Richland-Wilkin Joint Powers Authority
Original Publication Date:
December 5th, 2013
Wahpeton Daily News
Republished with permission from:
Joel Hanson, chairman, Upstream Cemetery Authority
The 16 upstream cemeteries that will be impacted by the current proposed F-M Dam and Diversion are the final resting places for our ancestors, family and friends who have passed before us. A large number of those at rest were pioneers who came to the Red River Valley following a dream, the promise of a homestead, and a fresh start at making a future for themselves and their families. They were hard working and respectable members of our communities who poured their blood and sweat into making a living. They are the reason we are who we are today.
Now, these sacred places are threatened by the F-M Diversion Authority and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
The Engineers in St. Paul, Minn., are designing this project with little, if any, regard to our ancestors and sanctity of their final resting places. Our cemeteries are in danger of being permanently desecrated by a project that has not been fully designed, yet has been authorized by Congress. Those involved have known the issue of destruction of our rural heritage by flooding or relocating entire cemeteries needs to be resolved.
Just recently, the Corps of Engineers started contacting representatives from the cemeteries to discuss the pending destruction of these sacred places. The latest public relations plea is from Kevin Campbell from the Diversion Authority who is quoted as saying: “It is significant to anyone who has a loved one in one of those cemeteries and we will do everything we can so we don’t change the current situation for them.” That’s a great media sound clip, but to those upstream, it offers no credible answers. His words are just another sound bite in an effort to appease and silence critics of their giant project.
In October, the Upstream Cemetery Authority was formed out of honor and respect for the more than 3,200 individuals who lay at rest in our cemeteries. Not included in this number are countless unmarked graves that are buried across our cemeteries. Through the past few years, cremated remains have been spread over family plots. At rest in our cemeteries are our moms and dads, husbands and wives, grandparents, great-grandparents, and great-great-grandparents, along with sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, aunts and uncles. And let us never forget our veterans who served our country during the good times and bad.
Our ancestors deserve no less from us, and they deserve for us to stand up to the ill-conceived plans that are being presented by the F-M Diversion Authority. Our loved ones left us with strong family values, a heritage of hard work and justice that needs to be defended. This plan thumbs its nose at those values.
Our ancestors in these cemeteries deserve better than being rolled over by the powers and “Big Money” hoping to develop the floodplain south of Fargo. Their final resting places should remain intact and undisturbed so they can truly rest in peace. There are severe moral and ethical issues that stem from this diversion/dam project and we must stand together to make our voices heard.