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Onondaga Nation of New York

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Residents of Jack's Reef, a central New York hamlet, are waiting on a pipeline to save them from pungent, red-tinged well water. But it's not clear how long they will wait. Construction of the $1.6 million water line to bring more than 270 residents clean, usable water from Otisco Lake is opposed by the nation which says the nine-mile water line would rip through unmarked graves of their ancestors. "There is a very high probability of disturbing historical and ancient Onondaga village sites, seasonal fishing sites, and burial sites,'' nation attorney Joe Heath said. "This project clearly can't move ahead until this issue is resolved.'' Hundreds of years ago, Onondaga Indians lived along the big bend in the Seneca River, 15 miles west of Syracuse, where Jack's Reef is located. Decades ago, archaeologists found evidence of Native American occupation at 13 unmarked sites "in or adjacent to'' the area where the towns of Elbridge, Lysander and Van Buren plan to lay the pipes. "It's felt at this point by our engineers that there's no significant impact for any known Indian site,'' Lysander Supervisor Barry Bullis said. Heath said the nation's chiefs will attempt to block construction if it will disturb ancient burial grounds or villages.

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