An icon of Minnesota tourism is in the middle of what will be an archaeological dig and discussion about, who should pay for it.
The City of Bemidji has approved 130-thousand dollars for an archaeological dig in the park, behind this Carnegie Library. The plan is to move the library back, away from the highway and restore it.
But before it can be moved, State law requires checking the ground for Indian artifacts. If artifacts are found, they'll be moved into the State Museum. Plus, the ground around the current statue of Chief Bemidji must also be checked, since new footings for a new bronze statue will soon be built.
Marsha Larson, City of Bemidji: "We know this site is probably rich with our history and cultural artifacts, so the City is doing the study to make sure we respect those."
Roger Ricci, Bemidji: "You gotta respect the earth, you gotta respect our people."
Reporter: "So, they're doing the right thing?"
Ricci: "I believe so."
Two of Bemidji's 6 council members voted against approving money for the dig. But, since it's a sensitive, culturally charged issue with 3 reservations nearby, neither council member Nancy Erickson or Roger Hellquist would appear on camera.
However, Roger Hellquist told me, the City had originally approved $100,000 to tear the library down. Then, once the group to save the library came along, the City pledged that $100,000 to them.
Councilman Hellquist says he's not opposed to the archaeological dig, but he says it should now be the save the library group's financial responsibility.
The Mayor disagrees. Rita Albrecht says the library project is just one part of a project to turn this area into a downtown waterfront park. Albrecht says it will be used by the entire Community, so the city should pick up the check.
The archaeological dig is scheduled to begin at the end of this month. However, it could get much more expensive, if any human remains are found.