Crews working to build a new dormitory for a boarding school on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation in northwestern Montana have unearthed a prehistoric bison slaughter site.
The discovery prompted the tribal government there to issue a resolution ordering the BIA to stop construction.
David Murray, of the Great Falls Tribune, has the full story:
Blackfeet tribal officials allege the Bureau of Indian Affairs failed to conduct a proper environmental assessment of the site before initiating the project or to consult with the tribe regarding their plans to build a new dormitory at the Cut Bank Boarding School. If true, the BIA would be in violation of both the National Environmental Policy Act and the National Historic Preservation Act. The construction project sits immediately adjacent to a well-known prehistoric bison jump that was extensively excavated in the 1950s
“It’s kind of a big thing because the BIA never really consulted at all with us,” said Blackfeet Tribal Business Council Chairman Willie Sharp Jr. “There’s been a stop order placed on all work and for people not to enter the site. They’ve halted everything down there and the Tribal Historic Preservation Office has secured the site because people were trying to steal some of the artifacts.”
Hundreds of pounds of bison bones have been discovered at the site.
One Blackfeet archaeologist called the Boarding School site a “once-in-a-lifetime” discovery.
Sharp said construction work at the site has been halted for a minimum of two weeks while tribal officials attempt to sort out how to proceed. The tribal council is hoping Department of Interior officials from Washington, D.C., will travel to the Blackfeet Reservation to view the excavation and consult with tribal officials.