January 04, 2010

NPS rules against wind turbines

For Cape Cod Wind Farm, New Hurdle Is Spiritual

Two Massachusetts Indian tribes have objected to the Cape Wind project, saying it would block their unimpeded view of the sunrise.

By Abby Goodnough
In a new setback for a controversial wind farm proposed off Cape Cod, the National Park Service announced Monday that Nantucket Sound was eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places, guaranteeing further delays for the project.

Known as Cape Wind, the project is the nation’s first planned offshore wind farm and would cover 24 square miles in the sound, an area roughly the size of Manhattan. The park service decision came in response to a request from two Massachusetts Indian tribes, who said the 130 proposed wind turbines would thwart their spiritual ritual of greeting the sunrise, which requires unobstructed views across the sound, and disturb ancestral burial grounds.
And:In seeking the historical designation, the Wampanoag tribes—whose name translates to “people of the first light”—said their view to the east across Nantucket Sound was integral to their identity and cultural traditions.

“Here is where we still arrive to greet the new day, watch for celestial observations in the night sky and follow the migration of the sun and stars in change with the season,” wrote Bettina Washington, historic preservation officer for the Aquinnah Wampanoag, in a letter to federal officials.

Supporters of Cape Wind have pointed out that the Aquinnah Wampanoag’s land is on the western side of Martha’s Vineyard, which does not face Nantucket Sound. But in its ruling, the National Park Service nonetheless said the sound was significant to both tribes.

“The sound is part of a larger, culturally significant landscape treasured by the Wampanoag tribes and inseparably associated with their history,” wrote Janet Snyder Matthews, who was the keeper of the National Register of Historic Places until she left the park service in December.

The tribes also argued that the wind turbines, which would be 440 feet tall, could destroy long-submerged tribal artifacts from thousands of years ago, when the sound was dry land. Such artifacts could “yield further confirmation of our cultural histories,” Ms. Washington wrote.
National Park Service says Nantucket Sound eligible for special protections

By Andrew MigaThe Wampanoag—the tribe that welcomed the Pilgrims in the 17th century and is known as "the people of the first light"—practice sacred rituals requiring an unblocked view of the sunrise. That view won't exist if the Cape Wind project's 130 turbines, each over 400 feet tall, are built several miles from the Cape Cod shore across a 25-square-mile swath of federal waters. The turbines would be visible to Wampanoag in Mashpee and on Martha's Vineyard.

Tribal rituals, including dancing and chanting, take place at secret sacred sites around the sound at various times, such as the summer and winter solstices and when an elder passes. The tribes also say their ancestors' remains are buried on Horseshoe Shoal, where the turbines would be built.
Comment:  For more on the subject, see Wampanoag vs. Wind Turbines.

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