Archeological study should document Native American past at paper mill site

It is undoubtedly sad to see the Robertson Paper Mill torn down for some future development, but all things must pass.

I have a long tie to the building going back to the 1960s, when my father was vice president of the company. I spent many Saturdays running through the factory on steel walkways while ancient presses were running full speed, wax and ink were in the air, and Dickens lurked just behind the corner. It was a very busy place in those days and kept many residents of Bellows Falls and Walpole employed. My father was very proud of that fact.

Those days cannot be brought back, clearly. But what must not be ignored in the rush to demolish what's left of that era is the era that came before: the Native American era.

Many Native graves were discovered when Robertson Paper was built. The buried were found sitting up and facing the east. Their skeletons were dug up and displayed in storefronts in town.

My father found numerous arrowheads and other implements in the basement of Robertson Paper. There were ghost sightings of Native people reported.

This was sacred land for a number of tribes who came in peace to fish, be married, and be buried. This is well documented.

It would be a tragedy and a travesty to not allow for a full archeological study of Robertson Paper before the destruction and filling in of the basement. Who knows what could be discovered?

Hopefully we will have answers and not the ignoring of a real treasure on the Island in Bellows Falls - its Native American past.

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