Fond du Lac Band Asks For Answers; What’s Next?

Ancient Burial Ground Unearthed By MnDOT Road Project

Duluth, Minn.

This Spring, Native American grave sites were disturbed at a MnDOT Highway 23 work site.

The Fond du Lac band called for some kind of resolution.

Tuesday MnDOT held an open house for the community members affected by the issue to speak out.

Months after the department of transportation mistake the construction site remains at a standstill and citizen’s emotions are still running high.

The 2012 flood continues to show its effects. 5 years ago, what started as a project to fix a problem with the Highway 23 Bridge and its inability to allow debris and large amounts of water to run through has caused more problems than expected on the Fond du Lac reservation.

“Somehow through that whole process we completely ignored, missed the opportunity to consult with Fond du Lac.” Said MnDOT, Project Engineer.

An ancient burial ground was disturbed.

“They described the graves they didn’t discover anything. You can’t discover anything that’s already there,” Jarvis Paro, Fond du Lac Band Member.

“Literally the flesh, blood and bones of our ancestors make up the top soil of this land.” Fond du Lac Band Member said.

That was months ago. How has the project moved forward since the point of finding the grave site?

“Today here we are with what is really a disaster. It’s a very sad situation, we cannot ask for forgiveness or apologize enough for the damage that’s been done to this cemetery. So we have to make it right.”

But the halt in construction has some residents concerned.

“I live here. I’ve got dirt piled up, dangerous intersections. My empathy ran out a long time ago. From what I’ve seen so far from MnDOT and the Band, they’ve accomplished nothing.”

What’s going to be done so that future situations like this can be avoided?

“What happens now? We know that it was done. What do we do? What measures do we take or put in to maintain what’s supposed to be there?” Kevin Dupris, Chairman, Fond du Lac.

Archeologists are now on site carefully removing bones from the grave sites.

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