by Matt Keene / Gargoyle
Indigenous peoples and those standing in solidarity refuse to sit idle as the St. Johns River Water Management District and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers prepare to flood sacred burial grounds.
The indigenous activists have concentrated their efforts near the headwaters of the St. Johns River in the Three Forks Marsh Conservation Area, where the SJRWMD and USACE intend to flood approximately 14,000 acres, creating a sprawling lake on top of essential wetlands and disturbing indigenous burial grounds.
In an urgent call to action, the Council of the Original Miccosukee Simanolee Nation Aboriginal Peoples stated that:
“The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Water Management Districts and Seminole Tribe, Inc. have crossed the line disturbing our way of life, and our culture, and our sacred (holy) grounds and sacred (holy) aboriginal burial grounds. This has been going on too long. Enough is enough.”
The flooding is set to occur this year as part of a $250 million replumbing of the St. Johns River headwaters, intended to decrease the amount of freshwater flowing into the Indian River Lagoon and create a destination for bass fishing. The project has been in the works for more than fifteen years, but indigenous artifacts uncovered in 2009 halted the project. Some of the artifacts have been dated to around 3000 B.C.
According to a letter sent from the council, the Seminole Tribe, Inc. told the USACE in a meeting regarding the archaeological site, “we realize you cannot protect every site, but in the future be more careful.”
The council, however, is not satisfied. The letter also stated that:
“The Aboriginal Peoples buried at Three Forks Marsh Conservation Area were not federally recognized peoples. They were free peoples living the natural law, which is way, way, above and beyond the limitations of the federally recognized tribal government or the United States government. We are the peoples of those peoples, and we are going to continue living and doing the things we have been doing since the beginning of the creation of life. We did not choose this life. The Creator (God) chose this life for us, and he gave us the Natural Law and our way of life, and we have the responsibility and obligation to maintain [it].”
The aboriginal resistance is part of a groundswell of indigenous opposition across North America, including Idle No More and First Nations’ protests against tar sands and resource extraction, Lakota and Cheyenne River Sioux resistance of the Keystone XL pipeline and the Seminole Tribe protests against a proposed Florida Power and Light power plant in the Everglades.
The council stated that they are offended by the insensitivity of the proposed flooding and that:
“Our elders defended themselves against the aggressive attacks during the American wars against the Miccosukee Simanolee Nation. They defended their right to live … and right to follow the Natural Law given to them by the Creator. We are those people and we are still defending our rights.”