The tribe is trying to halt an archaeological dig at the site of a 17th century settlement where American Indian and French settlers once lived. It contends the research team from Michigan State University is showing disrespect for what many American Indians consider sacred ground in St. Ignace, an Upper Peninsula town on the Straits of Mackinac, where Lakes Huron and Michigan converge. Missionary Jacques Marquette, a Jesuit priest, founded the village in 1671. Some tribal members complained the student workers smoked in the pit, wore heavy boots that could have crushed artifacts and did not show proper deference to their surroundings. "They're kind of happy-go-lucky kids, a lot of horsing around, and some people took offense to that," tribal attorney Aaron Schlehuber said. The tribal board of directors voted June 5 to ask the city to stop the excavation, Schlehuber said. "It was an overall lack of respect, a lack of knowledge of how we believe and feel," said Cecil Pavlat, the tribe's cultural repatriation specialist. The team began in May looking for buried evidence of longhouses. Historical records suggest the mission had separate living areas for members of the Odawa and Huron tribes with whom Marquette had journeyed.
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