Caddo Nation, Forest Service use device in graves search

Monday, January 19th 2004, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

BINGER, Okla.,(AP) _ Armed with a ground-penetrating radar device, members of the Caddo Nation, the U.S. Forest Service and a geophysicist are trying to find the exact location of tribal burial grounds.

A box, tethered by cable to a computer, emits radio waves that penetrate the earth, bouncing off soil and rocks. The reflected energy allows Dean Goodman, a geophysicist from California, to ``see'' the unseen that is beneath the soil.

The group has searched on property north of Binger where Lyman Kionute senior recalls attending burials.

Until recently, Kionute, 70, knew exactly where some of the remains were buried on his land. Small metal nameplates marked several graves until a man who leased the land began clearing undergrowth with a bulldozer.

``He looked down, and he seen that nameplate running up on that track,'' Kionute said. ``That scared him half to death.''

With his radar unit, geophysicist Dean Goodman gathered data at the site and results will be available in a week or two.

A separate survey helped identify a trench in an active cemetery where remains of Caddo members found by the U.S Army Corps of Engineers were reburied, or ``repatriated,'' four years ago.

Caddo officials hope the device will help them build a database _ using global positioning system mapping coordinates _ of the countless burial grounds of tribal members spread across Oklahoma and other states.

Many of them are marked only by a tree, a fence line or the memories of those still living.

Other tribes are also using the radar. The Kaw Nation is searching for Indian graves eroding near Kaw Lake and the Creek Nation has used it to protect burial grounds near construction.

The radar also helps find Indian graves that are in the path of highway construction.