After the passing of David Redwolf (Rastia’ta’non:ha) who was a central force in the work of the THPS it has taken some time to for the THPS to regroup and be publicly active. Much of the activity is to monitor the mounds, to keep them clean of litter and watch for erosion as well as having ceremony for the ancestors. However, the THPS is gearing up for a new phase. We are working on a pamphlet which outlines the Indigenous history of the park and area, hoping to continue with the archeological work to have the mounds recognized in a good way, as well as manifesting new future projects. The website will also be re-activated as David had collected many files containing knowledge of mounds and their builders which we will continue to archive on the site.
Please sign the petition to help stop the proposed BMX Park in High Park.
At the meeting tonight I believe we made our position quite clear, that a BMX/Skills Park is not sanctioned by the Six Nations Confederacy in High Park. a Faithkeeper and a Clanmother from Six Nations was present to also ask that ” there be no BMX Park in High Park.” Those words should have been respected and instead an apology made to our people for making them feel that they or their ancestors are not important. I saw how the balance was tipped by a few towards youths and adults who are undeserving of a place in High Park as this would be a reward for the many years of bad and destructive behavior as well as deliberately breaking the law to get what they want.
I also don’t believe that the other options outside of the park were really seriously looked at, as it was also told tonight that a man who lives in the Humber Bay area, which is not even a 10 minute ride from High Park, has tried to get a BMX Park there for years. Since this man is willing to work with the city on developing the area near the Humber Bay as a site, then we strongly suggest that you pursue that option, because we will do everything possible to stop a BMX Park being put within High Park. It is not within the High Park Management Plan to include such destructive activities to the environment as well as our many sacred sites in which there are 57 left. And none of them will we compromise for the use of a bmx park or any other such activity that is destructive as BMX/skills parks are. We also don’t buy the excuses that the Kids would not cross the Lakeshore if the park was located there. As I have seen many so called kids and adults crossing the Lakeshore with their bikes, to use the bike trail that leads from Toronto to Niagara on The Lake and eastward to the Scarborough Bluffs. If the kids need to exercise so greatly then they can use the Lakeshore trail to ride their bikes on and they would get plenty of exercise. So crossing the Lakeshore and not having a place where they can exercise are not viable excuses.
And again the statement that was made by Councillor Sarah Doucette ” That Laurie Waters mentioned in the last meeting she attended, that she had no problem with the BMX Park being placed in the parking lot in the South East Corner of the park, as there is nothing sacred about a parking a lot”. Unfortunately for Councillor Doucette, no such statement was ever made by Laurie Waters at any meeting. The meeting that Doucette was referring to was the May meeting of former HPACC, and there was no mention of a BMX Park in the parking lot or any other meeting with the HPACC until tonight. Again Councillor Doucette will have to face up to what she said in front of Laurie in the future, and Doucette should not have made statements that Laurie did not say when she was not there to defend herself.
In a meeting that Laurie and I had with Div 11 at the end of May, we were made aware of the city wanting to put a BMX Park in the parking lot. We BOTH said “no” to the police and wanted them to take our alternative idea back of converting the parkette at Keele and Glenlake into a BMX Park to the city. Tonight people at the meeting claimed that park is over used by the neighbourhood kids. I used to live around that area a number of years ago, and had never seen that park being over used as people claim.
Another fallacy about the parking lot is that it isn’t used. I asked Scott Laver if he had been to that end of the park on the Weekend to see how “underused” the parking lot is. He said he had not been there at all on the weekends during the summer. The parking lot is used so much that there is not enough parking for those who want to use the south end of the park, and many times people have to park illegally in order to park at all.
It has also been our experience that the BMXERS will continue to use areas illegally no matter what is done to prevent it. As even since the fence has gone up and signs up, they still continue to jump the fence and bike where they are not supposed to. So mounding up the earth around a parking lot or planting bushes isn’t going to keep them “contained” as it has not kept them contained when they have been using other areas throughout the park illegally.
The best way to deal with this whole issue, is to provide them a place outside of High Park, that is not going to interfere with any environmental concerns or disrespect any of our sacred sites. That would satisfy the majority of the park users which from my many years of experience in High Park, are not the BMXERS or MTB community. And if there is a concern of them destroying other areas of the park because they don’t get their way, then the by-laws need to be enforced to put an end to this.
Another very important issue is the fact that when High Park was bequeathed to the City by John Howard is that the Six Nations would continue their custodial care and responsibility over the sacred sites in High Park. That is conditional and means that Six Nations Confederacy are the primary stakeholders of High Park. And when they say no to a BMX Park in High Park, that needs to be respected by all. Otherwise the experience of the Snake Mound will repeat itself and get even uglier this time. We will be taking further action to stop this BMX Park in High Park as such an activity does not belong in High Park. Please stop this now , take this BMX Park outside of High Park now and respect the words of our Grandmothers.
This is the kind of community that the City of Toronto is catering to: an example who these people really are…
High Park Pink Bike; shows the attitude and who these guys area. (From Sept. 2010)
“Redstone” asks them to not use High Park Illegal jumps, and they threatened him or her.
HIGH PARK, TORONTO
Home to Endangered Habitats & Remarkable Biodiversity
erial view of the High Park Oak Woodland Restoration Site
Urban Forestry assessed the site in consultation with Park staff, concluding that continued use of the site as a BMX skills park was not sustainable and that continued recreational use would destroy the remaining trees on the site and lead to continued soil erosion. A decision was made to restore the site to a forested condition by relocating soils on site, enhancing vegetation cover and eliminating cycling use.
The restoration area on the hillside is part of a small oak deciduous forest, with remnant populations of oak, black cherry, maple leaf viburnum, witch hazel, choke cherry, dogwoods and bush honeysuckle as well as trilliums, upland bent grass, poison ivy, false solomon’s seal and other wildflowers.
As a result of continued recreational use, the site has experienced many years of extreme soil movement. Some areas of excavation exposed tree roots and created unnatural depressions, while in other areas high mounds of soil were piled up against trees. Bike jumps had been constructed over top of downed woody material like stumps and limbs, as well as on soil mounds. Urban Forestry staff and community volunteers redistributed soil to fill areas of excavation and removed unnatural mounds.
Plug stock from the High Park native plant nursery were planted in May and about 500 shrubs purchased from a local grower and a mix of herbaceous plants were planted in the second week of June. Remaining unprotected soil was seeded with buckwheat as an annual cover crop to bind the soil. Additional planting is proposed to be completed in future years when stock is available from the High Park native plant nursery. Oaks will be allowed to naturally regenerate.
The first phase of the restoration project is now complete, with soil relocation and plantings finished as shown in one of the areas in the pictures below. The area is closed to public use to allow for the plantings to establish.
Before soil and planting
After soil and planting
|Restoration Planting (photo taken June 2011)|
In 2008, the City was advised that the site was believed to be an aboriginal burial mound. The City contracted a licensed archaeologist to conduct an archaeological assessment in accordance with the Ministry of Culture’s standards and guidelines. The assessments, completed in September 2009, determined that there is no evidence of archaeological materials. In May 2010, the province accepted the conclusions of the assessments. Based on information provided from these assessment, the City does not recognize the land as a burial ground. The group claiming the site to be culturally significant have been invited to participate in the restoration process.
Spring 2011 – Planting List:
Alternate leafed dogwood
Round leafed dogwood
Purple flower raspberry
Maple leaf viburnum
Upland Bent Grass
- Link: Ravine and Natural Features
- Link: 2011 High Park Prescribed Burn
- Link: High Park Nature
- Link: High Park Community Advisory Council
Niawen skenon! Oneh!
Stepping Into the Twilight Zone of Cultural Racism and the Oppression of Unearned Privilege
Twilight Zone ~ Golden Earring
“Help, I’m steppin’ into the Twilight Zone
Place is a madhouse
Feels like being cloned
My beacons been moved
Under moon and star
Where am I to go Now that I’ve gone too far
Soon you will come to know
When the bullet hits the bone”
On Wednesday September 28th 2011, I entered the Twilight Zone. The High Park Resources Group which oversees the activities of Toronto’s High Park met to discuss Scott Laver’s agenda for a proposed BMX “skills building” park in High Park on the Owl Mound and the parking lot contiguous to the Owl Mound and the Snake Mound. Both of these mounds are of cultural significance to the Native community. The meeting was chaired by Jorge Ture, the supervisor of High Park.
Scott Laver, a Parks Department employee and liaison for the BMX community, came to the meeting — not to present a polite request for a BMX park in High Park, but to ram this plan down the Native community’s throats with no regard whatsoever for the Indigenous people’s threatened and endangered culture. Laver said that the kids involved with BMX “skill building” will continue their recreation on the Native mound sites and wooded areas of High Park anyway — implying that city might as well accommodate them by sacrificing a Native sacred site so the precious darlings don’t mess up the rest of the park or interfere with other people’s peaceful enjoyment of the park.
Laver apparently had already decided to foist this upon the public without any intention of seriously considering alternative sites, three of which were suggested by Graham Seaman, Vice President of the Toronto Off Road Bicyclists Association (TORBA):
Option 1 – Open grassy area in Kings Mill Park
Option 2 – Open grassy area in Humber Marshes Park
Option 3 – Open grassy area in South Humber Park
Laver insisted that High Park’s current permissible uses be changed to allow for a BMX park to be built, saying, “Emerging demands of BMXing is incompatible with High Park’s current uses.”
He said that the parking lot next to the Owl Mound and Snake Mound “had been identified to accommodate a professionally designed skills park facility” that would offer technically challenging riding in a controlled environment. He also said that the City of Toronto’s Parks Department had hired a BMX park designer, Jay Hoots from BC, for the project.
Had the city checked out Jay Hoots, they would know that Hoots got his panties in a wad over losing the contract to build the Kitchener BMX park because he overcharged and then allegedly harassed the actual builder for out-bidding him. Jay Hoots will cost Torontonians more money — twice as much — for the same type of park that could be designed and built by locals with equipment and experience. Why aren’t the taxpayers of Toronto getting a say in whether or not a local contractor hiring local labor is used to plan and build the park?
Rastia’ta’non:ha, Director of the Taiaiako’n Historical Preservation Society (THPS), previously said “no” to this same proposal given by the Parks Department back in May and that this position remains unchanged. Laver argued that “the kids have nowhere else to go.”
Adrian Rhodes challenged that claim, pointing out that there were other more suitable areas that many BMXers also were agreeable to, including a small parkette just north of High Park and that there already were three existing BMX facilities, including the Wallace & Emerson BMX park.
Additionally there was an old unused hockey rink that could be converted for BMXing. But Laver said the existing places were unsuitable, that the kids had set fire to the ramps at Wallace & Emerson rendering it unusable, and that the hockey rink was a no-go because the kids want a BMX park in a natural terrain.
When it was suggested that the BMX park could be built in the Humber Bay area, which is a natural environment, Laver rejected that idea as well, saying “If we build it there, they won’t come. It has to be in High Park” — which implies threats of mayhem from the tantrum-throwing BMX community who bully others in order to get their way. Catherine Tammaro of Huron-Wendat descent and THPS Board member responded by asking why children and adults who had virtually destroyed a large area of forested oak savannah in the park and a sacred space, should be placated as a preventive to further illegal and destructive behavior on their part, in fact seemingly rewarding them for such behavior. She also suggested that all mounds in the park be preserved and protected which would bring admiration from the global community, rather than serving the wants of a very small, ill-behaved group.
Posts from the BMX community at Dropmachine.com forums suggest that BMXers are not the sort of people who believe the law applies to them. One of the posts states that “No one but the riders, ourselves, can determine what will make the park fun and desirable. Not the city.” These aren’t exactly the types who are willing to observe any ordinances and stay in their areas allowed by the city, regardless of what is built for them or where.
If these kids and young adult BMXers have such little appreciation for one of the sites they already had that they set on fire, why should these punks and thugs be rewarded for arson and vandalism by getting another one built for them on taxpayer money just so they can eventually destroy that one too? That money would be better spent on the poorest of the poor who have nothing, to give them a chance for something resembling a nice life.
Dirt jumps or BMX style tracks take up a LOT of room, disturb the landscape, and are not aesthetic. They also require regular maintenance — which costs money. Who will be forced to pay for that? Dirt jumps and pump tracks are pretty much dedicated to BMX. The price of a BMX bike ranges from $350 and go as high as $1,500. A used 2007 Gary Fisher Mullet BMX bike in good condition needing only the rear brakes fixed is going for $380 or best offer. So that leaves out poor kids who are lucky to be able to afford a $100 bike from Wal-Mart or Canadian Tire.
In the states, where tens of millions of poor people struggle just to stay alive, suffering without healthcare or any economic safety net, the price tag for one BMX bike that will only end up getting wrapped around a tree or dashed to bits on rocks could easily keep a family mired in poverty with no hope and no end in sight from freezing to death this winter by paying for utilities, firewood, or biomass pellets.
If a bunch of spoiled rich kids can afford the high-priced ticket of a BMX bike for their aggressive and dangerous sport, then they can afford to pay the costs of buying and building their own BMX facility without looking to Toronto taxpayers to foot the bill for this high-risk activity that is classist at its core since poor youth can’t afford to even get into the game. Any park subsidized by the public should not exclude society’s underprivileged; it should be accessible to all. Poor kids from Toronto at least could enjoy the free zoo at High Park, which the city is shutting down because it “can’t afford it.”
Is it fair that, owing to budget cuts and limited funds, one of the only recreational facilities that poor kids have should be shut down while monies from the public get diverted to pay for the designing and building of a BMX park that caters only to society’s more privileged teens and adults?
This is exclusionary and smacks of elitism and classism against Toronto’s poor youth. That issue alone outweighs any perceived advantage to a publicly funded BMX park that only affluent kids will benefit from. The adage of “live simply so that others can simply live” is apparently lost on the selfish BMXers, and on the city officials supporting them — due in no small measure to the dynamics of unearned social class privilege (who their affluent parents rub elbows with).
It’s also ironic that having a natural terrain BMX park is a non-negotiable “must have” when Scott Laver’s proposal was to put it in the tiny parking lot in High Park’s south east corner — especially when all of the other areas suggested were much bigger than a parking lot barely big enough to turn a car around in; a parking lot that many park-goers use — including members of various Native communities when they drive into Toronto for their ceremonies at the sacred sites.
Passing around a color-printed handout about Hoots Inc., a company located in BC, Laver said, “They’ve compromised on the activity side, and we’ve compromised on the nature side.” Rejecting all of the very reasonable suggestions for alternative sites because the BMXers must have High Park is no compromise by any definition. Laver’s demands that the Native community “be fair” about this was a slap in the face.
“Fair” means that everyone gets what he or she needs. The BMXers already have three existing places to go, plus many suggestions for additional alternative sites. But the Native communities, the Haudenosaunee in particular in this case, are not getting what they need. They cannot simply move their 3,000 year-old burial mounds and sacred sites — and they should not have to!
The majority of their burial mounds and sacred sites were utterly destroyed and desecrated when High Park was built up over the past 150 years — especially when Bloor Street was constructed and an untold number of ancient Native skeletal remains were unearthed. None of these remains and funerary artifacts were ever repatriated to the Native community. No one seems to know what happened to them. The cultural disruption caused by colonization followed by brutal assimilation policies have nearly wiped out all vestiges of Aboriginal people’s cultures. The continuity of a threatened population’s culture is a need; destroying yet another Native sacred site for someone else’s fun is not. The architects of the UN Declaration would agree.
All of this seemed to fall on deaf ears. Councillor Sarah Doucette, who supports Laver’s plan for the BMX park in High Park, said “Mothers don’t want their young children to have to cross Lakeshore Boulevard” in response to another suggested BMX site nearby outside of High Park.
But BMXing is a sport not engaged in by little kids. It’s a high risk activity enjoyed by teens and young adults up through their 30’s — hardly a demographic that wouldn’t be able to cross a busy street without their mommies at one of the designated cross-walks. BMXing has an injury rate that is high enough to result in being surcharged for health and life insurance, if not declined. BMXing is a very dangerous, high risk sport. Crossing Lakeshore Boulevard is not. People of all ages cross Lakeshore Boulevard all the time to catch the streetcar.
Matti Lehikoinen, a pro Downhill Mountain Biker and BMXer from Finland, suffered serious injuries more than once. In 2008, he fractured both wrists while BMXing, needing extensive reconstructive surgery because the fractures were so bad. 12 screws, 3 metal plates and 3 pins later, Matti was back on the BMX trail. He was injured again while racing at the Nordic Downhill Championships in Kungsberget-Sweden over the September 24th and 25th 2011 weekend. He was hospitalized and had to have brain scans. His partner Anna said, “Matti’s jaw, cheekbone, teeth, and nose are pretty badly damaged, and he will have surgery on Wednesday.”
Native rights to cultural preservation are only one of the major issues; liability issues for injuries and risks to public safety are another — passersby can be injured by BMXers. Is Toronto willing to cut off its nose to spite its face just to shove the Native community aside?
Cheryl Hart, who was also present at the meeting, sits on the High Park Resource Group’s board representing the Colburn Lodge which is concerned with maintaining High Park’s Anglo history, particularly the memory of John Howard — the wealthy British official who bought the land and established the park in the early 1800’s with the proviso that the Iroquois community remain stewards of the park among many other conditions.
In response to concerns about the destruction to the Native community’s long, rich history in the area and the loss of sacred sites, Cheryl Hart said, “there’s no historical value to the land.” Apparently, “historical preservation” doesn’t count when it is Aboriginal people’s history, traditions, and culture.
Councillor Doucette added that at a previous meeting, Laurie Waters, a Cree and board member of the THPS, said there would be no problem with putting a BMX park where Laver wants to put it because “there’s nothing sacred about a parking lot.” Yet, Laurie Waters states that she never said this. High Park is a very special place to Laurie as an Indigenous person who comes to the burial mounds for ceremonies honoring the ancestors.
BMXers won’t be content to remain within the area Scott Laver proposes; not with the tempting wooded and hilly terrain of the Owl Mound and Snake Mound right there. But that didn’t seem to concern Jorge Ture, who said that “there are procedures for getting Native burial grounds archeologically designated.”
But Toronto has a track record of using unlicensed archeologist Ron Williamson — an Indiana Jones wannabe who doesn’t have any love for Native people and who has engaged in shady practices. Toronto has a very ugly long-standing history of wiping out all traces of Aboriginal history and burying any evidence that it ever existed. There is plenty of archived information that proves a strong indigenous history of a vibrant and rich culture. Archived old newspaper articles cite the burial mounds in High Park and an ancient Indian tombstone — a petroglyph rock — which mysteriously disappeared during the late 1800’s when Bloor Street was put in. It seems that Toronto’s non-Native city leadership is behind burying Native history, including the burial mounds, deliberately.
The attitudes displayed by Jorge Ture, Scott Laver, Sarah Doucette, and Cheryl Hart — all of whom talked dismissively of Aboriginal history — reveal an undercurrent of prejudice thinly masked beneath a veneer of polite civility. They acted like Donna Powless, Josephine Sandy, Catherine Tammaro, and Rastia’ta’non:ha and his helper, Sean (a shy Métis kid) weren’t even there. This shows just how bigoted Toronto’s city officials and upper-middle class civic leaders are against the Aboriginal community.
After the meeting ended, Scott Laver was asked why he felt no shame for what he was demanding of the Native community and told to look three of them in the eye and explain to them why he felt no shame, he refused to answer. He did not look at the Faithkeeper. He did not look at the Clanmother. He did not look at Rastia’ta’non:ha who is one of Chief Arnie General’s helpers. He did not see these three very real human beings standing right there in front of him.
One can only conclude that comfortably off teens and adults who can afford to spend $350 – $1,500 for a bike that will only get busted up or wrapped around a tree are spoiled, self-important brats with entitlement attitudes who think their “right” to fun supersedes a threatened community’s human rights to culture.
The following Internet forum posts from the BMX crowd say a lot about the sort of group that the City of Toronto is catering to and what these BMX people really are:
“Hey! So I’m currently in the city, I have everything from Mississauga’s residential cyclist (mostly road) friendly stuff, to downtown Toronto at my disposal (short of the dirt park in High Park recently torn down by Native Mohawk “Canadian” liars, or pricks as I call them)…”
The full post by “Ghotet” can be seen at: http://www.pinkbike.com/forum/listcomments/?threadid=118755
And these posts on another BMX forum in response to “Redstone” who asked why the BMXers couldn’t pick a different spot and insisted on High Park on a Native burial mound last year. (One of the posters, “j-teeple” threatened “Redstone”): http://www.pinkbike.com/forum/listcomments/threadid=107390&pagenum=2
“I’d love to see you start moving dirt. I can honestly say you will not get too far into it without something happening. I know a LOT of people who would like to see you become part of the jumps. But I invite you to go ahead and try. Just try. You’ll see what happens…I gave you fair warning.”
Followed by this one from “recklessness”:
“I live in Toronto and would love to set up a meeting to discuss this issue rationally in person. If you want to go ahead and post your full name and address, I would be happy to drive down and mock you in person. I will even bring my shitty car because it will probably get stolen in your hood. Hell, I can even lend you a shovel because you are obviously poor.”
“Recklessness” deserves an A+ in Economics of Racism, Classism and Unearned Privilege 101. Are his parents proud of raising such a self-centered spoiled brat whose carbon footprint is larger than that of 100 poor people combined? How nice that the rest of society gets to put up with him, and all the others like him who have no consideration for anyone else because they think everything is all about them.
And the day after the High Park Resources Group meeting, this comment was posted by “Ajmckerihen” on the Pinkbike forum:
“Hello mountain bikers and BMXers, This is to inform you that the City of Toronto staff have recently closed an informal BMX freestyle area(skills park) in High Park to restore an ecologically sensitive area. The site has been replanted, fenced off and is currently being monitored for any further cycling activity. A new skills park, offering technically challenging riding in an accessible and controlled environment, will be built on the site of the existing parking lot in the south east corner of High Park. City staff are currently working with accomplished skills park designer, Jay Hoots www.hoots.ca, to develop the new site that will include appropriate off-road cycling features, skills areas and landscape amenities. Please join Jay Hoots and City of Toronto staff on Wednesday, October 19th from 6:00 – 8:30 PM, at the Rousseau Room, Swansea Town Hall, to participate in the design consultation for the new skills park in High Park. Jay wants to hear from you.”
Natural Environment Trails Program
That post says almost verbatim what was written on Scott Laver’s outline that he presented at the High Park group’s meeting on September 28th. Is “Ajmckerihen” Scott Laver? The post’s signature gives a good clue: the Natural Environment Trails Program, which Scott Laver is involved with. Following the link and perusing the site, it is interesting to note that the City of Toronto paid for a study on the feasibility of installing a bio-toilet in the park. (One must be environmentally correct in matters of defecation; but a tree-destroying, soil-eroding upper-middle class white male “sport”— well, that’s a whole other story.) It is also interesting to note the backdoor meeting scheduled for October 19th between these rich kids and the City of Toronto’s staff and policymakers.
Several attendees at the September 28th meeting voiced concerns about the BMX park provoking a conflict with the Native community.
Jerry Hodges told Laver that if he and the BMXers stubbornly go ahead with their BMX park plans it would ignite a very unpleasant confrontation with the Native community that could get very ugly, and nobody wants that. Kim Jackson of Friends of the Snake Mounds said, “I’m just shocked that there is so much concern for these BMX kids, but there is none at all for the Aboriginal community.”
It is easier to relocate the plans for a BMX park than it is to relocate a 3,000 year-old burial mound. The Native community has, over the past several decades, been forced to compromise far more than anyone else has had to but the BMXers don’t care about that. Maybe the whole BMX issue isn’t really about a sport. If it was about a place for a recreational activity, then Scott Laver would not have summarily rejected all of the reasonable suggestions of alternative sites without fully exploring them. There is only one logical conclusion: This is about a lot of beneficiaries of unearned privilege who want Aboriginal people to fade away into oblivion.
Apparently, Native culture is something they only care about so long as they can exercise total control over it by restricting it to museums. A living, breathing, vibrant Native community freely enjoying their culture and traditions — a thriving people whose human rights are equally valued and respected as everyone else’s — is anathema to many, including the BMXers. They don’t want to deal with Aboriginal people who refuse to be pushed around and relegated to the silent, stoic role of iconic wooden cigar store Indians and mascots consigned to the ash heap of Manifest Destiny.
Map of Swansea Town Hall, 95 Lavonia , Toronto On, location of meeting on Oct.19,2011 6:00 pm-8:30 pm Roseau Room with City and BMXERS.
Indiana Jones Would Not Have Done Things This Way
By Jacqueline S. Homan
On September 2009, Archeological Services, Inc. (ASI), a firm owned by de-licensed archeologist Ron Williamson, presented a 19-page report to the City of Toronto Parks & Forestry Department concerning a contested mound site in High Park known as the Snake Mounds — a site that the Iroquois community holds is an ancient burial ground dating back 3,000 years or more.
The archeological report containing obscure, abstract jargon among its litany of big words, for which a glossary of terms was conveniently omitted, was prepared by Brian Narhi, Project Historian and David Robertson, Senior Archeologist and Project Manager, Debbie Steiss (Ron Williamson’s wife), Senior Archeologist & Partner, and Andrea Carnevale, Staff Archeologist. It claims that no evidence of any artifacts were found during ASI’s field investigation of Picnic Area 7 and the Snake Mounds portion of the park commonly referred to as the “Bike Pit” where BMX dirt bike ramps were built on the contested site. The executive summary reads as follows:
“The Stage 1-2 Archeological Resources Assessment of the High Park “Bike Pit” and Picnic Area 7 has been carried out in advance of any park management activities that may result in landscape alteration in either area. The Stage 1 assessment entailed consideration of the proximity of the previously registered archeological sites, the original environmental setting of the park, and its 19th and 20th century development history. The Stage 2 assessment involved completion of test pit surveys within both areas. No archeological remains were encountered during the field investigations. Accordingly, this report recommends that the Bike Pit and Picnic Area 7 may be cleared of any further archeological concern, with the proviso that the appropriate authorities must be notified should deeply buried archeological or human remains be encountered during any future work on the property.”
There are a few major problems with this report. First, there is only the say-so of ASI that 40 test pits of a depth of 6”-10” deep each were dug throughout the site on Friday September 4th 2009 before Labor Day weekend. Curiously, the team did all of this test-pit digging within a span of three to four hours, quitting before noon — as normal for archeological field work on a Friday. What an amazing feat when you consider that no automation or machinery was employed to aid in their expedition.
Moreover, standard industry practice is that you dig until you hit clay. You don’t hit clay at 6”- 10” in Ontario, Canada. Further, no pictures document this “work.” There is only a picture of one test pit, and that one was dug on the outer perimeter of the Snake Mound in a location where nobody goes because it not conveniently accessible and it is overgrown with poison ivy.
Why would these “professionals” with their $64 million dollar vocabularies and their ability to compose lofty, intimidating word salads that merely serve to baffle the public, fail to use their impressive educations — signified by their fancy degrees commensurate with the intellectual prowess they claim to possess — choose the wrong area for their one and only test pit that was shown in the report?
Why choose the poison ivy patch on the outer region that is in a remote area where it is unlikely that anything would turn up? That leaves one wondering whether these “professionals” are really as smart and competent as they say they are. Or did they purposely choose an area for their test pit that was unlikely to support the Iroquois community’s claims of a burial site, knowing that they should have instead dug in the middle while deliberately misleading the public with their word salad that amounts to verbal fertilizer?
In their report they use terms like “Stage 1”, “Stage 2”, “flutings”, and “drumlinized” without defining them for lay people to be able to understand, even if they read it with an Oxford dictionary on hand to look up half of the jargon they used. There can be only two possible reasons for doing that. Either they want to pull the wool over everyone’s eyes to get away with something, or they want to puff themselves up with self-importance like peacocks showing off their plumage with the specific intent of belittling and disparaging the Iroquois First Nations community who advanced the claim of a historical burial site just to make the Native community look bad.
Yet, it is precisely these types of highly educated and economically successful professionals that always seem to float to the top of the socio-economic pool — just like excrement.
It takes an enormous amount of ego and shameless narcissism for privileged people to knowingly, consciously, and deliberately use their social class privileges, prestige, and advanced educations to get over on others — especially others who overwhelmingly rank among the most downtrodden in society — without any regard for their human rights; including their right to culture.
Stage 1 means doing a cursory walk-about, looking on the surface for any archeological remains on the ground. Stage 2 means doing a small, shallow test pit, digging only 6”-10” deep. Had ASI done a Stage 1 in the mounds area itself, the area where the BMX bike ramps were built, they would have found what I, myself, a volunteer, a parks department worker, and those in the First Nations community found during the week of the peace and restoration camp this past May. They would have found the large chunks of obsidian, arrowheads, the large amounts of red and yellow ochre (which are not commonly found in such large quantities as natural deposits in this area as this had to be harvested and transported from elsewhere), the bone fragment; or the marine sea shells (these were also used in some funerary rites) that are consistent with a salian coastal plane environment — not consistent with downtown Toronto, or the shores of fresh water bodies such as Lake Ontario or Lake Erie. [See more about the artifacts on the Taiaiako’n Historical Preservation Society website.]
ASI’s report refutes the claim that the Snake Mounds is an ancient burial site because, in their collective “expert” opinion, ASI’s team of archeologists think that the Snake Mound site in High Park was formed naturally by wind, water, and glacier retreat; using the term “drumlinized” to describe that.
But that doesn’t square with what others have found at the Snake Mound site. You would not find obsidian, mica, white clay, marine animal shells, or an arrowhead or a bone fragment or a piece of an ancient stone plate (commonly used in these sorts of burial mounds as a marker) in a drumlin. Nor would a drumlin have hollowed out subterranean chambers, which you can tell by walking over. Any rock or other substance left by glacial retreat in a drumlin would be consistent with those typically found in an area of glacial retreat.
So how did they miss all that?
Had these highly educated “professionals” chosen their test pit another 3-4 feet in towards the center from the outer-most rim, they would have found what we found: The first arrowhead, followed by the second arrowhead that was uncovered in the middle of the mound during the peace camp’s deconstruction of the BMX dirt bike ramps. So how did ASI’s team of “experts” miss all that? Did they deliberately want to miss it, and if so, whose interests are being served?
Owing to environmental assessments and policy, archeologists are only required to test 10% of any given site under question. How convenient that ASI picked the most obscure, outer-most region to do their test pit where you’re not likely to find anything. Coincidence?
The executive summary of their report clears the City of Toronto of any responsibility to protect the Snake Mound site, and gives the city the green light to develop that portion of the park in any way they want — including perhaps even selling off that portion of the park to wealthy private real estate developers. Who stands to benefit under that scenario, and at whose loss and expense?
Let’s be honest, shall we. It is no secret that government and a phalanx of upper-middle class highly credentialed experts serve the interests of those who have been the most enriched and who have received the most societal benefits from an entire system of unearned privileges — the sine qua non of colonialism, feudalism, and capitalism.
And it is also no secret that the winners of this same system conveniently created the rules to favor the most privileged, dismissing aboriginal people’s oral histories by only recognizing documentation including confusing and intimidating word salads that really don’t say anything or serve any function other than to uphold and perpetuate a system of unearned privileges designed to enrich a few at the expense of the many under the habiliments of “democracy.”
Snake Mound Reconstruction was started on May 13, 2011, with the help of Taiaiako’n Historical Preservation Society, Friends of Snake Mound, people from Native Canadian Centre, High Park and Junction Area residents, Students and Staff of SEE School . Niawen gowa everyone for your all of efforts in helping this to be made possible.
And then City Parks Workers destroy Centre of Snake Mound without consulting us first on June 17, 2011. Friends of Snake Mound Letters of Support
Sweetgrass and Sage Planting on June 18, 2011
And then sadness occurred at the Snake Mound during the night, when a group of sick people gathered and held an occult ritual at the Mound, damaging the green ash tree, leaving the traces of their evil deeds behind. They also practiced animal cruelty by beating a chipmunk to death, singing its tail, and cutting off two black squirrel tails.
Sadness on June 18, 2011 when we found the dead chipmunk, squirrel tails, and tree damaged… On Sunday, June 26, 2011 we took our own action and re-constructed the inner circle, replanted a sweetgrass plant that had been pulled up by the bmxers and we also placed protection around the site with some of our medicines and sealed the wounds on the tree in the centre of circle. We repaired the cuts in the fence for the 5th time, as bmxers had been still riding on the site as we found their traces of tire tracks on both Saturday , June 18 & Sunday, June 26, 2011. Today, June 28, 2011 it was verified by one of our site monitors, that the city was installing the new permanent fence . Pictures to follow after the weekend of the new fence.
Contrary to what others are saying, this is only the beginning, as our work to preserve and protect the sacred sites in High Park is no where near finished. We are also glad that Blu has confirmed that she is with us and still supporting the work of THPS in preserving and protecting the sacred sites in High Park. She has been a great help with her support and efforts to involve as many people as possible. Niawen gowa Blu and everyone!
** Mica , White Clay, Yellow Ochre, Red Ochre, and the Mound Plate with the Snake Mound carved in a pyramid like stone w/quartz all found along the new fence row on Sunday, July 10, 2011. More burial chambers have been located at Snake Mound. It’s apparent that the construction of the new fence has weakened the burial chambers because of much soil disturbance and loosening of the soil. In some areas the posts may have been driven right into the burial chambers. This will need further verification by non-intrusive testing, which will verify the presence of the burial chambers.
Ochre is often associated with human burials. Similar terms for ochre seen in scholarly records are ferrous oxide or iron oxide, limonite, hematite, red ochre and yellow ochre. Ochre comes in a variety of colors, from brown to red to yellow; and interestingly enough, it does change color under circumstances. Red ochre is associated with sesquioxide of iron (i.e., it forms in areas where the soil is well-drained), while the yellow ochre (called limonite or goethite) is hydrated iron oxide (i.e., where iron was allowed to freely combine with water). Yellow or brown ochre can turn to red as the mineral picks up water and converts to hematite. Ochre is very common on archaeological sites world-wide, and it is generally assumed to be a coloring agent. Often associated with religious ceremonies and burials.
* Please note the Clanmothers who have visited the site on July 3, 2011, feel that the new fence is not high enough to keep the bmxers out of the site. The new fence is only 4 ft high and the site can still be easily accessed.
Everyone Welcome to our first Snake Mound Gathering of the Spring/Summer season:
Map to Snake Mound:
SAVE THE HIGH PARK BURIAL MOUNDS upcoming event
Local residents have come together to form the Friends of Snake Mound and together with the Taiaiako’n Historical Preservation Society are celebrating the coming of Spring and gearing up for a Summer of work at Snake Mound with this very important community event. Please come and show your support and pay respects to members of the Six Nations who will be present, and share their time and knowledge with us on this important issue.
Press Release: Serpent Mound Brochure
Information Pamphlet: HPM press release
Dance for the Ancestors at Snake Mound on, Saturday, November 06, 2010 @ 10:00 am. See you there!
October 23, 2010
The Ogii:Wii, Feast for the Ancestors at Bear Mound was beautiful. About forty or fifty people joined the Taiaiako’n Historical Preservation Society for this timely ceremony. At one point at there were about 80 people who took part in the pipe ceremony. We had wonderful songs and drumming, stories shared, and feasting.
UPDATE FROM FEAST FOR THE ANCESTORS ( Ogii:wii) , held Saturday, October 23,2010 @ 12:00 pm.
|From Two Feathers Down:skennen gowa jagadehgah,ohio bob parins stated that all went well. four people were at the drum backed up by another group in washington state, names unknown. several from the public participated. they were not allowed to build a fire but offered tobacco and smoked pipe. at end of ceremony a yound bald eagle flew over, picking up the prayers to creator. ohio bob thinks if we do this same thing next year we should move to a medicine wheel in this same mound region of old origin. many thanks to all at serpent mound ohio. many others in the west also prayed and reported great things happened. giving protection and harmony. much thanks for prayer coming from wisconsin, mounds.myself and three more gathered for pray lodge run by swift buckskin horse, old time sundancer and grandpa. also two newbees came to lodge. three pipes and much tobacco burned. i must say it was a great lodge, and the prayers went out. i was also told of another group in tennessee that formed to pray names unknown.the east door had some trouble with expected attendance. several drummers could not make it because of work and other emergencies, however ray johnson reported four people using big drum and hand drums. they felt the prayers were heard and good things coming. feast and fire was great. it is good to honor the ancestors in unity. ray gave much thanks for the honor.gigageu galvlou/ micheal redsky conducted a lodge in new york, hudson river. i will send you his email when i receive it. i like the location.|
to the many that stood where they were at or went to a special place the numbers were considerable that gave a moment of prayer and honor to the ancestors many with fire and tobacco. thanks people
i believe the ancestors heard and felt our love. i hope healing (bear) and protection (wolf) now surrounds the mounds and those that work that volunteer job. to me it was one of those great days that will be remembered.
peace love honor and respect
two feathers down/bee man
From Cedar Heart:
Us at the Thunderbird mound had an incredible day filled with magic and good medicine…the ancestors are in peace, Mother Earth had been nurished….I am happy
Water Ghost Woman
…Rick reported from Tabor Hill that all went well and that about 20-25 who participated. He stated that the fire department showed up and circled around the mound 3 times but did not bother them.
Bob Parins in Ohio stated that he had contacted the Serpent Mounds before the ceremony and got verbal permission from a woman to have sacred fire at the Serpent Mound. When he arrived, there is a permanent fire pit located near the pavilion with s supply of wood. Bob began to start the fire for ceremony in the fire pit that he thought they could use. A park manager came out and stopped them from having sacred fire and stated that they could not have a fire there. *** This is a violation of the Native American Religious Freedom Act of 1976 and our treaty rights to have access to our sacred sites for ceremony at any time. This parks manager needs some education on Native rights.
We also had some interference from the Bird Watchers at Bear Mound, as they called the police and fire dept on us. A Sgt. Costos of Div. 11 showed up and was going to call in more police forces to stop us because he was told that we only had a permit for burning sweetgrass! How absurd! It was a good thing we had a permit from the City stating that it was for a fire pit, which we provided, and not for just burning sweetgrass. After Sgt Costos saw the permit, he called off the other police force that he radioed for. He stated he would just hang around to monitor us to make sure that there would be no trouble as there has been down at the Snake Mound.
The ceremony began on time at the Bear Mound, despite an attempt to stop it. As soon as the drums played which, there 10 drums there, Sgt. Kostos took off. A red tailed hawk circled above us at the Bear Mound during our ceremony.
Later when speaking to Water Ghost Woman, she informed us that Sgt. Costos had showed up at the Thunderbird Mound with an entirely different attitude. He offered his assistance and Water Ghost Woman invited him to come and be a part of the ceremony. Very positive outcome in turning someone who had negative intentions at the Bear Mound, and he in the end was more respectful of our ceremonies.
These are just a few of the many positive experiences from this years ceremony. And people are already talking about next years ceremony and how they can work to build unity!
At various locations across Turtle Island we have received positive reports and only a couple of incidents with local authorities, that need to be addressed to ensure that these incidents do not happen again at our sacred sites.
Niawen gowa ancestors, elders and the many people across Turtle Island… Much positive change will now occur for all of humanity.
We will be meeting at the Snake Mound on Sunday, October 17, 2010 @12, to finalize the ceremony on October 23, 2010, and to be there to monitor the site. It will be nice day, and we hope to see many of you there.
Niawen skenon! Oneh! In peace,
Rastia’ta’non:ha,Onǫdowa’ ga:’ Otahyo:ni:
Director Täiäiäkó’n Historical Preservation Society
An Ogii:wii (Feast for the Ancestors) will be held on October 23rd at the Bear Mound in High Park
poster by: Catherine Tammaro@Tammaro Art Design
The ceremony begins at 12:00 noon sharp. The location is just north of Grenadier Cafe in the Maple grove just below Bear Mound (called Hawk Hill by High Park)
Everyone is Welcome, bring food, drums and shakers….
This ceremony will be held concurrently with ceremonies at other sites across Ontario and into the United States. These sites form a line across that landscape and are a part of the energetic web of the medicine wheel.
We received this email from Two Feathers Down/Bee Man, Mingo, Wolf Clan from Kentucky as he working hard to mobilize people south of the imaginary line about the ceremony on October 23, 2010 and the mounds issue in High Park:
|eh skennen gonwa/aninn/osiyo qriginal people,I apologize for not getting this info out sooner but my plate has been full, however it seems like everything is being accomplished ok. The purpose of asking everyone who desires to join in prayer during this ceremony on 23 oct at high noon is to ask for a healing change for the mounds in high park, toronto, canada. If you would also mention rastia’ta’non:ha (res-tea-a-da-noon-ha) and ask for help to come to him that he needs. That will cause positive outcome. There has been threats and hostilities that came close to killing or injuring one of the women that has so diligently guarded these mounds along with several other dedicated people. Once the destruction of these mounds has come to a halt there will be a great need of many things that will recover and protect these mounds. Some type of vegetation will be needed to grow under white oaks that will keep the erosion from causing more continued destruction. Replacement of the soil that has already disappeared will be needed. The people (they call themselves the high park boys) that are causing the destruction needs a change of heart (in a good way) that would make them aware of the problems they are causing. Hoping they will join in with the protection and help fix the problems they have caused. The city officials and police need to join in with and have earnest attitudes and desires to protect the history and sacred grounds that are now under their city limits. Our Ohio grounds are a match to these mounds in Toronto. What has come to me while working with Rastia’ta’non:ha is if we can unite over this problem, later we will be able to unite over much greater problems. This unity will go on to the seventh generation and further.The attachments on Rastia’ta’non:ha’s high park efforts will give info on how to be involved in Toronto, the north door. at the Serpent Mound in Ohio, Bob Parin will have the big drum there.(740 332 0334) . Please contact him for the west door efforts. The south door will be handled by Swift Buckskin Horse with a lodge at his house. For directions to his house call me at 606 237 4692. The east door will be handled by Ray Johnson, snake clan in eastern pa. His contact number is 717 983 0836. please do not wait until the 23 rd to get directions because most of us will be unreachable at that time. If you cannot make these doors, then I ask you to step outside build a little fire, say your prayers and place your tobacco in the fire, accompanied with a spirit feast.. pipes and lodges from every where are requested and desired. For the ones that walk on other paths, please say a prayer in your way at this time. Any questions concerning this ceremony can be directed to me through email until 21 Oct. let us unite in prayer for this effort in peace love and harmony.Two Feathers Down/Bee Man
The Thunderbird Mound ǫeremony will be handled by Water Spirit Woman in conjunction with the ceremony at the Bear Mound and Tabor Hill as well as other sacred sites.
Here is a map of the area where the Thunderbird Mound for those who like top attend the ceremony there across the street from 2 Varsity Lane, Toronto, On.
Tue, 12 Oct 2010 13:07:28 -0400
I got a hold of Dan Murnahan, and gave him an update, on our findings at the Snake Mound. He stated that everything else is on hold currently, outside of the maintenance of the signs, the barricade, and making sure that the police are being consistent.
I informed him that the bikers are still determined to use the site for illegal biking purposes, and building more ramps, as we found a camping shovel hidden in the bushes on Saturday. I informed him that 31+ bikers tried to access the site on Saturday afternoon and the police were called. The police did show up in 5 minutes after they were called and chase the remaining group down that tried to come into the Mound area.
I also let Dan know that the there is a sign and a half up right now. He also was told that the bikers have been coming in the evening to re-build and build more ramps.
I informed Dan the police have not been consistent in enforcing the by-law as they promised and it is sending the wrong message to the bikers.
He stated he would get in touch with Helen Sousa, Kevin Bowsher, Jortge Toure, and Sgt. Anders of Div 11.
The other man that was with him from the parks that day on August 28 was Peter Lees.
He stated he would get Jorge to go down and fix the barricades to make it harder for them to be tipped over, and put up more new signs. He appreciated the follow up and asked that we keep in touch with him with any new developments.
October 3, 2010
We feasted at the Snake Mound in celebration of our new meeting place which had been disrupted over the week and was in need of minor re-building. After we finished that we cleaned up a lot of litter that was around; since we clean every week what was there was only one weeks worth. Again there were beer cans and this time some drug paraphernalia. The only “No Cycling” sign that remains is now been torn in half, and has “Only” written above the symbol of the cyclist. We discussed how the city and police haven’t kept their side of the agreement that was made on August 28th and we are now in the process of drafting them a letter encouraging them to open up lines of communication with the Taiaiako’n Historical Preservation Society so we can continue to work in a co-ordinated way to protect the site.
September, 25 2010
Niawen gowa to Lauri, Adrian, Liza Kim, her friend from BC, and Rick for their hard work today in moving the heavy oak logs around to create a ceremonial place at the Snake Mound and also to help deter bikers from continuing to use area illegally.
We also put the barricades back up and while we there managed to stop several groups of bikers from coming into use the site today for illegal biking purposes.
Next Sunday, Oct. 03, 2010 @ 11:30 am, we will gathering for ceremony and feast at the Snake Mound.
Hope to see you there!
Rastia’ta’non:ha, Onǫdowá́́’ ga:’ Otahyǫ́:ni:
Director Täiäiäkó’n Historical Preservation Society
September 18th, 2010
Again people gathered at the Snake Mound to keep an eye on how effective the signs and fences have been.
September 12, 2010
There was a call out this past week-end to gather again at Snake Mound to see how the site was being managed and if the vandalized signs had been replaced. I could hear the drumming underway as I approached the site as it carries across the pond to the walkway along the bottom of the park.
What we found: one damaged sign has been removed and the other that was bent over has been further defaced and bent. There only remains one sign with the clear prohibition on biking stated however this is off the Snake Mound site. However, the Parks Board has put up heavy duty fencing across the trials leading to the Snake Mound. While this is effective visually, the cyclists are able to get around them with their bikes and new ramps have been built and fresh bicycle tracks are in evidence everywhere.
There was a brilliant blue Fall sky with big clouds passing over, and the sun dappled through the trees: it is a truly special place to be. Song and ceremony unfolded in the moment followed by a sharing of thoughts and feelings as to how to proceed with the struggle to protect and maintain connection to the Mounds.
September 4, 2010
We gathered at Snake Mound to see if the signs had been put up as promised.
It’s been a long hot summer, to say the least. As things are heating up on the Indigenous Peoples front worldwide about the situation in High Park. Various media sources have now seen first handed the destruction in the Snake Mound area. The City TV camera man stated he had been to the site 2 years and he fell and hurt himself badly and had not returned until last Saturday when he did his interview with us.
After our meeting with police, parks officials one of which was sent on Kevin Bowshers behalf and almost 2 hrs of discussion with about 35 supporters, the steps that were going to taken was to firstly have signs put by the end of this week, and the police would enforce the by-law. It was noted by one of our active supporters, that no signs had been up when he was there on Wednesday. The signs were either put up on Thursday or Friday. We noticed the first bolted to the black, stating ” No Biking Permitted,” then as we walked in at first another sign, Stated, “Bicycling Allowed,” then a third sign post on another stump, stating the same as the fist sign ” No Cycling permitted,” and that sign had already been bent to cover the wording so that it seemed like from a distance Biking was allowed. We did call the police to alert of damages done to the new signs, obviously done by the bikers. The police had asked us to report this back you about the damages done, and it looks like the one sign and the no biking symbol removed. Niawen gowa for showing some faith steps forward in resolving this issue with you people.
The police are also aware that the bikers have been there at night to dig and alter the sight, as there has been ramp building done since last Saturday.
Niawen skenon! Oneh!
- defaced sign
Progress with the Parks Board at High Park
Early Saturday morning on August 28, 2010, the Taiaiako’n Historical Preservation Society along with elders, Six Nations community members, alongside community members of the High Park/Junction neighborhoods gathered to repair Snake/Serpent Mound which has been degraded by cyclists who have built a bmx jump ramp.
Surprisingly officials from the Toronto Parksboard and a police officer were waiting for us when we arrived at 8am; it seems that the police are watching the facebook pages of some of our group. What ensued was a lengthy discussion as to what was to happen both that day and into the future of the site. The Parks board does not as yet recognize the Indigenous significance of the site. Speakers from the Six Nations eloquently and passionately tried to give them understanding of how it feels to have the graves of ones ancestors desecrated, and to have ones word and the words of the Clan Mothers disrespected as to the significance of this site. The approach of western science that thinks if it doesn’t see it, it doesn’t exist, is an affront to those whose traditional knowledge and science maintains an ancient connection to this burial site.
Through much discussion the Parks Board officials agreed to post signs that enforce the by-laws that state that there is to be no cycling off paths and no digging in the parks by Friday, September 3. They agreed that removal of the signs by cyclists was a problem and that, therefor, they would maintain them. They said that the bicycle police will monitor the site. They agreed to keep in communication with the Taiaiako’n Historical Preservation Society as to the repair of the site, and an independent archeological assessment. After an environmental assessment is done (which is currently underway), if the site is deemed sensitive a fence will be put up. In turn we agreed to not do any digging or repairing of the Mounds for now contingent on their following through with their promises.
We proceeded then to the Snake/Serpent Mound for a ceremony and to talk, sing, feast and get to know each other a bit. We agreed that this was the start of a solid group to work on these issues.
Later in the day some cyclists showed up. We called out to them to join us but they were reluctant. After a rather tense discussion with two cyclists we seemed to come to a bit of an understanding. Police arrived and also spoke to the cyclists and they went away. It was the first time that the police actually enforced the by-law, so that was really good. We then continued to sing and talk, until the ancestors were content.
Ramps Looking North
- This is looking west from the top of the highest jump; the damage is evident. South entrance at the left of the picture.
I loaded this picture on so that viewers could see the extent of the damage. The log at the centre left of the picture has been attacked at the higher end by people using shovels as axes. The wood chips are not evident from this picture, but they are there. Eentually, those using the shovels will cause the log to roll south into the deeper part of the pit.
It will probably be a lesson in applied physics, redundant upon completion.
My Two Cents
I was with the group on Saturday. We were met by the police, who were quite stern, I thought, especially since we said that we were going to follow up.
The sergeant I spoke with, in front of the group, made me feel as though I was the criminal in the enterprise, for standing up for an argument to do with social preservation.
I underlined the fact that we were peaceful and that we were committed to seeing the right thing done by the land. In response, we were told that we might be trespassed and that it was illegal to take pictures of minors.
The point I am making is that out of the gate, we seem to have hit one snag after another. One member pointed out, quite rightly as I thought, that we expected the same vigilance for us that the police were showing for the ‘minors’.
I noticed during our episode at the site that the oak trees which were the tallest were swaying quite markedly in the wind. I also had a branch crash down onto the north slope beside me as I was looking at the plants on the perimeter.
What frustrates me the most is that the vandals seem to already have had their way with the signs. One alleged vandal has been posting unsavoury comments on the blogto site; I was sent a preceis of the comments made.
Give the adult bikers time. They will turn violent…I can see it in the writing that I read on the blogto posts. I had one person who was critical of my naturalist stance say, “Hey Rhodes, F**k off.” That kind of says it all about their viewpoints and what they are willing to do to enforce their encroachment on public land.
In any case, we have seen that the bikers are willing to break the law to enforce their ends. My question is, “When the bikers have finished with the site and the soil has washed through the fence, will they re-build the mound, or will they choose another location in the Park?”
I think we know the answer to that one. It remains to be seen if the bikers are going to try a counter-move. Remember, the area is protected by an ANSI status; it is ESA #114 and it has been recommended to be fenced off. This has not happened.
We’ll continue observing and take our victories where we can find them. Next: to see the signs and that they are replaced; to get hold of the environmental assessment when it is completed; to get the area cordoned off and then rehabilitated.
Continuing the struggle,
As one might expect, throughout the history of this land, the greater Toronto area was home to several Nations of Indigenous Peoples, namely the Erie/Neutral (Erie: “people of the Cat Nation”), and evidence of their village life still remain in some areas. Most of these sites have been destroyed from the developments of the city during the past two centuries; however, some sites still remain intact. When they bcame uncovered, and are rediscovered either by passers-by or by construction crews, archaeologists and Indigenous Peoples are to be contacted and consulted.
In High Park, fifty seven such mounds have been identified. These are not village sites; they are burial mound sites. Burial Mound Earthworks were built by the Erie/Neutral and Iroquois as by their predecessors the Hopia (Hopewell). The Anishnabe were a group of northern Indigenous peoples who were nomadic and did not traditonally live on land that would support building earthworks, as they lived north of the Canadian shield.
Two sites in particular are quite outstanding, but for different reasons. One is exposed and unprotected by vegetation, and so is easily viewed and accessed, and therein lies the problem (Bear Mound Complex): because it is not naturally protected, it is open to wear and tear from pedestrian traffic. The Province of Ontario, through the Ministry of culture, has deemed it an archaeological site (AjGu-45), in 2003. Another one of the other 56 sites, has been almost totally destroyed due to off-road bike enthusiasts, who unwittingly and illegally created an off road bike jump course at the southeastern corner of the park on the Snake/Serpent Mound.