LETER ON GRAVE REMOVAL - July 6, 1923
Hayward Indian School
July 6, 1923
TO: The Commissioner of Indian Affairs
Dear Mr. Commissioner:
With further reference to my letter of July 3rd replying to the Office telegram of June 27th, your Office is now informed that I am in receipt of a letter from Father Philip Gordon of Reserve, Wisconsin calling my attention to the fact that nothing thus far has been done towards removing cemeteries on the reservation now being flooded by the Wisconsin-Minnesota Light and Power Company from the back-water of their dam on the Chippewa River.
On one other item Father Gordon writes:
“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.”
Since receiving this communication from Father Gordon, I have take the matter up with the Chief Engineer for the Wisconsin-Minnesota Light and Power Company with reference to the removal of these graves, but the contention of the Chief Engineer is to the effect that the license granting them permission to construct the reservoir refers to only graves located on tribal lands and they are therefore not inclined to remove any graves that are located on private property. However, the Chief Engineer states that if any good and special reason was given him, and that such reason was satisfactory to him that they would be willing to remove certain graves now located on private property. As to just what he means in this matter I do not thoroughly understand.
The graves mentioned by Father Gordon, which are located in the little pagan cemetery near the former Government House are on tribal land and of course in this area the Power Company will be required to remove them. Sometime during the past months the Power Company removed some graves from this cemetery but possibly 10 to 12 graves were left, as the surface of the graves would not be below the flowage level. It now appears from the Office telegram of June 27th that all the graves should be removed where the flowage level reaches the coffins in their graves and if this is the case practically all of the graves in this pagan cemetery must be removed.
The (two lines unreadable) was impossible – at least impractical to remove them until the water level is lowered. (1 line unreadable) that they will remove these graves (1 line unreadable) located below the level (two lines unreadable) would be more satisfactory to remove them.
About two miles north of the Post and along the Chippewa River is located another cemetery. It is however on private property but in order to please some of the Indians the Power Company last winter removed some of the graves from this cemetery. The Indians are now saying that other graves be removed from this cemetery as the water level has risen above graves, but the Power Company is not inclined to remove any more graves from the cemetery.
In view of the fact that the Power Company has interpreted the article in the license granted them by the Federal Power Commission on the construct of this reservoir to mean that all graves should be removed where the water level reaches the surface of the ground over the coffin, is due to delay removing these graves. I trust, however, that we will be able to arrange this satisfactorily for all concerned.
Very truly yours,
Byron A. Sharp