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JAMESTOWN, R.I. (AP) "An Indian tribe is concerned that the burial
of a pipe could disturb ancient burial grounds on this southern island. "
By Associated Press, 8/17/2002 08:53JAMESTOWN, R.I. (AP) An Indian tribe is
concerned that the burial of a pipe could disturb ancient burial grounds on
this southern island. Town officials plan to inter a 9,000-foot-long pipe to
alleviate a chronic water shortage for about 3,000 customers half of
Conanicut Island's population. But Narragansett Indian leaders fear burying
the pipe will spur development, and could threaten burial sites dotting the
9.5-mile-long island. Work is expected to begin in two weeks. The Public
Archaeology Laboratory will conduct a dig along the route before the pipe is
laid. ''With more water comes more development,'' John Brown, the tribe's
historic preservation officer, told The Providence Journal for its Saturday
editions. ''And once they start building, they're going to hit more tribal
burial sites.'' To protect hidden graves, the tribe wants the town to require
builders to conduct archaeological digs before they break ground on new
homes. The digs could cost builders several thousand dollars more per site.
The pipe to be buried runs between South Pond and the town's reservoir.
''Without it we face a serious water crisis,'' said Jamestown Town
Administrator Maryanne Crawford. If the town doesn't protect the sites, the
tribe may go to court to reclaim the island, said Brown, adding the
Narragansetts preceded colonists as inhabitants. ''The tribe never gave up
its rights to that land,'' Brown said. ''We did not give up our sacred
places.'' Crawford said she has talked to Brown. Any agreement may be too
broad and could interfere with the rights of private property owners, she
said. Archaeologists and builders have in past years uncovered early remains
and artifacts in Jamestown, which was incorporated in 1678. Some experts
consider Jamestown to be New England's largest Indian burial site. The island
has battled water shortages for a decade. In 1993, the shortage was so severe
the National Guard was called in to dump water into the reservoir. This year,
the reservoir is 2½ feet below its high mark. Residents have been asked to
avoid outdoor watering.
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