Fort Sill gets green light to build at base of Medicine Bluff - KSWO 7News | Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Fort Sill gets green light to build at base of Medicine Bluff

Fort Sill_The Army's review is over, and it has made the decision that Fort Sill can proceed to build its new Training Services Center near the base of Medicine Bluff - about one-third of a mile away.  The area is considered sacred to Comanche National tribal members, and some tried to stop construction.  However, after researching the issue, higher level Army officials have given Fort Sill the green light to proceed.  Tribal leaders are said to have given the go ahead on the plans on multiple occasions over the past two years.

Fort Sill wanted to show the community where the Training Services Center is being built, and just how far away it is from the Medicine Bluff boundary.  It's 1,600 feet away - the distance from the bluff's southern boundary and the construction site.  Fort Sill says it began discussing it's plans with Comanche Nation leaders in 2006.  Fort Sill's Colonel Robert Bridgford says the Oklahoma Historical Society and the Archeological Survey were also okay with the site.  One year later, Fort Sill says it again detailed its plans to the tribe and provided them with a map of the proposed construction area.  "This was not an issue," he said.  "We talked about other issues, but this was not brought up as a challenge." 

However, earlier this year, tribal member William Voelker challenged the plans - and Bridgford says he doesn't understand the reason behind the protest.  He says the center will be located further away from the historic boundary than other construction projects of years past.  "The housing is a couple hundred feet away in many cases, and as I mentioned earlier we have a fish and wildlife center within the boundary," he said.  Fort Sill has agreed to move three other training areas that are also in vicinity of the bluff's base.  "What you begin to do is restore the Medicine Bluff to its natural state, which is keeping with what we want to do with the national historic site," he said. 

In the future, Bridgford says he hopes that Fort Sill can work with local tribes to define the more historic boundaries on post - Medicine Bluff will be the first.  "We really want to find out where those sacred sites are so we can exclude them from any of our planning in the future," he said. 

Fort Sill is allowing Comanche Nation tribal members and archeologists to observe the construction work in the event that artifacts or other tribal items are uncovered.  William Voekler and the Comanche Nation's attorney were unavailable for comment at the time this story was aired.

 

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