A sacred burial ground in northern Minnesota will remain closed to the public at the request of descendants of the Native Americans buried there.
The Grand Mound Historic Site, on the northern Minnesota border with Canada, has been owned by the Minnesota Historical Society since 1970, but the site and its visitor center closed to the public in 2002 because of budget cuts.
Over the past 16 years, MNHS has preserved and secured the site as it tried to figure out what would happen with it going forward, and four years ago started engaging with local community leaders from International Falls, Koochiching County and Native American tribes.
This ultimately led to the decision announced on Friday that the site would remain closed to the general public, but limited access would be granted to Native Americans, to be used for ceremonial and educational purposes.
"This site is first and foremost a burial ground with thousands of human remains still interred there," said Joe Horse Capture, director of Native American Initiatives at MNHS, in a news release.
"This decision honors Native ancestors and ensures respect for Native American culture and history."
"Grand Mound is part of an interconnected line of burial mounds that runs for 90 miles along the Canadian and U.S. sides of the Rainy River," added Kent Whitworth, MNHS director and CEO.
"The historical importance of this site cannot be understated, but we must protect it and provide education while also ensuring that Native people can care for the place where their ancestors lie."