s application to discharge material into 3.7 acres of federal wetlands.

Ragins says he was surprised to learn that Kohler was moving forward even after archaeologists identified the first cash of burial mound groups and Native American artifacts a few years ago.

“If it was my grandmother’s graveyard, they would never do this, so it’s just going to be heartbreaking,” says Ragins.

Kohler Co.’s site is National Register of Historic Places, and the company has funded archaeological work to address the “bad effects” on the historic location of the project. This was required by the federal government before Army troops issued permits.

Ultimately, Kohler must present a plan to educate the general public about how Native Americans and others lived and worked in this place long ago. According to an agreement between Kohler Company and state, federal and tribal institutions, anyone “must be treated with the utmost dignity and respect” during the process.

According to an email, a team at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee temporarily stored the body rather than immediately reburying it, which was opposed by historic preservation officials from multiple tribes.

The controversy escalated in July 2019 when a staff member of the University of Wisconsin History Association emailed a notification that a team at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee had encountered an adult molar tooth.

“This is another part of the human body of our ancestors found here,” said David Grinyon, historic conservation officer for the Menominee Indians in Wisconsin. “… Is the project stopped or will it continue, or is Kohler’s influence too great to stop?”

Leslie Eisenberg, a compliance archaeologist at the State Historic Preservation Office of the Wisconsin Historical Society, said she had clear authority to demand that Caller interfere with “unregistered” burial grounds. The office granted that permission. She wrote that archaeologists couldn’t leave the teeth in place because they found them on a screen that had been screened rather than directly in the field.

“I recently told everyone working on this project that if a human bone is found during the rest of the excavation, it should not be moved until every effort has been made to avoid it as much as possible. It reminded me, “she wrote.

The next day, Quackenbush called on the excavation to be stopped to discuss broader concerns.

“I strongly feel that our tribe has little cultural sensitivity. These relics have been pulled from the ground in response to our ongoing demand that we do not. No one seems to consider that, “Quokkenbush wrote in an email.

Quackenbush told Wisconsin Watch that differences in cultural perceptions could create tension. He said it wasn’t limited to the excavation of callers.

“We are very tired of people trying to analyze, re-analyze and take advantage of our ancestors,” he said. “To get into talks immediately and speed up the process. Is in the process of creating an agreement. “

Complaints about the excavation of callers reached university leaders. The University of Wisconsin system and board have coordinated a conversation between Quakenbush and Prime Minister Mark Monet of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, email communications show.

A few days later, university staff facilitated that part of the analysis by placing cigarettes with all the recovered bodies, wrapping them in white cloth, and promising to keep them in a safe storage place until reburial.

Representatives of Ho-Chunk, Menominee, and Potawatomi finally reburied nearby bodies in the summer of 2020. However, the lesson was that state and federal law may be inadequate to protect cultural dignity.

“For example, I think protecting the bodies and burying them on the scene is a higher priority than building a golf course. But that said, (the Callers) are landowners and they Has the right to do what they want, “he said.

Archaeologists often disturb human bodies at work, and special procedures, state burial protection, and professional etiquette “ethically and culturally sensitive treatment of human bodies,” Haas said. Helped to ensure that. “

Haas’ team still catalogs and analyzes approximately 38,000 historical relics and 214,000 prehistoric relics. According to Haas, the draft report will not be submitted until the spring of 2023 and must be approved by the Wisconsin Historical Society.

This is just one of the hurdles that Kohler must clear in order to realize its vision.

In the 1930s, the company purchased 468 acres of land along Lake Michigan and donated nearly half to what is now Kohler-Andrae State Park. The rest are currently scheduled for a golf course.

Kohler worked with Sheboygan officials to annex the land after key officials in the town of Wilson, its original jurisdiction, openly opposed the plan. The annexation broke out a legal battle, and in 2020 the Wisconsin Supreme Court was on the side of Kohler. A few months later, the Sheboygan Planning Commission granted the company a conditional license.

Kohler says that about four acres of wetlands must be destroyed to build the course. The company plans to cut down half of the trees on the premises to build irrigation ponds, golf cart walkways, clubhouses, maintenance buildings, and entrance roads.

Kohler Co. pledges to carry out the restoration through a program that can sponsor the restoration or creation of wetlands elsewhere.

However, some scientists say the development will permanently change the ecosystem of the entire rare landscape. And one former DNR wetland ecologist told Wisconsin Watch in 2018 that DNR managers are inadequate. He said he pressured staff to approve a wetland permit application.

The administrative law judge revoked the permit in 2019. Kohler Co. has appealed and the case remains in the Sheboygan County Circuit Court.

Separately, the Wisconsin Court of Appeals reinstated a black river forest friend’s state land exchange objection last September.

Kohler faces yet another challenge. Due to the erosion of the shores of Lake Michigan, parts of the course can be submerged unless the design is changed.

According to Chad Perishek, head of planning and development for the city, the company is likely to need to return to the Sheboygan planning committee during the redesign, but the exact process depends on the details.

Willis said the initial routing and design of the course was “unchanged.”

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