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Native American Site, Broad Meadows - A Passanageset Knoll
 AnnMarie Harvie, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers - August 12, 2015

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QUINCY, Mass. - After one year of proposals and hard work, a group of 8th grade students from Broad Meadows Middle School have been able to add the Passanageset Knoll directly into the Geographic Names Information System (GNIS), which is the official geographic names database for the federal government. The “History Girls” as they are known had been trying to rename the Board meadows Marsh in Quincy, Massachusetts to the Passanageset Knoll after discovering that the area was a Native American Site.

Broad Meadows Environmental Restoration Project in Quincy, Mass., on Sept. 9, 2011. The site is now recognized as recognized as Passanageset Knoll. (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers courtesy photo)
Broad Meadows Environmental Restoration Project in Quincy, Mass., on Sept. 9, 2011. The site is now recognized as recognized as Passanageset Knoll. (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers courtesy photo)

They recently received correspondence from the U.S. Board on Geographic Names. regarding their proposal. “The Board is responsible for approving any new name for an unnamed geographic feature before it can be shown on federal maps and other products,” said Jennifer Runyon of the U.S. Geological Survey in a letter to the girls. “However, most of its decisions are made for features that are natural, such as mountains, rivers, valleys, bays, lakes, and so on.

‘Administrative' or man-made features, including parks, are usually named by the agency that manages them. So, in this case, it is not necessary for the Board to make a formal decision on the name Passanageset Park at Broad Meadows Marsh.”

According to Runyon, because there was already support for the new park name from the Mayor of Quincy, the Quincy Park and Recreation Board, the Quincy School Committee, the Massachusetts Tribe, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Board was able to add the park name directly into the Geographic Names Information System (GNIS), which is the official geographic names database for the federal government. Therefore, the name is official immediately for use by any federal department or agency.

The new GNIS entry is available for view at the Board's public website. The entry can be found by going to http://geonames.usgs.gov/domestic/index.html, clicking Search Domestic Names, and entering the new name into the Feature Name box. Select Massachusetts from the drop-down State list, and click the Send Query button. The name will be displayed, along with the geographic coordinates of the park, and on the right side of the page, links to various mapping services.

The New England District restored the Broad Meadows Marsh and the city is maintaining the uplands as a public park. Wendy Gendron, the District's' Planning Study Manger, was contacted by the girls early in their efforts and she referred them to Marc Paiva, the District's Archaeologist and Tribal Liaison. Paiva met with the girls and their teacher Ron Adams in June 2015.

“The History Girls” proposed to recognize a significant Native American site known as Passanageset Knoll, which is located behind the Broad Meadows Middle School within the salt marsh, which they discovered through research about the area,” said Paiva. “This relatively unknown site was the location of the Native American Massachusetts Tribe's summer village or “sachem's seat,” before they were forced by disease and epidemic to move to the more well-known Moswetuset Hummock located at the northern end of Wollaston Beach.”

The New England District provided its support in consulting with the various Tribal entities and individuals and assisted in arriving at proper signs and wording to recognize and commemorate the Native American history of Quincy, particularly at this significant Passanageset Knoll site.

Broad Meadows was a tidally influenced salt marsh prior to a Corps navigation improvement project placing dredged material in this area in the early 1950s, which increased its elevation above that of regular tidal flooding converting it to a lower value, non-tidal habitat dominated by the reed species known as Phragmites australis. Broad Meadows was recognized as a potentially valuable marsh restoration project implemented through the Corps Section 1135 of the Water Resources Development Act of 1986 authority to modify projects to improve the environment.

The District, together with the city of Quincy completed the salt marsh restoration at Broad Meadows Marsh in 2013. A portion of the project was partially funded by the Neponset River Watershed Association. The restoration replaced the low value common reed (Phragmites australis) with salt marsh, wet meadows and grasslands, improving habitat for fish and wildlife. A major milestone was reached on Dec. 21, 2011 when the marsh was flooded by tidal water for the first time after being buried under dredged material for more than 80 years. The District and city improved the walking paths in the summer of 2014 and will continue to manage Phragmites throughout the site.

By AnnMarie Harvie, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Provided through DVIDS
Copyright 2015

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