Ongoing Disagreement

Still, the Minnstar spokesman did not totally believe the Dakota people's claims that the land is sacred to them. He believed that they wanted to build on the land themselves and suspected that they only wanted to oppose this development to keep the land available for their own financial gain. He also claimed that the Dakota became interested in the land only after other parties began proposing developments. He argued that if the land was actually important to them, they would have tried to buy the land while it sat on the market for twelve years. However, Scott adamantly denied any wishes on the part of the Dakota to make money off the site and explained that the Dakota did not try to buy the land simply because they did not have the financial resources to bid on it.

"It’s like dropping one drop of water into a glass of water."-Michael Scott

Furthermore, Scott explained that the sacredness of the burial ground cannot be reduced to the presence of bones in the earth. He understood the whole bluff to be sacred in the same way a burial mound is sacred. He believed his ancestors are “in the dirt” regardless of the removal of bones from the site, due to the decomposition of their flesh and bone fragments. Moreover, even if the soil where his ancestors had decomposed had indeed been removed from the bluff to build the cemetery and the highway, he still felt his ancestors were in the bluff. He explained, “It’s like dropping one drop of water into a glass of water.” Once his ancestors were buried in Oheyawahi, the entire bluff and even the spot on the earth on which the mound sits became sacred, regardless of which parts may have been altered or removed.

"It would be really, really hurtful inside. It would tear me up inside."-Michael Scott

Finally, the Minnstar spokesman emphasized the rights of the landowners to get a return on their investment. He asked how a privately owned plot of land could be declared unusable without scientific evidence. His argument rests on the deep seeded American belief in the importance of private property rights. This perspective contrasts with that of the Mendota Mdewakanton Dakota Community (MMDC), which does not consider property rights to outweigh their religious and cultural rights to maintain the sacredness of the land and to continue to perform religious rituals on the bluff. When asked what would happen if the land were developed, Scott replied, “It would be really, really hurtful inside. It would tear me up inside.”