Message #114
From: AzTeC SW Archaeology SIG
To:   "'Matthias Giessler'" 

Date:	Wed, 18 Mar 1998
Subject: Burials, Archaeology, and SLC Legacy Highway

From: Kevin Jones

Indian burial sites may stall work on Legacy Highway
UDOT likely to uncover artifacts while building
By Josh Loftin Deseret News staff writer

The burial sites of long-dead Indians may stall 
construction of the Legacy Highway. Archaeologists say 
it is highly possible that numerous Indian burial 
sites lie beneath the soil of west Davis county. If 
such sites are found along whatever highway corridor 
is eventually selected, the Utah Department of 
Transportation may wind up with substantial delays and 
increased costs while building the proposed West Davis           
Highway, a 13-mile portion of the Legacy Highway. 
While officials are confident the highway would 
eventually be built, stops to excavate sites, and even 
lawsuits, could delay the work. "The density of sites 
in that area is very high," said Steve Simms, a 
professor of anthropology at Utah State University. 
"The American Indian tribes were burying their 
deceased very near to the places Utahns are living 
now." Much like farmers today, many of the tribes 
preferred the wetlands and quality agricultural land 
near the Great Salt Lake, Simms said. These areas 
provided necessary resources such as plentiful water 
and large populations of wildlife. Simms' and other 
archaeologists' concern is based on more than 
guesswork. After the Great Salt Lake flooded in 1990, 
Simms was a member of a team that recovered the 
remains of at least 85 humans in an area between 
Willard Bay and Plain City. The researchers dated many 
of the remains, which came from more than 500 sites, 
as older than 1,000 years, he said. Even more sites 
could turn up in the path of the West Davis Highway, 
Simms said. The lake constantly deposits sediment in 
the area that has covered most of the sites. The 
sediment burial of the sites poses a serious problem 
for both UDOT and archaeologists, because although 
researchers feel confident they exist, they don't know 
exactly where to look. Any sites uncovered during 
construction -- the most likely time to find these 
sites  -- will cause the project to halt in that 
particular spot, said Chris Lizotte, UDOT's 
preservation specialist. "We don't know what's out 
there," Lizotte said. "The sites are buried, and we 
don't know what impact this construction will have." 
UDOT policy has long held that any site with 
historical value, whether human remains, arrowheads or 
pioneer tools, requires an archaeological evaluation 
before any construction can occur on the site, Lizotte 
said. Already, UDOT has purchased one piece of North 
Salt Lake land that all proposed alignments will 
cross. Even though the study in that area is only 
preliminary, researchers have found arrowheads and 
tools. One advantage UDOT does have is the ability to 
adjust the road within the alignments during 
construction to avoid smaller sites, and to work on 
other areas of the road during any larger excavations. 
Another advantage for UDOT is knowing that the sites 
probably exist. Because of that knowledge, UDOT has 
already began negotiating with six to eight nearby 
tribes, in hoping to make make the analysis and 
removal of any discoveries run smoothly, Lizotte said. 
"The hope is that our being proactive with the tribal 
governments will help us avoid big problems later." He 
said UDOT and tribal leaders have nearly reached an 
agreement outlining protocol for the treatment of 
these sites. A problem the agreement won't solve is 
the possibility that lawsuits could stall the project. 
Lizotte, as well as tribal leaders and archaeologists, 
agree that the currently strained relationships 
between state government and certain tribes could 
prompt a lawsuit. Were a suit to occur, the project 
could face delays of months, if not years. UDOT's 
attempts to address the problem ahead of time has 
eased the mind of American Indian leaders, however. 
While he would prefer the sites be left undisturbed, 
Forrest Cuch, state director of Indian affairs, said 
that UDOT's contact with the tribes makes him 
confident that the tribes will have good control over 
the excavation of the sites. "They (UDOT) are making a 
good-faith effort to work with tribes," Cuch said. But 
Cuch didn't rule out any action regarding the handling 
of sites. "We will have to deal with each site on a 
case-by-case basis," he said. Most everyone agrees 
that the farther east the road is built, the lesser 
the chance that sites will be found. The wetlands 
along the shores of the Great Salt Lake most likely 
have the greatest concentration of sites, primarily 
because less farming and development have occurred in 
the wetlands. Of the four proposed highway alignments, 
the westernmost Alignment C (backed by south Davis 
cities) passes through the most wetlands. Already, the 
Army Corps of Engineers has opposed any construction 
through the wetlands, although UDOT hasn't stopped 
considering any alignment option. Not being able to 
excavate sites previous to the start of construction 
poses problems for archaeologists, as well. "From an 
archaeological perspective, I'm horrified," said Kevin 
Jones, Utah state archaeologist. "I'm afraid they'll 
get all geared up, and burial sites will end up in the 
claws of bulldozers." Most likely, Jones said, any 
remains will be excavated and stored at an American 
Indian repository, located at This is the Place State 
Park in Salt Lake City. Although Jones would prefer 
that no sites be disturbed, he said that UDOT will 
most likely build the West Davis Highway, and sites 
will be damaged. "We would all like to leave human 
remains undisturbed, but in some cases you simply 
cannot," he said. "If a highway goes through there, 
the sites will get disturbed."

Wednesday, March 18, 1998
Indian Graves to Be Protected

If the Legacy-West Davis Highway is built, 
construction crews could unearth the remains of 
American Indians buried through the centuries along 
the Great Salt Lake's fluctuating shoreline. State and 
tribal leaders are preparing for that possibility, 
negotiating an agreement that outlines how uncovered 
grave sites and artifacts would be handled. "We are 
proceeding on the assumption that we may encounter 
them [grave sites]," said Chris Lizotte, the Utah 
Department of Transportation's preservation 
specialist. ``The agreement essentially assures we're 
complying with appropriate laws and are sensitive to 
Native American needs if we encounter burials.'' The 
talks with a half-dozen tribes are proceeding 
smoothly, said Forrest Cuch, director of the Utah 
Division of Indian Affairs. ``We're satisfied they're 
making a good-faith effort to involve the tribes,'' he 
said. ``We want to ensure the law [the Native American 
Graves Protection and Repatriation Act] is followed 
and the tribes are consulted about disposition of the 
remains.'' The Great Salt Lake's rise and subsequent 
fall during the 1980s exposed dozens of grave sites 
along the lake's east shore. Some archaeologists, such 
as Utah State University Professor Steve Simms, 
believe there could be American Indian remains within 
the corridors of the highway. But Asa Nielson, who 
oversaw a detailed survey of the 12-mile-long strip 
planned for the highway, said he is convinced most 
remains are closer to the lake and that the road area 
is largely empty. ``We crawled over that place for 
weeks. If anybody ought to be qualified to say what's 
out there, we are,'' said Nielson, president of 
Baseline Data, Orem. ``I can tell you without any 
hesitation, we found no evidence of any sacred 
remains. None. There's no guarantees, but... if the 
project goes through, anything can be handled legally, 
respectfully and expeditiously.'' The new $300 million 
highway is proposed to run from Farmington to North
Salt Lake between Interstate 15 and the Great Salt 
Lake. The project has come under attack from community 
leaders who fear it would use up valuable development 
land, and environmentalists worry about destroying 
wetlands next to the Great Salt Lake. The highway has 
not been approved and designers have yet to settle on 
one of three possible alignments. But the project has 
the support of Gov. Mike Leavitt. The Legislature 
appropriated $27 million for the road during the 
recently completed session. If the West Davis Highway 
ultimately is approved and construction exposes burial 
sites, Lizotte said UDOT will stop work immediately. 
The remains will be handled according to terms of the 
agreement, which is still being drafted by UDOT and 
the tribes, including representatives from the 
Northwest Band of Shoshoni, Shoshone-Bannock, Skull 
Valley band of the Goshutes, Ibapah Goshutes, and the 
Ute Tribe. ``As soon as it is finalized, it will go 
out for public comment,'' Lizotte said. He and Nielson 
both noted that the areas proposed as corridors are 
wide enough that a road could be rerouted around a 
burial site. But if that is not possible, Nielson said 
the agreement sets up a procedure governing the 
removal of ``remains, associated artifacts under the 
supervision and guidance of Native Americans and their 
repatriation to the tribes. This material will never 
be in anybody's museum, it's never going to be in 
somebody's box.'' Nielson and archaeologists from his 
company walked the entire area, following a tightly 
controlled pattern that allowed visual inspections of 
every square foot of the surface. They were 
accompanied at times by tribal members involved in 
negotiating the agreement. ``It took weeks and weeks 
to get that done,'' said Nielson. In addition, 
Baseline Data did auger tests in heavily vegetated 
areas to see if anything was buried beneath the site, 
studied aerial photographs, reviewed geomorphology 
records and archaeological reports and interviewed 
American Indians ``to ascertain patterns where things 
were more probable than others.'' Archaeological sites 
were found in the survey. ``The overwhelming majority 
probably will be avoided'' because they are in an 
alignment corridor nobody supports, said Nielson. He 
documented one village whose existence has been known 
since the 1950s. Another small village site also was 
discovered, Nielson added, but it is outside of the 
proposed highway corridors. ``Our goal is to make this 
as positive to [American Indian] religious beliefs as 
possible,'' said Nielson.