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Lewes, Delaware
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November 27, 1998     Cape Gazette
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November 27, 1998

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Island Continued from page 1 coke, it was a horribly awful thing to see and absolutely impossible to ignore." Clark, who fasted for two days prior to his vision quest and pre- pared nearly 500 small prayer bundles to use during the spiritual retreat, said he received a dream vision during his stay on the is- land and that vision told him to stop this destruction of the graves and protect the cemetery where for many centuries Native Ameri- cans buried their dead. "To us, the dead are not power- less," Clark explained this week. "Their greater power is keeping eyes on what has been happening at Thompson Island. And my dream told me that the spirits of those people are not happy with the way that sacred land has been desecrated." It was equally appalling to Clark and a vision quest comPan- ion that when they arrived at the island about midnight, April 13, to begin their spiritual mission, they were met by gunfire from a group of teenagers who were partying around a huge bonfire on the state-owned island. "We announced ourselves to the group and we were fired upon," .Clark related. "It was serious; we were pinned down and bullets were smashing into the trees and branches above us. Two hours lat- er, police and enforcement offi- cers from the Department of Nat- ural Resources and Environmental Control arrived and arrested eight young peaple. They were ulti- mately charged with littering on state park land. It was an absurd injustice, we felt, but it illustrates just how little the establishment cares about sacred Native Ameri- can cultural sites." Clark and the Nanticoke tribal council decided after that incident to pursue the issue of how to pro- tect the Thompson Island ceme- tery, and they began by asking of- ficials of the state Division of Parks and Recreation to stop al- lowing public access to the island, for whatever reason. By late summer, Clark said the tribe had not been given any firm response from state park officials, so he took the issue to state Sen. George H. Bunting Jr., D-Bethany Beach, and to Gov. Tom Carper, hoping for some help. A subse- quent guided tour of the cemetery site gave Bunting and executive office staffers an understanding of the concern the Nanticokes hold for the state' s handling of Thomp- son Island. "This is a spiritual thing for the Nanticokes," Bunting said recent- ly. "They have entered into a dia- logue with the state. The island is a very difficult area to access, but I know it is a big concern to the Nanticoke tribe; hopefully we can work everything out." Those talks accomplished something good from the start, Clark said, as parks and recreation officials agreed to suspend normal activities at the island by placing a moratorium this season on deer bunting (the only bunting previ- ously permitted on the island) and by discouraging public access to a nature trail that the state maintains there. But Clark said more needs to be done and discussions with state of- ficials continue in an attempt to CAPE at Island Field Site in Kent Coun- ty," Clark said. "We were success- ful in having the 1987 Human Re- mains Act put on the books, mak- ing it unlawful to desecrate Native American graves in Delaware. But here we are fighting the same is- sue again. The state must do its part to protect that cemetery. It's the law and the morally right thing to do. We can't understand why ensure the long-range protection the state doesn't agree with us." of the cemetery. But he added that he is "sadly skeptical" that his tribe's request for caretaker con- trol of the cemetery will be grant- ed. "Eleven years ago, our tribe protested the way Native Ameri- can remains were being unearthed What the Nanticoke Tribe would like to see happen, says Clark, is for Delaware to give his tribe caretaker responsibilty for all of the 65-acre Thompson Island. Short of that, he says, the Nanti- cokes want caretaker control of Continued on page 14 GAZETTE, Friday, November 27 - December 3, 1998 - 13 Angie Moon photo Driftwood sits in the quiet morning light of the Lewes-Re- hoboth Canal at Thompson Island. BE00/E00R 'S presents Uniq00 e Gift Ideas Storewide :i o you and your& i Our wi00she00s for:"i t.he I-IappiesL Of ll I-Iolidays and the Dromise of Deace m i the Upcomm S New Year. -Nan & Dde gellinBer Wouldn't you like a Bellinger" s Black Bag under your tree? 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