Pipeline Expansion in Northeast Threatens Tribe’s Ceremonial Land

By Yessenia Funes May 11, 2017

The Narragansett Indian Tribe is accusing the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) of violating federal law in approving expansion to an already existing pipeline system in New York, Massachusetts and Connecticut without first meaningfully consulting with the tribe’s Historic Preservation Office.

FERC approved a notice April 12 for Kinder Morgan, the energy company behind the Connecticut Expansion Project, to proceed with tree clearing and construction in Massachusetts’ Otis State Forest, where the Rhode Island-based tribe holds ceremonial stone landscapes. The tribe petitioned the federal office May 9 for a rehearing on this notice.

MassLive.com reports on this issue that:

Although the Narragansett Tribe is in Rhode Island, it has "extraterritorial authority" over the land in the Berkshires because of "deep ties" to ceremonial stone landscapes there, the tribe’s petition states.

“These are ‘prayers in stone,’” said Doug Harris, the tribe’s deputy historic preservation officer, in a press release. “If you take them apart and reconfigure them, then what you have is an artistic replica of something that was spiritual. Once you remove the stones, the spiritual content is broken.”

However, the company says that it did consult participating tribes, the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation and FERC to mitigate any impacts resulting from this construction. While the tribe is using the Historic Preservation Act to petition FERC, Kinder Morgan says it does comply with the federal law.

So far, Massachusetts State Police has arrested 24 people who have been protesting the pipeline, reports WAMC Northeast Public Radio.