Burial Mounds Threatened By Quarry Seeking Profits
The survey did not take into account that human remains decompose. “The site is hundreds of years old and bound to deteriorate over time. To review the one piece of evidence that states no remains have been found would result in a biased opinion,” Rebecca Maki-Wallander, Ho-Chunk Nation Department of Justice Tribal Attorney, wrote in the Ho-Chunk’s response.
Those involved in the case have been told by the court not to discuss it, but Sampson agreed to offer his opinion, adding that his opinion does not reflect the Historical Society’s. Personally, he supports the Ho-Chunk position.
“Anybody that tries to challenge this law knows they are in for a long legal battle,” Sampson said. “This is a unique case, and personally I think it is a money grabbing attempt for profit and it is ridiculous. I would be stunned if there was an exception to this rule. If you make an exception, you open up the floodgate of people who would destroy the mounds for development, and I can’t see that happening.”
While the court’s decision may take years, Shea’s Wingra Redi-Mix has tried to circumvent the process by applying for a zoning permit to dig the quarry. While Shea believes he should be able to do what he wants with his private property, it has previously been determined by the Wisconsin Supreme Court that one’s personal agenda does not overrule zoning laws.
Describing the un-cataloguing of the site as unlikely, Assistant Attorney General Bruce Olsen told the Wisconsin State Journal, “Once it’s a burial site, it always is. Human remains are likely to decompose and I think the legislature recognized that. Once remains are buried, they continue to be buried.”
There are many parties in Wisconsin that hope Olsen is right. According to the Wisconsin Department of Justice, over 80 percent of known pre-historic burial sites have been damaged or destroyed. The court’s decision will be an important one and could impact all of the mounds in Wisconsin on private property.
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