Sunday, November 21, 2004

Modern Grave Diggers

Like many other bloggers, I'm a little burnt out post-election. I've drafted about 5 different posts this week and then decided they were just to silly to publish. But this story is one I'd like to see get more attention:

Ancient village, graveyard torn apart by bridge project:

Snip: PORT ANGELES — In a makeshift morgue, handmade cedar boxes are stacked row upon row, each holding the ancient remains of the ancestors of the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe, all facing east toward the sunrise. Ripped from what was to be their final resting place, the remains were put here for safekeeping until the tribe can find a place for their dead to rest once more. The bones have been exhumed by contractors for the state Department of Transportation as it builds a marine facility needed for reconstruction of the Hood Canal Bridge. The excavation inadvertently unearthed Tse-whit-zen, the largest prehistoric Indian village ever discovered in Washington, portions of which date back more than 1,700 years... Watching the graves being disturbed has already been too much to bear. "I feel I am at my last thread; it has been overwhelming to feel the things we feel and see the things we see," said Carmen Charles, 21, the tribal chairwoman's niece. The Charles family is one of the largest on the reservation. She said she was forced, because of contractors in a hurry to sink a piling, to break apart the bodies of a couple, buried with their legs linked, their arms around each other, and faces turned to one another. "It was very hard, something I will have to live with the rest of my life. You are literally staring into your ancestors' eyes, into their souls. Sometimes you have to break a bone to get it out, and it's this rush of sadness, I just have to turn off my emotions."

If this were a white pioneer cemetery, there would be absolutely no question about stopping the construction project long enough to remove all the bodies & relocating them, no matter what the cost of delay.

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