Friday, June 18, 2010

Indian Remains

Today, if construction workers unearthed a Native American grave site or camp site, work would halt immediately and the State Archaeologist would perform an extensive survey under the Native American Graves Protection and Reparations Act. If determined a significant site, construction would be stopped. If just antiquities such as pottery and arrow heads or points were discovered, work and excavations would be halted until artifacts were fully recovered. If a burial site, work could stop permanently - this to honor our Native American predecessors with the proper respect – until the remains could be fully located and reburied in a safe cemetery site conducted with a proper Native American ceremony.

However, long before the Federal Legislation was enacted, things were markedly different. For years, people have found arrow heads and points around the perimeter of Lake Pocotopaug. One summer day at Sears Park with my son back in the late 1980s, I spotted a perfect arrow head, but alas, a young boy was sitting next to it and pulled it from the waters edge.

But years earlier, in late August 1923, George Walton, Maurice Galvin and Bartholomew Cavanaugh, while working on an excavation for N. B. Carrier near his casino at Lake Pocotopaug (now the location of the Mallard Cove condominiums), unearthed an Indian grave. According to the report at the time, the skull was complete - skin, bones and bones of the lower arm were unbroken - and also found in the grave were several arrow heads. Mr. Carrier gave the skull to a New Haven man. Other summer guests at the lake colony secured the other bones as souvenirs. Quite a travesty by today’s standards!

This prompted further excavations of ground near Carrier’s Casino and speculation that the skeletons of Chief Terramugus, after whom the twin islands were named (as well as Marlborough’s Lake) and also the beautiful maiden Pocotopaug (Princess Namonee) might also be unearthed. Fortunately no other graves were discovered or desecrated.

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