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Need for road, burial ground, clash : For the moment, sacred area under state protection

Skeletal remains from an Indian burial ground were found in southern Wisconsin during excavation for a highway construction project.The remains included "several teeth and what may be part of a poorly preserved pelvic bone," according to minutes of a July meeting between the state Department of Transportation and American Indian tribal representatives.The records obtained by the Wisconsin State Journal show the remains were found one foot below the surface in a farm field west of Middleton.The land was not owned by the DOT at the time of the discovery but has since been purchased as part of the expansion of U.S. Highway 12 into four lanes between Madison and Sauk City. About 4 acres of the 50-acre site will be affected by the highway project, according to the DOT.The area is being protected from further agricultural use or construction for the moment. State officials and the tribes are discussing ways to preserve the burial grounds and continue with the highway project.Several alternatives are being reviewed by tribes from Wisconsin and the Iowa Sac and Fox tribe of Oklahoma. The grounds are believed to be Iowa Sac and Fox, tribes which once lived in Dane County.Among the proposals being considered:nBuilding a bridge over the site to protect the remains.nLeaving the remains and placing a gravel shoulder over a portion of the grounds.nFilling the site and paving over it.No estimates have been provided on what those proposals would cost.The tribes oppose covering the site with gravel or payment, calling it disrespectful.DOT officials said shifting the roadway to a different location to protect the burial grounds is not an option. They refused to comment to the newspaper about the negotiations with the tribes.

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