“Democracy” and the Desecration of Native Burial Sites
By Jacqueline S. Homan
Aboriginal rights and cultural preservation advocates graciously offered to do the city’s job for them (without the good pay and benefits package that city employees get, of course): they made their peaceful presence visible at this contested site to deter further destruction caused by the BMX crowd, who repeatedly thumbed their noses at the law by mucking up the park in connection with their recreation.
Joe Warmington of the Toronto Sun falsely referred to the aboriginal rights advocacy and peacekeeping group encamped at Snake Mound as a “mini Caledonia” incident. Caledonia entailed a violent confrontation in the 1990’s between the Mohawk community and police over a fraudulent transfer of land title by non-native members of the town council to a private developer seeking to expand a high-priced housing development and possible golf course onto unceded Mohawk land. Warmington also said in his May 18, 2011 article that “there is no official archeological evidence” to back up First Nations people’s claims of an ancient burial site.
Paul Russell of the National Post quipped in his May 22, 2011 article that “there was absolutely no physical evidence” that Snake Mound is an ancient burial and/or ceremonial site. But where do these reporters get their facts? Did they get their info from the same source as the city of Toronto?
Toronto relied on the expert opinion of Ron Williamson, a Toronto archeologist who has not held his professional credentials and licenses since December 31, 2000.
This may not be a coordinated campaign, but it's a campaign nonetheless. The strategy is to denigrate the Indians, deny their claims, and dismiss their concerns. The goal is to "vanish" the Indians politically the way we almost vanished them physically.
Why is this happening? Because the white man wants to stay in control. Acceding to the Indians' wishes means giving up control. It means acknowledging Native history and culture, which means revisiting Native land claims and treaty rights. The white man doesn't want to do that, so it's denigrate, deny, and dismiss.
Of course, the archaeologist's lack of credentials doesn't prove that he's wrong and the Indians are right. The article could've said more about why the Indians are sure Snake Mound is a burial site. Since the issue seems to be in question, that is.
For more on burial grounds, see Wamapoke Curse in Parks and Recreation and The Savage in Bonanza.