LETER ON GRAVE REMOVAL - June 30, 1923
Reserve Indian Mission
June 30, 1923
Receive stamped July 5, 1923, Hayward School, Hayward Wisconsin
TO: Byron A. Sharp
Superintendent and Special Distribution Agent
My Dear Mr. Sharp:
The Indians at the Post asked me to look into the flooding of certain graves when I visited that place on Friday. On the request of Anakwad, Mrs. Jockey, and Siginigay, I went by motorboat to where these Indians have fourteen graves of their close relatives. I found the water about one foot over the grave of Anakwad’s father and so close to the top of other graves that I doubt these graves can be moved unless four feet of water are withdrawn from the reservoir.
These Indians state that officials of the Water Power Company told them last winter that the water level would never rise to the height of the graves. As the water level approached the top of these graves, these Indians claim that they repeatedly asked the Power Company to move the graves but no relief was afforded.
In one case, namely George Flemming, after several requests on his part for the removal of a grave, Flemming himself had to remove the remains of his father to keep the grave from being completely inundated. This Indian was obliged to use a pail to gather up the remains of his father, the water having seeped into and formed mud. This undoubtedly the case in all of the fourteen graves of Anakwad as well as numerous graves located on the little rise near the Old Government House occupied by the Indian policeman, Henry Thayer.
It is sad to think that this desecration is permitted. I will wired the Indian Office several weeks ago in the case of the Catholic cemetery, the Commissioner at that time wired in reply that ‘the facts did not justify’ drastic action to force this big Corporation to remove the graves then threatened with water, many of which are now completely under water.
Since Bishop Pinten has now secured to our Catholic cemetery, the Indian Office is relieved of responsibility there but what of the many other graves mentioned above in the case of Anakwad and others? My maternal grandfather, Nekins, together with many of my grand uncles, aunts and cousins are buried in the little pagan cemetery mentioned above near the former Government House. I hereby, on my own behalf, and on behalf of other relatives respectfully that these graves be all removed at once to higher grounds. The water has reached the level of the coffins of several of these graves.
The delay in transfer is very aggravating. There are many points that might be worked up into a nasty propaganda as to who is responsible for the desecration of the many Indian graves and the seeming betrayal of trust in the protection of the Indian dead. For instance, the Indians have been living and dying at the Post for 150 years and yet but 21 graves were removed from the ancient Indian cemeteries. It seems that there should have been more Indians buried near the river than this 21.
Among the latest Protestants against the delay in the removal is John Frog, just in from Round Lake; John has repeatedly been promised help.
I suggest strong action to protect the Indian.