Tuesday, February 7th, 2023
Tuesday, February 7th, 2023

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Plan aims to save Plains Indian archaeology in North Dakota

National Park Service photo

STANTON, N.D. — An archaeological resources plan has been drafted to protect the Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site.

The 1,750-acre site just north of Stanton preserves the ancestral homelands of the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara, the remains of earth lodges, and a buried trove of artifacts associated with the cultures.

The drafted plan addresses many issues, including a long-term problem of water infiltration into the site’s visitor center, which has been threatening the museum collection, The Bismarck Tribune (http://bit.ly/2h6zqlm ) reported. Park Superintendent Craig Hansen mentioned an ongoing $350,000 project, which involved pulling back soil around the building to replace the drain field and reinforce water barriers, and to resurface most of the building, might have already solved the problem and should keep water out of the building. However, if the issue is not resolved, the plan calls for finding alternative housing for the museum’s collection of artifacts.

“This really should fix it. By spring, we’ll know,” he said.

The plan also includes removing and replacing maintenance buildings, and suppressing pocket gophers to protect and enhance the Plains Indian archaeology folded into the soil. The plan also aims to address frequent flooding and erosion that sends archaeological sites cascading into the Missouri River.

“Now we can seek solutions before there’s an emergency and artifacts are falling into the river or before pocket gophers dig up everything in the park,” Hansen said.

The plan says the maintenance facilities could cost $2 million to $3 million, depending on the energy-saving technology used in construction.

Hansen says the tribes were consulted in drafting the plan.

The site’s staff began work on the plan two years ago to deal with several problems. They’re now seeking public comment through Jan. 4 and expect to have a final plan by the end of 2017.


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