The Blood Tribe Land Management has begun an improvement project of the 5 major cemeteries on the reserve. As you may be aware many of the main Tribal Cemeteries are in dire need of improvement to honor our departed family members. There is currently no custodial caretaker of the cemeteries, and the landscaping conditions are beyond substandard. It will take a collaboration of multiple tribal department to bring the conditions to a respectable level. The end goal is to have our cemeteries appeasing to the eye and to bring us a sense of peace when we bury a family member.
This end goal will have to come in three major phases. Phase I – GPS Data Collection of the visible locations and names of the deceased, and then plotting the locations accurately in GIS mapping. Phase II – Completing the data collection of the locations and names of the deceased that were not visible in phase one data collection by help of the Blood Tribe public. Phase III – Will be the leveling of burial mounds, and finally the landscaping and maintenance of the cemetery grounds. It is not know at this time who will take over in Phase III, and in taking the responsibility of maintaining the collected burial records of the first two phases. Phase III, but Phase I and II is now underway by the lead of the Blood Tribe Land Management.
The Blood Tribe Land Management’s Geomatics Mapping Division who initiated this project is now near the completion of Phase I in the tribe’s cemetery beautification project. Over the last few years much GPS data has been collected mapping the cemetery burial points. The task of mapping the burial points was jump started in June 2017 when the Geomatics Division dedicated the term of their BTEST summer student (Gina Chief Body) to the beautification project. In the first stage of Phase I, all of the field data collection by GPS has now been completed for these cemeteries: Old Agency, Standoff (St Catherine’s), St Mary’s (Blood Band), Levern, St Paul’s. Data collected by GPS includes but is not limited to: Name, DOB, DOD, Headstone or none, and field notes. Phase I being limited to visible graves with names or tags, headstones, and monuments. Finally a drone was used for added overhead imagery and ground elevations in finely placing our GPS Data. Unfortunately about a third of the cemetery burial sites do not have a readable marker or are not unrecognizable due to time and slumping over time. This is the start the next phase.
The Blood Tribe Land Management will be asking for the assistance of the Blood Tribe public now in the next phase. We will be organizing days with the public in each of the main cemetery’s. Lands can provide flagging stakes, markers and paper, for volunteers who wish to mark the burial locations of their deceased family members. Name, DOB, DOD, Notes can be written on the papers for BTLM to add to the mapping and enter information into the database. Lands will also be providing coffee and refreshments on these day soon to be scheduled. Together we can fill in much of the missing burial locations and names of the Blood Reserves cemeteries. The schedule for data collection will be as follows:
(Tentatively two weeks after release in News Letters)
September 4 – 7: St Pauls Cemetery (1-4pm)
September 10 – 14: St Mary’s Cemetery (1-4pm)
September 17 – 21: Lavern Cemetery (1-4pm)
September 24 – 28: Standoff Cemetery (1-4pm)
Old Agency is current for information
In closing, there was once records of the burial plot plans held by the Catholic Church. Decades ago this plot plan was taken by an unknown public program, who was to take over the records and care taking of the cemeteries. Sadly, the whereabouts of these burial plot plans is not known. If anyone has any information of the whereabouts of these burial plans this information is urgently required to determine the accurate burial locations of loved ones long since departed.
Jonathon Day Chief
Blood Tribe Land Management