Sunday, February 24, 2013

Losing A Landscape

On Thursday, the day after Loren and Lori Jepson's petition was heard by the North Dakota Industrial Commission, and dismissed, heavy equipment was moved out to Killdeer Mountain. The Jepson family had seen a number of people out working, maybe doing archaeological survey, but more likely it was surveyors for the haul road being built as of yesterday.

There is no archaeological survey required on state lands, and Lynn Helms said there would be archaeological monitoring as the fill, and pad went into place over the archaeological site, but unless they find human remains his plans are only sufficient at fully destroying the archaeology. The fill itself could be coming from a pit that did not see an environmental, or archaeological process prior to be opened up, so the fill itself could be part of the destruction of other resources somewhere else. Lynn Helms also said that after the wells quit pumping the fill would be removed. I would expect the fill to be removed with heavy equipment that will also further the destruction of the site.

The hardest part is knowing, but not quite being able to fully comprehend the grief, and loss the Jepson family is feeling. They are losing a part of the landscape that had always been home to them, they are losing the solitude, their privacy, their quiet space in the mad world that had been going on around them, and it is now stepping on their doorstep, and it refuses to leave. There is no protection from the government against this beast, there is no safety, or comfort offered. It is forceful, and relentless, it takes at will what it wants, no questions asked.

The Jepson family have no doubt spent a small fortune to save a place that belongs to all the people of North Dakota, but the state has shown to them that it values one resource above all other resources, and above the wishes of the people directly, and negatively impacted.

3,000 years of known history will be gone in an hour. So many hunters have walked across that section of land to bring home a big buck, or doe, and now those days are gone. A place that at one time was recommended for National Park status, and has seen a battle/massacre, and the deaths of many that should be honored, is now being desecrated, and all in the name of progress.

If the laws continue to go unchanged there will be many other Jepson's, I'm certain many have fought this battle before, but with less controversy. The only difference is that not all have a battlefield, and sacred landscape in their backyard. It is a loss for the Jepson's of the life they always knew, but it is also a loss of a piece of the nation's history. Those battles/massacres did what President Lincoln needed to bring Euro-American settlement to Dakota Territory, and everything to the west. We quickly forget the chain of events that brought us to today, but the people who fought against the soldiers passed the stories on, it is not forgotten by all. This land has a cycle of loss, from the First Peoples, to the Euro Americans, as it now succumbs to Corporate America's industrialization of the rural landscapes. It is the next invasion, another iron horse, and it will not be stopped.