Corps publishes Mormon Island Relocation Cemetery files

Published May 3, 2011

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Sacramento District has published its files related to its relocation in 1954 of 13 cemeteries and private burial plots to the Mormon Island Relocation Cemetery during the construction of Folsom Dam.

Among the relocated graves were those of 36 unknown settlers, likely buried between 1850 and 1870, interred at Negro Hill Cemetery. Their graves at Mormon Island Relocation Cemetery were marked with new headstones which identify the original cemetery by another, deeply offensive slur. Nothing in available U.S. Army Corps of Engineers records indicates why the more offensive term was used, but it is the primary reference in all relevant official project documents, including the relocation plan, project maps, contracts and deeds.

All Corps files related to the relocation of Negro Hill Cemetery are available by contacting the Sacramento District public affairs office at (916) 557-5100 or The records were located in response to a Freedom of Information Act request filed by the Associated Press in April.

"We are deeply ashamed and regretful to find this word in our records, and for having perpetuated a hateful, racist word that has no place in public discourse," said Sacramento District commander, Lt. Col. Andrew Kiger.

"Our hearts tell us these grave markers should be replaced," Kiger said. "But we recognize and respect the ongoing discussion among community members and historians about their historical accuracy, and about finding the best way to address the offense and hurt they continue to cause."

Though the Corps has no known legal ability to participate as an agency in changing these grave markers, "We are, however," Kiger said, "an agency of service-oriented and caring people, many of whom have already said they would volunteer their time to help make this right. In whatever way we can possibly contribute to the solution, we faithfully promise and intend to do so."

Chris Gray-Garcia

Release no. 11-010