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Indybay FeatureRelated Categories: Central Valley | Racial Justice
Army Corps publishes Mormon Island Relocation Cemetery Files ~ just not for too long...
The authentic primary source documentation, once again is hidden. Fundamental documents that pre-date and provides authorization for construction of Folsom Dam remains "unavailable." The current pubic works project to retrofit Folsom Dam is a multi-billion dollar notion over many years to come... yet, allocation to share authentic history of Negro Hill and the surrounding region is far too difficult. U.S. and California Historic Preservation clearly does not apply to people of African Ancestry in Gold Rush California. Mormon Island Relocation Cemetery is a living example of ongoing systemic institutional racism and probable hate crimes against humanity. The 150th Anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation in Historic Negro Hill, California established in 1848 may provide a spark to bring truth to light.
Release no. 11-010
dede.cordell [at] usace.army.mil
SACRAMENTO, Calif. – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Sacramento District has published its files related to its relocation in 1954 of 13 cemeteries and private burial plots to the Mormon Island Relocation Cemetery during the construction of Folsom Dam.
Among the relocated graves were those of 36 unknown settlers, likely buried between 1850 and 1870, interred at Negro Hill Cemetery. Their graves at Mormon Island Relocation Cemetery were marked with new headstones which identify the original cemetery by another, deeply offensive slur. Nothing in available U.S. Army Corps of Engineers records indicates why the more offensive term was used, but it is the primary reference in all relevant official project documents, including the relocation plan, project maps, contracts and deeds.
All Corps files related to the relocation of Negro Hill Cemetery are available here: http://www.spk.usace.army.mil/NegroHillCemetery.html The records were located in response to a Freedom of Information Act request filed by the Associated Press in April.
"We are deeply ashamed and regretful to find this word in our records, and for having perpetuated a hateful, racist word that has no place in public discourse," said Sacramento District commander, Lt. Col. Andrew Kiger.
"Our hearts tell us these grave markers should be replaced," Kiger said. "But we recognize and respect the ongoing discussion among community members and historians about their historical accuracy, and about finding the best way to address the offense and hurt they continue to cause."
Though the Corps has no known legal ability to participate as an agency in changing these grave markers, "We are, however," Kiger said, "an agency of service-oriented and caring people, many of whom have already said they would volunteer their time to help make this right. In whatever way we can possibly contribute to the solution, we faithfully promise and intend to do so."