Citizens of Oklahoma continue to dig for information about the destruction of archeological sites and historical structures, although it looks like the moguls behind the Keystone XL pipeline do not want us to know which sites are scheduled to be bulldozed so that a Canadian company can sell oil to China, Europe and South America.
It seems that it was Bob Blackburn, in his role as Oklahoma’s “Historic Preservation Officer”, who signed the paperwork to let TransCanada bulldoze 71 of our archeological sites and 22 historical structures.
Today I asked Melvina Heisch, a division head a the Oklahoma State Historical Preservation Society, if the public could get a list of the archeological sites and historical structures that Bob Blackburn has agreed to let TransCanada destroy. She would not volunteer a single iota of specific information. She did say, however, that she would send me information on how to legally demand the data from them.
I also spoke with Alex Yuan at the US Department of State. He too refused to give me the list. He said they keep this information under wraps to keep collectors from pillaging the sites. I said,
“Do you mean you will let a foreign company bulldoze the sites, but you won’t let local citizens even know where they are?”
He tried to refer me to the government website, but admitted that it does not have the exact descriptions and locations of the sites. He does think that it might be possible to get the information if we can show that we have a legitimate reason for wanting the info. He suggested that we contact our state representatives and ask them to try to get it for us. I ask him if they would give the information to the Sierra Club, and he did not answer that question.
I have submitted a Freedom of Information Request asking for all correspondence and other documentation regarding TransCanada and the Oklahoma State Historical Preservation Society, but my dear Uncle Sam can drag his feet if he does not want to.
Oklahoma law governing the Historical Society considers information and maps about archaeological sites to be public as long as there is no risk that the sites will be tampered with in any way (as in if they feel there is a risk you will enter the property and remove things, they aren’t telling you anything). The majority of property involved here is private property and the information about it is considered private. Texas law goes a bit further than Oklahoma law does. It actually says flat out that the information about archeological sites is not public and will not be publicly released… During the survey process, they even identified new archeological finds that were previously unreported. I think it said seven of them.
Citizens are urged to:
1. Call your county commissioner about the 200,000 pound lime green TransCanada trucks that are headed our way.
2. Call your Senator and Representative about helping us get this vital information.
3. If you are a member of a tribe, contact your tribal council.
Melvina Heishch’s phone number: (405) 522-4484
Alex Yuan’s phone number: (202) 647-4284.
It would be interesting in somebody decided to occupy Bob Blackburn’s world.