facebook app symbol  twitter  linkedin  instagram 1

Demolition is underway at the Community Presbyterian Church on the Lac du Flambeau Indian Reservation after an unmarked grave site was identified on church property by the tribe’s historical preservation office in August. The demolition began on Monday morning. 

Native News Online reported in August that the tribe initiated a ground-penetrating radar (GPR) survey in partnership with the Ho-Chunk Nation of Wisconsin’s Tribal Historic Preservation Officer, Bill Quakenbush, after a depression was discovered in the church’s parking lot.

Native News Online confirmed that the land is leased to the church by the Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians, a federally recognized tribe in northern Wisconsin. 

Never miss Indian Country’s biggest stories and breaking news. Sign up to get our reporting sent straight to your inbox every weekday morning. 

Three areas of the parking lot were removed, for the purpose of testing the soil of possible human remains. One of them showed positive results of human remains, and then a portion of the parking lot and an additional building were closed off out of respect for the grave identified under the parking lot. 

The tribe issued a statement in August saying that it would not be exhuming any human remains that are discovered under the church’s parking lot. The church property has been surveyed in the past, but not with GPR and the location of the depression is the only location where the GPR was used.

Since the human remains will not be exhumed, the parking lot has been reduced by approximately one-third of its size.


A portion of the church parking lot has been permnantly closed. (Photo/Courtesy)

The tribe announced on September 22, 2023 that the Presbyterian Church agreed to remove the building near the location of where human remains were found under the church parking lot. A structure known as “The Attic," a resale shop, and a portion of the church’s parking lot will be demolished by the Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians’ Tribal Roads Department. The tribe has not issued a statement in regards to the demolition today, or any other matter regarding the effort by church leadership to stall the demolition.

The original church was built at the site in 1898. The building was replaced with the current church in 1995. “The Attic” was later built in 2001.

At least one unmarked grave was discovered under the parking lot and that was enough to schedule demolition near the identified grave site. The tribe scheduled the demolition to begin today, and local church leaders pleaded with the Lac du Flambeau Tribal Council to postpone demolition, saying that the removal of one of its structures would eliminate its main source of revenue.  

The tribe has not responded to inquiries on whether or not there will be a replacment of the retail shop. 

“The Attic has closed for the season a couple of weeks earlier than expected due to the parking lot being cordoned off, and the resulting inability to access the building,” the Community Presbyterian Church said in its September newsletter. “This means sadness for staff and clients alike as well as a diminished amount of money to distribute in missional ways for 2023.”

The tribe said that it plans to replace the removed area of the parking lot with more grassy areas more appropriate for their ancestors’ final resting place. The church’s pastor, Timm High, resigned September 15, 2023 and transferred to another location, according to the church’s website. The church is in search of another pastor. The church did not disclose if the former pastor's transfer was related to the human remins discovery.

More Stories Like This

At Least 10 States Quietly Own Lands Within Indian Reservations — and Profit from Them
It is time to heal old wounds’ | Sovereignty is Once Again on the Table for Maine’s Tribes
Second Annual Wisconsin Cannabis Industry & Policy Summit Set for Feb. 29th
Legislation Filed in Illinois Would Help Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation Reclaim Stolen Land

Native Perspective.  Native Voices.  Native News. 

We launched Native News Online because the mainstream media often overlooks news that is important is Native people. We believe that everyone in Indian Country deserves equal access to news and commentary pertaining to them, their relatives and their communities. That's why the story you’ve just finished was free — and we want to keep it that way, for all readers.  We hope you'll consider making a donation to support our efforts so that we can continue publishing more stories that make a difference to Native people, whether they live on or off the reservation. Your donation will help us keep producing quality journalism and elevating Indigenous voices. Any contribution of any amount — big or small — gives us a better, stronger future and allows us to remain a force for change. Donate to Native News Online today and support independent Indigenous-centered journalism. Thank you.

About The Author
Author: Darren ThompsonEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Darren Thompson (Lac du Flambeau Ojibwe) is a staff reporter for Native News Online who is based in the Twin Cities of Minnesota. Thompson has reported on political unrest, tribal sovereignty, and Indigenous issues for the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network, Indian Country Today, Native News Online, Powwows.com and Unicorn Riot. He has contributed to the New York Times, the Washington Post, and Voice of America on various Indigenous issues in international conversation. He has a bachelor’s degree in Criminology & Law Studies from Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.