- Associated Press - Monday, October 31, 2016

AFTON, Minn. (AP) - Four major projects in downtown Afton have been put on hold after representatives of tribal governments expressed concerns about possible nearby American Indian burial sites.

Work on a community sewer, a better flood levee, a rebuilt St. Croix Trail and improvements to the storm sewer system was to begin last month, the Pioneer Press (https://bit.ly/2fxnnRI ) reported.

Last year, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency issued a final permit for construction, but the project had to be reviewed under the National Historic Preservation Act because federal funding is involved.

Several tribal governments objected as part of that review.

According to Robert TwoBears, a representative of the Ho-Chunk Nation, evidence must be presented to prove the nonexistence of human remains on the site, until then the project cannot move forward. He said “doing so would irreparably damage the historical cultural integrity of the (mound).”

City administrator Ron Moorse said agency officials are reviewing the tribes’ objections letters and are preparing a response.

“We thought that we had really worked through this process and that we had reached a point where we were going to be able to move forward,” Moorse said.

City leaders are scheduled to meet with tribal officials Nov. 7 regarding the Rattlesnake Effigy mound, which is near a planned storm water retention pond.

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Information from: St. Paul Pioneer Press, https://www.twincities.com

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