In Northfield, MA, industrial scale solar developers with eyes on a 78 acre site of prime farmland near the Connecticut River sent the Massachusetts Historical Commission a Notice of Intent requesting to know if there are any significant historical features prior to construction.
MHC: “NO SIGNIFICANT HISTORICAL FEATURES”.
Regardless of what is reported to the MHC about Indigenous features, no lawful action is being taken. It is shameful that we have the worst state historical commission in the country in terms of Indigenous site preservation (reference below).
What are burial stone heaps? They mark the grave or memorial site of a tribal leader.
When a far away relative would hear about the leader’s death, it was not uncommon for them to walk a thousand miles carrying a stone for that burial heap from their home village – to pay respect.
Many of the stones on burial stone heaps came from afar, and each was endowed with the meaning of a relationship through that great personal effort.
Mortuary remains over a hundred years old, Colonial and Indigenous, are required by law to be protected by the MHC. Yet, unless someone brings a costly lawsuit, Indigenous mortuary sites are regularly ignored. Including times when skeletons have literally tumbled out of the dump truck.
You might also wonder, regarding an industrial solar project on prime farmland, why isn’t solar being deployed first on parking lots, rooftops, landfills, rail trails, brownfields and wastelands?
Why are farmers competing with big solar for prime farmland to grow food?
“As a longtime green-thinking person, I never thought I’d see forests and farmland destroyed in the name of green energy,” said Graveline. “People don’t have a sense how big this is — volunteer planning boards versus huge conglomerates. Talk about a mismatch. And they’ll sue towns who don’t buy in.”
Here is a powerful article from the Valley Advocate that also includes discussion of Indigenous historical features: The Solar Divide.
More on Northfield as it develops.
Reference for worst historical commission in the country: Moore and Weiss, Ohio Journal of Archaeology, 2016.