April 6, 2016

Cache burials interest Three Affiliated Tribes

By Kate Johnson

Where Stanton courthouse sits comes at a significant interest to the State Historical Society. A special meeting was held with the Mercer County Commission to discuss the courthouse expansion project and the procedures put in place for when the dirt begins to move.
Glen Carpenter, AECOM, presented to the commission three maps. Each map showed a different print than the other. One displayed the area where construction is to take place in building an addition to the current courthouse. Another showed where a gravel pit once was in the estimated times of 1920-1940. Lastly was a map of where archaeologists have identified village houses across the site.
Carpenter presented a fourth map with all of these factors intertwined – displaying what homes and areas have been disturbed throughout history. With the amount of construction that has taken place over the years the majority of these homes have been disturbed.
It was said that the State Historical Society’s immediate concern is in the southeast corner. The village timeline was estimated to begin in the 1800s; however some components have been found that the village could have been inhabited earlier. Paul Picha, chief archaeologist with the State Historical Society, made an educated estimate based on his research that the village was occupied for 40 years.
Being that it was said the southeast corner is an immediate concern, nonetheless, the entire site is significant. Picha says they hope to have someone on site throughout the project, considering it’s magnitude; however, he acknowledged the division does not have the staff to put in 40-hour weeks on site.
Carpenter informed commissioners that these procedures and monitors come at a cost, throwing out numbers of $500,000 to $1 million in previous experiences. However, Carpenter gave them an estimated cost of $115,000 for their project, which he stressed that cost was a rough estimate and likely to change depending on the direction the project advances.
Bill Tveit, county commission chairman, begged the question about cost and why Mercer County would endure the bill, purely out of curiosity. Picha took at stab at the answer, although admitting he was not a lawyer, but saying the landowner is responsible to abide by the North Dakota Century Code.
It was also presented that sampling and monitoring of the site had be done in the 1970s excavating and construction occurred then.

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