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Indian Grave Desecration
Associated Press - October 17, 2002
GREENVILLE, S.C. (AP) - The federal government is questioning plans to
build a community at Lake Keowee in Pickens County because planned
dredging could endanger preservation of a Cherokee village containing
The U.S. Department of the Interior wants to intervene, saying the
proposal to remove about 3,300 cubic yards of sediment from the bottom
of the lake could disturb human remains, objects and structures ``of
great importance to Cherokee peoples and to the United States.''
The motion is contained in Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
documents obtained by The Greenville News.
Dredging would provide safe access for boats trying to reach previously
approved docks serving the Cliffs at Keowee Vineyards subdivision, the
documents say. Boat access is difficult when water levels are low.
Developer Jim Anthony said he didn't know Indian remains were near the
subdivision. Anthony said he will call federal officials to get help
determining exactly where the remains are located.
``We'd be the first ones to want to protect them,'' Anthony said.
``That, quite frankly, would probably be as advantageous to our
development as anything else, having authentic Indian burial grounds.''
If federal officials don't want the dredging, ``then we won't do it,''
Duke Energy Corp., which owns the land under the lake, proposed the
permit for the subdivision.
FERC must approve the project because of its potential impact on water
quality, fish habitat and shorelines, said Celeste Miller, an agency
The agency is accepting comments about the proposed dredging, she said.
Duke says it will work with state officials to determine what should be
done with the Indian remains.
``As we've purchased property for generating facilities or any other
related facility for Duke and have identified or uncovered Indian
artifacts, we have proceeded by state guidelines,'' Duke spokeswoman
Guynn Savage said.
Cherokee Chief Gene Norris of Greenville said the remains shouldn't be
``Leave those people where they are,'' he said. ``What purpose is it
going to serve for them to dig up sediment?''
Norris is chief of the Piedmont American Indian Association - Lower
Eastern Cherokee Nation of South Carolina.
Norris said his people, even though they are not a federally recognized
tribe, should be notified of any activity affecting former tribal lands
in the South Carolina foothills.
More than a dozen of the 309 Indian remains that are in state custody
were unearthed in 1967 when Duke Power Co. stripped the Keowee-Toxaway
basin to create Lake Keowee.
Tribal leaders want those remains returned for proper burial. Gov. Jim
Hodges has asked Interior Secretary Gale Norton to help clear
bureaucratic hurdles set up by federal law that requires tribes to be
federally recognized and to prove ancestral heritage. Most of the
remains held by the state are unidentifiable.
Disposition of the remains is governed by the federal Native American
Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, which requires the state to
consult with all potentially related Indian groups before deciding the
appropriate custodian. That includes 21 federally recognized tribes
outside South Carolina, in addition to numerous groups within the state.
The Keowee-Toxaway remains might never be tied with certainty to the
Cherokee, even though that was the tribe inhabiting the region at the
time of European contact.
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