Author Topic: A Victory for Native Americans?  (Read 2400 times)

Offline Reginald Hudlin

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A Victory for Native Americans?
« on: June 07, 2010, 05:45:58 pm »

A Victory for Native Americans?
Jun 7 2010, 12:21 PM ET

Mistreatment of Indians is America's Original Sin, and the narrative is consistent. They lose their land, get portrayed as caricatures of social maladies, and are ripped off by the likes of Jack Abramoff. So it's no surprise that a tale with a very different ending, namely the righting of a horrible wrong affecting 500,000 Native Americans, proceeds with virtually no notice.
Indeed, you'd think that even Tea Party diehards should rally to this cause, given their anti-government and pro-property rights passion. They might even want to pay homage to the intrepid female accountant-turned-banker, who inspired one of the most fiercely litigated disputes against the federal government in history. But they likely won't. Who will? Not even many Indians believe that belated fairness is now on the way, given more than a century of government abuse and deceit whose undisputed facts strain credulity.
The facts are these: Following the House's approval, the Senate is considering whether to approve a $3.4 billion settlement of a 15-year-old lawsuit, alleging the government illegally withheld more than $150 billion from Indians whose lands were taken in the 1880s to lease to oil, timber, minerals and other companies for a fee. Back then, the government started breaking up reservations, accumulating over 100 million acres, giving individual Indians 80 to 160 acres each, and taking legal title to properties placed in one of two trusts. The Indians were given beneficial ownership but the government managed the land, believing Indians couldn't handle their affairs. With leases for oil wells in Oklahoma, resorts in Palm Springs, and rights-of-ways for roads in Scottsdale, Arizona, some descendants of original owners receive six- and even seven-figure sums annually. But the prototypical beneficiary, now poised to share in the settlement, is a poor Dakotan who struggles to afford propane to heat his quarters and has been receiving as little as $20 a year. More than $400 million a year is collected from Indian lands and paid into U.S. Treasury account 14X6039.

The story turns on theft and incompetence by the Interior and Treasury Departments, with culprits including Interior's Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) and the same Minerals Management Service now at the center of the BP oil spill fiasco. Over the past 100 years, government record systems lost track of more than 40 million acres and who owns them. The records simply vanished. Meanwhile, documents were lost in fires and floods, buried in salt mines or found in an Albuquerque storage facility covered by rat feces and a deadly Hantavirus. Government officials exploited computer systems with no audit trails to turn Indian proceeds into slush funds but maintain plausible deniability.

The lack of accountability is confirmed in the government's own reports and testimony dating to the early 20th century. Conclusions of "fraud," "corruption," "institutional incompetence," "deficiencies in accounting," "the accounts lack credibility," "multifaceted monster," "organizational nightmare," "dismal history of inaction," "criminal negligence," and "sorry history of department mismanagement," are found regularly between 1915 and the present.  Congress ordered an accounting in 1994 but interior secretaries in both the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations were held in civil contempt for not forking over records. District Judge Royce Lamberth, a Texas Republican nominated by President Reagan who oversaw the case for a decade, called the whole matter "government irresponsibility in its purest form."

I sat in Lamberth's courtroom in 1999 when Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt both lost his cool and conceded that the government couldn't provide accurate cash balances of most accounts and that "the fiduciary obligation of the United States is not being fulfilled." But the dispute would not end, as the Clinton and Bush administrations fought unceasing adverse rulings in a case inspiring 3,600 separate court filings and 80 published decisions. No single case, including the antitrust action against Microsoft, has been as heavily litigated and defended by the government, say lawyers.

The government's chief nemesis has been Elouise Cobell, a member of the Blackfeet Nation in Montana, the accountant-turned-banker who in 1987 started Blackfeet National Bank, the first national bank on a reservation. With a very small team of attorneys led by a Washington banking specialist, Dennis Gingold, her suit has inspired 3,600 court filings and 80 published decisions. Not even the antirust action against Microsoft was as heavily litigated by the government.

The historic resistance melded with an unsympathetic appeals court often overruling the dispute's two trial judges. It ordered removal of Lamberth, now the district court's chief judge, due to harsh language toward the government. Last year, it threw out a ruling by District Judge James Robertson, Lamberth's successor, that the Indians were owed $476 million, a pittance compared to the reduced, $48 billion they were seeking by then. Presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain both urged settlement during the 2008 campaign.

A resolute Judge Robertson then hauled Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and plaintiffs into his chambers last year. He made clear to one and all that, in light of the latest appeals court ruling, both sides had the choice between spending maybe another 10 years in court or trying to finally settle. The initial atmosphere was not necessarily conducive to harmony. Career government employees in the Interior, Justice and Treasury departments felt burned after years of being belittled by both the plaintiffs and Judge Lamberth. Meanwhile, the plaintiffs had minimal trust in the government. But political appointees in the Obama administration, including Salazar and Attorney General Eric Holder, took their cue from President Obama's own support of a settlement. Dozens of meetings ensued, with the many prickly issues including how far back in time one would go to try to determine who should benefit.

Ultimately, Judge Robertson prodded what, given all the legal setbacks, is an impressive $3.4 billion deal announced in December. Ironically, before the recent congressional recess, the House approved the deal and Robertson announced his retirement, meaning District Judge Thomas Hogan becomes the third, and hopefully final, arbiter in the case. He would oversee a so-called "fairness hearing" in which objections can be raised.

There is inherent complexity in wrapping up. If the Senate approves, there will be a media campaign throughout Indian Country, including direct mail, newspaper and broadcast public service advertisements. Garden City Group of Melville, New York, which handled the major class action against Enron, will be claims administrator. It will get computer lists from the Interior Department, with the account information of perhaps 500,000 Indians and then doublecheck names and addresses. How good are the records? Nobody is really sure.

The $3.4 billion will be placed in a still-to-be-selected bank and $1.4 billion will go to individuals, mostly in the form of checks ranging from $500 to $1,500. A small group, such as members of the Osage tribe who benefit from huge Oklahoma oil revenues, will get far more, based on a formula incorporating their 10 highest years of income between 1985 and 2009. As important, $2 billion will be used to buy trust land from Indian owners at fair market prices, with the government finally returning the land to tribes. Nobody can be forced to sell. As for the winning lawyers, their take is capped at $100 million, actually low by class-action standards, though Republican Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming, an orthopedic surgeon, has groused about the fees.

The fairness hearing will be interesting since many Indians have a hard time believing they're not still being shafted. "This proposed settlement fixes nothing, the U.S. won by legal weaseling," writes a member of the Upper Midwest's Prairie Band Potawatomi tribe on a message board. He's not alone. Like a family victimized by homicide, Indians may never experience enough healing to truly recover. But, finally, as hard as it is for them to believe, there really may be some justice.

James Warren - James Warren is a journalist who worked for the Chicago Tribune, writes columns for the New York Times and Business Week and is a political analyst for MSNBC.

Offline Battle

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Re: A Victory for Native Americans?
« Reply #1 on: April 07, 2019, 11:15:49 am »
Sunday, 7th April 2019
A sacred trust: We must stand united for Chaco landscape’s protection
by Jonathan Nez / President, Navajo Nation And E. Paul Torres / Chairman, All Pueblo Council Of Governors

Last month, the Navajo Nation and the All Pueblo Council of Governors (APCG) came together for a historic summit to declare our shared commitment to the Greater Chaco Landscape and to call on our congressional leaders and the Department of the Interior to conserve these sacred lands for future generations.

We were joined by many other elected leaders from New Mexico who stand with us in this critical endeavor.

The Greater Chaco Landscape is a truly significant resource that brings together the Pueblos of New Mexico and the Navajo Nation.

Including this summit, the Navajo Nation and APCG have only met three times, with each meeting focusing on the importance of protecting the abundance of cultural and historical resources.

New Mexicans and people from all around the world visit the region in large numbers every year to view historical sites and gaze at the breathtaking starry skies that hover above these lands at night.

It captures the imagination like no other place on Earth.

Navajo and Pueblo leaders, along with members of New Mexico’s congressional delegation, our governor and our state land commissioner have repeatedly sent a strong and unified message to the Department of the Interior and the BLM:

Protect public lands near Chaco Culture National Historical Park. 

Whether the agency chooses to respect our tribal and state leader's request will be seen as the BLM readies the release of a draft management plan amendment for the area.

In recent months, the agency suggested it would ignore this unprecedented level of support for land conservation by allowing lands within a roughly 10-mile buffer of the park to be developed for oil and gas. 

More than 90% of our public lands in the region are already leased for energy development, and the few remaining unleased areas near the park form a near pristine landscape of cultural objects and sacred sites.

While the BLM works on its management plan, we seek alternative ways to protect the Greater Chaco Landscape.
Last year, we supported legislation sponsored by U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich that would withdraw lands around Chaco National Park from oil and gas leasing. 

last month, our nations renewed our support for this bill and called on New Mexico's federal elected leaders to reintroduce it, along with a similar companion bill in the House of Representatives. 

This important legislation would provide long-term assurances for this critically important landscape, but it should not act in lieu of BLM's responsibility to listen to our communities and protect these lands through the administrative process. 

Either through the legislative or administrative process, our nations are committed to seeing through the widely supported plan to protect the Greater Chaco Landscape. 

We hope Interior Secretary David Bernhardt and lawmakers in Washington, D.C., will respect our reasonable request.

Now is the time for all of us who treasure this landscape to come together.

Please join us in our efforts to demand that the BLM do more to protect the lands near Chaco.

If we continue working together, we can permanently protect the Greater Chaco region.

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Offline Battle

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Re: A Victory for Native Americans?
« Reply #2 on: May 16, 2019, 09:12:40 am »
Wednesday, 15th May 2019
'It's my homeland': the trailblazing Native lawmaker fighting fossil fuels

by Jimmy Tobias

While she was campaigning for a seat in the US Congress last year, Deb Haaland went camping for four days. It was less a surprisingly timed vacation and more a return home.

Her destination was notable: Utah’s Bears Ears national monument, which Donald Trump controversially downsized in 2017 as part of a bid to encourage resource extraction.

She wanted to experience “a living landscape” where the art and artifacts of her people, the indigenous Pueblo, are still abundant.

She spent the trip hiking in and out of steep canyons and marveled at the area’s famed Moon House, a cliff dwelling and storage facility that dates back 800 years.

“There are some pretty amazing ruins there, and you know, I don’t even like to call them ruins,” Haaland says,

“because in our culture, in Pueblo culture, if you acknowledge our ancestors, they are there."

"The spirit of the people never leaves.”

Haaland has now become a powerful advocate for US public lands in the face of the Trump administration.

In November, Haaland, a member of the Laguna Pueblo tribe, won her New Mexico seat, becoming one of the first two Native American women ever elected to the US House of Representatives.

“My ancestors migrated to what is now New Mexico, where the Pueblo Indians live, back in the late 1200s,” Haaland told the Guardian in a recent interview.

“No one else can claim that they have been there any longer than our people, than the Pueblo people. I feel like perhaps my voice is important right now to testify to our longstanding care for the land.”

With Haaland in office, “we now have a Native American right there in the decisionmakers’ room,” said Shaun Chapoose, the co-chair of the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition and a member of the governing body of the Ute Indian tribe.

“She is a Native American and she understands our traditions and she is in a place where she can educate lawmakers.”

She understands, for instance, that almost every parcel of public land in the US is land that Native peoples have inhabited or used for material and spiritual purposes.

When the United States government used violence and coercion to force indigenous tribes on to reservations, Native people did not suddenly lose their connection to it.

“Our sacred sites are all over the public lands,” said Haaland.

Bears Ears, home to thousands of indigenous ancestral sites, is a prime example.

In December 2017, in response to the desires of conservative pressure groups and oil, gas and mining interests, the Trump administration announced that it would drastically shrink the boundaries of the monument, which the Obama administration established in late 2016.

The move was an affront to the many Native American tribes, including the Navajo, Ute and Hopi people, who had advocated for years for the monument’s creation in order to protect their heritage.

“Trump turned around and basically told the tribes, ‘hey, you ain’t got no say, just sit there and take what I give you,’” said Chapoose.

After joining Congress, Haaland was made the vice-president of the House committee on natural resources, a key legislative body that crafts environmental laws and has jurisdiction over critical issues like climate change.

It was a plum position for someone in office only a few weeks.

Haaland dove almost immediately into the fight over Bears Ears, denouncing the monument downsizing during hearings on Capitol Hill and cosponsoring bills that would restore protections to Bears Ears and prevent the executive branch from shrinking or abolishing national monuments in the future.

Given Republican control of the Senate and the White House, these bills have a murky future.

Bears Ears and the broader south-west, Haaland says, are “my homeland. It is proper for me to want to protect it.”

She feels similarly about New Mexico’s Chaco Canyon national historic park, the site of a high-desert indigenous settlement that was a major center of Pueblo culture dating back to 850 AD.

Today, the park is threatened with a rash of proposed oil and gas development on nearby lands, and Haaland isn’t happy about it.

In April, she helped lead a congressional delegation to the site to build support for a bill she is cosponsoring that would ban all oil and gas drilling within a 10-mile radius of the park.

Haaland and her colleagues toured the park’s abundant ancient dwellings and used infrared cameras to observe the plumes of methane that adjacent oil and gas drilling constantly leaks into the air.

“I just feel like our priorities are so messed up right now,” she said.

“We need to protect every single open space that we possibly can,” including Chaco, Bears Ears and more.

Haaland’s work on behalf of the public lands is not solely about protecting indigenous sacred sites.

She is also deeply concerned about the climate crisis.

Tom Solomon, a co-coordinator for the climate group 350 New Mexico, said that Haaland “has been a pretty fierce climate advocate for a long time”.

Before she went to Washington DC, Solomon says Haaland was “instrumental” in building bridges between the environmental movement and indigenous communities in New Mexico in support of legislation that commits public utilities in the state to stringent clean and renewable energy standards by 2045.

That legislation, called the Energy Transition Act, was signed into law in New Mexico in March 2019.

Haaland says she would ultimately like to see fossil fuel development phased out completely on the federal domain.

“I am wholeheartedly against fracking and drilling on public lands,” she said.

She is also a staunch supporter of the Green New Deal, a nascent plan to rapidly end America’s reliance on fossil fuels, restore its ecosystems and rebuild its infrastructure.

“Public lands are a statement about who we are as Americans,” Haaland said.

“The most pristine and beautiful places in our country should never belong to one person.”

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« Last Edit: May 16, 2019, 10:57:45 am by Battle »

Offline Battle

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Re: A Victory for Native Americans?
« Reply #3 on: July 15, 2019, 09:02:30 pm »
Monday, 15th July 2019
$12 million Gets Historic Names Back
by Kelly O'Mara

After the National Park Service settled a lawsuit on Monday for approximately $12 million, popular landmarks in Yosemite will go back to being called by the names they were best known for.

Curry Village will again be Curry Village.

The Ahwahnee Hotel will return to being called the Ahwahnee Hotel.

And Badger Pass Ski Resort is once more Badger Pass.

The settlement comes after a dispute over who owned the names.

In 2016, Yosemite changed the names of a number of landmarks following a lawsuit filed by Delaware North, which had served as the park's concessionaire since 1993 but lost the contract to the company Aramark.

Delaware North then filed a lawsuit alleging it owned the trademarks to various historic names of beloved landmarks throughout Yosemite.

While the lawsuit was ongoing, the park officially changed the names of places like Curry Village and the Ahwahnee.

  • The Ahwahnee became the Majestic Yosemite Hotel.
  • Curry Village was Half Dome Village.
  • The Wawona Hotel became Big Trees Lodge.
  • Badger Pass was Yosemite Ski & Snowboard Area.

In reality, however, most visitors were slow to adapt to the change, which was largely viewed as temporary.

While some materials, such as signs, were printed with the new names, said Yosemite spokesman Scott Gediman, many things, like napkins at the hotel, simply weren't.

"We felt strongly about restoring the names," he said, noting the park always intended to return to the original names.

"People feel strongly about places like Curry Village, the Ahwahnee Hotel, places families have been coming for generations."

The settlement requires Aramark to pay $8.16 million and the government to pay $3.84 million to Delaware North for the names, a number of logos and other branded content, Gediman said.

The government money comes out of the Judgment Fund, which is set aside by the Department of Justice to be used in settling lawsuits filed against federal agencies.

Under the terms of the agreement, Aramark will own the names and logos for the duration of its contract — through 2031 — at which point the names and logos will revert to the government.

No one conceded fault or ownership, said Gediman, but rather they felt it was important to settle the lengthy lawsuit.

"Aramark is, in effect, purchasing the use of these historic names," said Gediman.

The changes will be effective immediately.

In fact, some signage has already been switched back — especially in cases like Curry Village, where the switch simply involved removing the temporary signage that had signaled the interim name.

It may take months, though, to make all the changes.

A handful of names won't switch either, because it was felt they were close enough.

The only major one, said Gediman, is the Yosemite Valley Lodge, which will continue to be the Yosemite Valley Lodge, because it was similar enough to the historic name:

Yosemite Lodge at the Falls.

"We're just really excited," he said.

"What's old is new again."

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Offline Battle

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Re: A Victory for Native Americans?
« Reply #4 on: November 28, 2019, 09:51:14 am »
Thursday, 28th November 2019
The Invention of Thanksgiving
by Philip Deloria

Autumn is the season for Native America.

There are the cool nights and warm days of Indian summer and the genial query “What’s Indian about this weather?”

More wearisome is the annual fight over the legacy of Christopher Columbus—a bold explorer dear to Italian-American communities, but someone who brought to this continent forms of slavery that would devastate indigenous populations for centuries.

Football season is in full swing, and the team in the nation’s capital revels each week in a racist performance passed off as “just good fun.”

As baseball season closes, one prays that Atlanta (or even semi-evolved Cleveland) will not advance to the World Series.

Next up is Halloween, typically featuring “Native American Brave” and “Sexy Indian Princess” costumes.

November brings Native American Heritage Month and tracks a smooth countdown to Thanksgiving.

In the elementary-school curriculum, the holiday traditionally meant a pageant, with students in construction-paper headdresses and Pilgrim hats reënacting the original celebration.

If today’s teachers aim for less pageantry and a slightly more complicated history, many students still complete an American education unsure about the place of Native people in the nation’s past—or in its present.

Cap the season off with Thanksgiving, a turkey dinner, and a fable of interracial harmony.

Is it any wonder that by the time the holiday arrives a lot of American Indian people are thankful that autumn is nearly over?

Americans have been celebrating Thanksgiving for nearly four centuries, commemorating that solemn dinner in November, 1621.

We know the story well, or think we do.

Adorned in funny hats, large belt buckles, and clunky black shoes, the Pilgrims of Plymouth gave thanks to God for his blessings, demonstrated by the survival of their fragile settlement.

The local Indians, supporting characters who generously pulled the Pilgrims through the first winter and taught them how to plant corn, joined the feast with gifts of venison.

A good time was had by all, before things quietly took their natural course:

the American colonies expanded, the Indians gave up their lands and faded from history, and the germ of collective governance found in the Mayflower Compact blossomed into American democracy.

Almost none of this is true, as David Silverman points out in

“This Land Is Their Land: The Wampanoag Indians, Plymouth Colony, and the Troubled History of Thanksgiving” (Bloomsbury).

The first Thanksgiving was not a “thanksgiving,” in Pilgrim terms, but a “rejoicing.”

An actual giving of thanks required fasting and quiet contemplation; a rejoicing featured feasting, drinking, militia drills, target practice, and contests of strength and speed.

It was a party, not a prayer, and was full of people shooting at things.

The Indians were Wampanoags, led by Ousamequin (often called Massasoit, which was a leadership title rather than a name).

An experienced diplomat, he was engaged in a challenging game of regional geopolitics, of which the Pilgrims were only a part.

While the celebrants might well have feasted on wild turkey, the local diet also included fish, eels, shellfish, and a Wampanoag dish called nasaump, which the Pilgrims had adopted:

boiled cornmeal mixed with vegetables and meats.

There were no potatoes (an indigenous South American food not yet introduced into the global food system) and no pies (because there was no butter, wheat flour, or sugar).

Nor did the Pilgrims extend a warm invitation to their Indian neighbors.

Rather, the Wampanoags showed up unbidden.
And it was not simply four or five of them at the table, as we often imagine.

Ousamequin, the Massasoit, arrived with perhaps ninety men—more than the entire population of Plymouth.

Wampanoag tradition suggests that the group was in fact an army, honoring a mutual-defense pact negotiated the previous spring.

They came not to enjoy a multicultural feast but to aid the Pilgrims:

hearing repeated gunfire, they assumed that the settlers were under attack.

After a long moment of suspicion (the Pilgrims misread almost everything that Indians did as potential aggression), the two peoples recognized one another, in some uneasy way, and spent the next three days together.

No centuries-long continuity emerged from that 1621 meet-up.

New Englanders certainly celebrated Thanksgivings—often in both fall and spring—but they were of the fasting-and-prayer variety.

Notable examples took place in 1637 and 1676, following bloody victories over Native people.

To mark the second occasion, the Plymouth men mounted the head of Ousamequin’s son Pumetacom above their town on a pike, where it remained for two decades, while his dismembered and unburied body decomposed.

The less brutal holiday that we celebrate today took shape two centuries later, as an effort to entrench an imagined American community.

In 1841, the Reverend Alexander Young explicitly linked three things:

the 1621 “rejoicing,” the tradition of autumnal harvest festivals, and the name Thanksgiving.

He did so in a four-line throwaway gesture and a one-line footnote.

Of such half thoughts is history made.

A couple of decades later, Sarah Josepha Hale, the editor of Godey’s Lady’s Book, proposed a day of unity and remembrance to counter the trauma of the Civil War, and in 1863 Abraham Lincoln declared the last Thursday of November to be that national holiday, following Young’s lead in calling it Thanksgiving.

After the Civil War, Thanksgiving developed rituals, foodways, and themes of family—and national—reunion.

Only later would it consolidate its narrative around a harmonious Pilgrim-Wampanoag feast, as Lisa Blee and Jean O’Brien point out in “Monumental Mobility: The Memory Work of Massasoit” (North Carolina), which tells the story of how the holiday myth spread.

Fretting over late-nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century immigration, American mythmakers discovered that the Pilgrims, and New England as a whole, were perfectly cast as national founders:

white, Protestant, democratic, and blessed with an American character centered on family, work, individualism, freedom, and faith.

The new story aligned neatly with the defeat of American Indian resistance in the West and the rising tide of celebratory regret that the anthropologist Renato Rosaldo once called “imperialist nostalgia.”

Glorifying the endurance of white Pilgrim founders diverted attention from the brutality of Jim Crow and racial violence, and downplayed the foundational role of African slavery.

The fable also allowed its audience to avert its eyes from the marginalization of Asian and Latinx labor populations, the racialization of Southern European and Eastern European immigrants, and the rise of eugenics.

At Thanksgiving, white New England cheerfully shoved the problematic South and West off to the side, and claimed America for itself.

The challenge for scholars attempting to rewrite Thanksgiving is the challenge of confronting an ideology that has long since metastasized into popular history.

Silverman begins his book with a plea for the possibility of a “critical history.”

It will be “hard on the living,” he warns, because this approach questions the creation stories that uphold traditional social orders, making the heroes less heroic, and asking readers to consider the villains as full and complicated human beings.

Nonetheless, he says, we have an obligation to try.

So how does one take on a myth?

One might begin by deconstructing the process through which it was made.

Silverman sketches a brief account of Hale, Lincoln, and the marketing of a fictionalized New England.

Blee and O’Brien reveal how proliferating copies of a Massasoit statue, which we can recognize as not so distant kin to Confederate monuments, do similar cultural work, linking the mythic memory of the 1621 feast with the racial, ethnic, and national-identity politics of 1921, when the original statue was commissioned.

One might also wield the historian’s skills to tell a “truer,” better story that exposes the myth for the self-serving fraud that it is.

Silverman, in doing so, resists the temptation to offer a countermyth, an ideological narrative better suited to the contemporary moment, and renders the Wampanoags not simply as victims but as strugglers, fighting it out as they confront mischance and aggression, disagreeing with one another, making mistakes, displaying ambition and folly, failing to see their peril until it is too late.

In the story that many generations of Americans grew up hearing, there were no Wampanoags until the Pilgrims encountered them.

If Thanksgiving has had no continuous existence across the centuries, however, the Wampanoag people have.

Today, they make up two federally recognized tribes, the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe and the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head, and they descend from a confederation of groups that stretched across large areas of Massachusetts, including Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard, and Nantucket.

In the years before the Pilgrims’ landing, trails and roads connected dozens of Wampanoag communities with gathering sites, hunting and fishing areas, and agricultural plots.

North America’s defining indigenous agriculture—the symbiotic Three Sisters of corn, beans, and squash—came late to the region, adopted perhaps two hundred years before Europeans appeared.

That’s when the Wampanoags, who moved seasonally between coastal summer residences (not unlike Cape Cod today) and protected winter homes inland, took up farming.

Cultivation and cropping created a need for shared-use land management and an indigenous notion of property.

That led in turn to the consolidation of a system of sachems, leaders who navigated the internal needs of their communities, established tributary and protectorate relationships with nearby communities, and negotiated diplomatic relations with outsiders.

« Last Edit: November 28, 2019, 10:16:37 am by Battle »

Offline Battle

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Re: A Victory for Native Americans?
« Reply #5 on: November 28, 2019, 09:53:11 am »
When the Pilgrims encountered Ousamequin, they were meeting a paramount sachem, a Massasoit, who commanded the respect necessary to establish strategy for other groups in the region.

The Pilgrims were not the only Europeans the Wampanoags had come across.

The first documented contact occurred in 1524, and marked the start of a century of violent encounters, captivity, and enslavement.

By 1620, the Wampanoags had had enough, and were inclined to chase off any ship that sought to land.

They sent a French colonizing mission packing and had driven the Pilgrims away from a previous landing site, on the Cape.

Ousamequin’s people debated for months about whether to ally with the newcomers or destroy them.

When they decided to begin diplomacy, they were guided by Tisquantum (you may recall him as Squanto) and Epenow, New England natives who had been captured, held in bondage in Britain, and trained as interpreters by the English before eventually finding their way back across the Atlantic.

Why would Ousamequin decide to welcome the newcomers and, in 1621, make a mutual-defense pact with them?

During the preceding years, an epidemic had struck Massachusetts Bay Indians, killing between seventy-five and ninety per cent of the Wampanoag and the Massachusett people.

A rich landscape of fields and gardens, tended hunting forests, and fishing weirs was largely emptied of people.

Belief systems crashed.

Even survival did not mean good health, and, with fields unplanted and animals uncaught, starvation followed closely behind.

The Pilgrims’ settlement took place in a graveyard.

Wampanoag people consolidated their survivors and their lands, and reëstablished internal self-governance.

But, to the west, the Narragansetts—traditional rivals largely untouched by the epidemic—now outnumbered the Wampanoags, and that led to the strengthening of Ousamequin’s alliances with the surviving Massachusett and another nearby group, the Nipmucks.

As the paramount sachem, he also had to contend with challenges to his leadership from a number of other Wampanoag sachems.

And so, after much debate, he decided to tolerate the rather pathetic Pilgrims—who had seen half their number die in their first winter—and establish an alliance with them.

That history, understood through Wampanoag characters and motives, explains the “rejoicing” that Americans later remembered as a pumpkin-spiced tale of Thanksgiving conciliation.

This rejoicing arrives about a third of the way through Silverman’s four-hundred-plus-page book.

What follows is a vivid account of the ways the English repaid their new allies.

The settlers pressed hard to acquire Indian land through “sales” driven by debt, threat, alliance politics, and violence.

They denied the coequal civil and criminal jurisdiction of the alliance, charging Indians under English law and sentencing them to unpayable fines, imprisonment, even executions.

They played a constant game of divide and conquer, and they invariably considered Indians their inferiors.

Ousamequin’s sons Pumetacom—called King Philip by the English—and Wamsutta began forming a resistance, despite the poor odds.

By 1670, the immigrant population had ballooned to sixty or seventy thousand in southern New England—twice the number of Native people.

We falsely remember a Thanksgiving of intercultural harmony.

Perhaps we should recall instead how English settlers cheated, abused, killed, and eventually drove Wampanoags into a conflict, known as King Philip’s War, that exploded across the region in 1675 and 1676 and that was one of the most devastating wars in the history of North American settlement.

Native soldiers attacked fifty-two towns in New England, destroyed seventeen of them, and killed a substantial portion of the settler population.

The region also lost as much as forty per cent of its Native population, who fought on both sides.

Confronted by Mohawks to the west, a mixed set of Indian and Colonial foes to the south, and the English to the east, Pumetacom was surrounded on three sides.

In the north, the scholar Lisa Brooks argues, Abenaki and other allies continued the struggle for years.

In “Our Beloved Kin: A New History of King Philip’s War” (Yale), Brooks deepens the story considerably, focussing on indigenous geographical and linguistic knowledge, and tracing the life of Weetamoo, the widow of Wamsutta and the saunkskwa, or female leader, of her tribe, the Pocasset.

Weetamoo was Pumetacom’s ally, his relative, and a major figure in the fight.

In the end, not only Pumetacom’s head was stuck on a pike; hers was, too, displayed for Wampanoag prisoners who were likely soon to be sold to the Caribbean.

The Thanksgiving story buries the major cause of King Philip’s War—the relentless seizure of Indian land.

It also covers up the consequence.

The war split Wampanoags, as well as every other Native group, and ended with indigenous resistance broken, and the colonists giving thanks.

Like most Colonial wars, this one was a giant slave expedition, marked by the seizure and sale of Indian people.

Wampanoags were judged criminals and—in a foreshadowing of the convict-labor provision of the Thirteenth Amendment—sold into bondage.

During the next two centuries, New England Indians also suffered indentured servitude, convict labor, and debt peonage, which often resulted in the enslavement of the debtor’s children.

Thanksgiving’s Pilgrim pageants suggest that good-hearted settlers arrived from pious, civilized England.

We could remember it differently:

that they came from a land that delighted in displaying heads on poles and letting bodies rot in cages suspended above the roads.

They were a warrior tribe.

Despite continued demographic decline, loss of land, and severe challenges to shared social identities, Wampanoags held on.

With so many men dead or enslaved, Native women married men outside their group—often African-Americans—and then redefined the families of mixed marriages as matrilineal in order to preserve collective claims to land.

They adopted the forms of the Christian church, to some degree, in order to gain some breathing space.

They took advantage of the remoteness of their settlements to maintain self-governance.

And by the late twentieth century they began revitalizing what had been a “sleeping” language, and gained federal recognition as a tribal nation.

Today, Wampanoag people debate whether Thanksgiving should be a day of mourning or a chance to contemplate reconciliation.

It’s mighty generous of them.

David Silverman, in his personal reflections, considers how two secular patriotic hymns,

“This Land Is Your Land” and “My Country ’Tis of Thee,” shaped American childhood experiences.

When schoolkids sing “Land where my fathers died! Land of the Pilgrim’s pride,” he suggests, they name white, Protestant New England founders.

It makes no sense, these days, to ask ethnically diverse students to celebrate those mythic dudes, with their odd hats and big buckles.

At the very least, Silverman asks, could we include Indians among “my fathers,” and pay better attention to the ways they died?

Could we acknowledge that Indians are not ghosts in the landscape or foils in a delusional nationalist dream, but actual living people?

This sentiment bumps a little roughly against a second plea: to recognize the falsely inclusive rhetoric in the phrase “This land is your land, this land is my land.”

Those lines require the erasure of Indian people, who don’t get to be either “you” or “me.”

American Indian people are at least partly excluded from the United States political system, written into the Constitution (in the three-fifths clause and the Fourteenth Amendment, for example, where they appear as “Indians not taxed”) so as to exist outside it.

Native American tribes are distinct political entities, sovereign nations in their own right.

“American Indian” is a political identity, not a racial one, constituted by formal, still living treaties with the United States government and a long series of legal decisions.

Today, the puppetine empire would like to deny this history, wrongly categorize Indians as a racial group, and disavow ongoing treaty relationships.

Native American tribal governments are actively resisting this latest effort to dismember the past, demanding better and truer Indian histories and an accounting of the obligations that issue from them.

At the forefront of that effort you’ll find the Mashpee Wampanoags, those resilient folks whose ancestors came, uninvited, to the first “Thanksgiving” almost four centuries ago in order to honor the obligations established in a mutual-defense agreement—a treaty—they had made with the Pilgrims of Plymouth Colony.

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« Last Edit: November 28, 2019, 10:18:54 am by Battle »

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Re: A Victory for Native Americans?
« Reply #6 on: December 21, 2019, 10:57:40 am »
Saturday, 21st December 2019
Native tribe recognized by US government after long fight

An American Indian tribe whose members were scattered after being denied a homeland more than a century ago has been formally recognized by the U.S. government.

Recognition of the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians was included in a defense spending bill signed into law Friday night by President Donald Trump.

That ends a campaign for recognition as a sovereign nation that tribal leaders trace back to the 1860s.

That’s when Chief Little Shell and his band in North Dakota refused to sign what they considered an unfair treaty.

They ended up landless, and most eventually settled in Montana, often living on other tribes’ reservations or in poor areas of the state’s urban centers.

Members of Montana’s congressional delegation had sought the provision that was inserted into the defense bill.

The Department of Interior had repeatedly delayed or denied the tribe’s petitions for recognition over the course of decades, putting a spotlight on what many lawmakers and tribal officials said were flaws in the recognition process.
The recognition provision requires the Department of Interior to grant the Little Shell 200 acres in central Montana as a tribal land base, with more land acquisitions possible in the future.

Tribal leaders will now enter into talks with federal agencies about what kind of services will be provided to its members.

The tribe claims more than 5,000 members.

Most are in Montana but others live in Canada and the Dakotas.
As a condition of receiving any federal benefits such as for health care and community development program, the tribe has to submit a membership roll to the Department of Interior within 18 months, or by mid-2021.

The Department oversees the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

How much aid the tribe receives will depend on the number of certified members, according to agency spokeswoman Genevieve Giaccardo.

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Re: A Victory for Native Americans?
« Reply #7 on: December 23, 2019, 11:51:01 am »
Monday, 23rd December 2019
He claimed Chumash ancestry and raised millions. But experts say he’s not Chumash
by Adam Elmahrek and Paul Pringle

On a recent afternoon, Mati Waiya wore a bear bone in his nose and a medicine bag dangled from a strap around his neck.

In his hand were two California condor feathers, sacred to the Chumash people who once flourished on the Southern and Central California coasts.

For more than a quarter of a century, Waiya has served as one of the most prominent voices for the Chumash, invoking his ancestors’ ties to the land along the Santa Clara River.

His nonprofit Wishtoyo Foundation, which runs an education center in Malibu, has raised more than $12 million since 2015, IRS records show.

The foundation also has waged legal battles to protect historically Chumash areas and waterways from pollution and major construction projects.

But leaders of the local Chumash band and academic experts on the tribe’s history and genealogy challenge Waiya’s claims to Chumash roots.

Several also have asked whether it is appropriate for him and his family to make money through the foundation and allege he performs ceremonies that mislead the public about Chumash culture and usurps the role of the tribal leadership in Ventura County.

A Times review of census, birth, marriage, death and Roman Catholic Church records dating to the 18th century shows that Waiya’s forebears came from Mexico, where ethnohistorians said there were no Chumash.

In an interview at an old Santa Paula golf course that his foundation has bought to create a Chumash cultural conservancy, Waiya said he had a documented family genealogy that shows he is of Chumash descent, but he declined to share it with The Times.

“We know where we come from,” Waiya said, gesturing to the Topatopa Mountains.

Questionable claims to Native American ancestry have become common in recent decades, infuriating tribes who complain that their culture is often appropriated for financial gain.

A Times investigation this year found that more than $300 million in contracts reserved by local, state and federal government agencies for minorities across the country instead went to contractors who made unsubstantiated claims to being Cherokee Indians.

The contractors were members of unrecognized groups that federally recognized tribes say are illegitimate.

A review of genealogy records dating to the 19th century found that the contractors’ ancestors were white.

The controversy over Waiya’s ancestry is more complex, raising thorny issues of cultural identity and who can legitimately represent Chumash interests.

Waiya has strong support from some Chumash members of his foundation who say he has fought to preserve the tribe’s history and culture.

But to his detractors, Waiya’s role as one of the state’s most visible leaders of the Chumash people makes his ancestral claims all the more concerning.

Among the Chumash, disputes over tribal heritage go back decades and are complicated by the fact that the federal government officially recognizes only one group — the Santa Ynez band in Santa Barbara County — as a tribe.

Scholars say there are potentially thousands of people with Chumash ancestry who are not members of the recognized tribe.

Anthropologist Brian Haley, who has conducted research on the backgrounds of people asserting Native American identities, said questionable claims to indigenous heritage began to increase in the 1960s.

Many, he said, came to sincerely believe family stories about Native American ancestors.

Haley, a professor at State University of New York Oneonta, said he also traced Waiya’s roots back to Mexico.

“We’re looking at something that’s actually a global phenomenon, people asserting indigenous identities,” Haley said.

A spokesperson for the Santa Ynez band of Chumash Indians declined to comment.

For thousands of years, the Chumash fished and foraged on tribal lands that extended from San Luis Obispo County to Malibu.

The tribe encompassed about 150 villages before the Chumash were nearly wiped out by disease and violence after Europeans arrived in California.

Today, there isn’t a single full-blooded Chumash left, according to scholars.

Waiya, 63, said his work is to educate the public and advocate for Chumash culture and the environment.

The Ventura County-based Wishtoyo Foundation has filed lawsuits over allegations of polluting local waters, including two that ultimately required Six Flags Magic Mountain and the city of Ventura to reduce the dumping of pollutants into the Santa Clara River and its estuary.

The Trump administration also settled a Wishtoyo lawsuit by agreeing to designate a habitat to safeguard humpback whales.

The nonprofit counts the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation among its donors, and the actor Beau Bridges has served on the board.

Terry Tamminen, former head of the California Environmental Protection Agency, started the foundation with Waiya and is the board’s vice president.

In the last three years, federal tax filings show, Waiya’s salary as the foundation’s executive director has ranged from $80,000 to $161,000.

Last year, he was paid $120,000 plus nearly $9,600 from a related organization that wasn’t identified on the tax document.

The foundation also employs his wife, Luhui Isha, as its director of cultural resources, as well as his son, a nephew and Isha’s son, according to an attorney for the organization.
Waiya and the foundation declined to say how much his relatives are paid.

The nonprofit isn’t required to disclose salaries for employees making under $50,000. Waiya’s sister-in-law sits on the board of directors and serves as its secretary.

She is not paid, according to tax filings.

Julie Tumamait-Stenslie, chairwoman of the local Chumash tribe known as the Barbareño/Ventureño band of Mission Indians, described Waiya’s work as the “colonization of our culture for his own personal gain.
We don’t get to weigh in on how he is interpreting our culture.”

She and three others said Waiya misrepresents traditions by blowing into a conch shell at blessing ceremonies — an act they say was never a Chumash practice.

Tumamait-Stenslie also criticized Wishtoyo’s involvement in a legal settlement with the developer behind Newhall Ranch, a planned city of 58,000 in northwest Los Angeles County.

In 2010, Waiya submitted a letter to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the California Department of Fish and Game invoking his ancestors 20 times as he argued that the development would ravage the area Chumash people once lived.

The Wishtoyo Foundation sued to stop the development, joining a coalition of environmental activists that included the Santa Ynez band of Chumash Indians.

Several members of the coalition settled with the developer in 2017.

In a separate confidential agreement, the developer — FivePoint Holdings LLC — gave the foundation an undisclosed sum to buy land and construct a Chumash museum, which has not yet been built.

The foundation took in nearly $8.9 million in legal settlement revenue last year, according to its 2018 tax filing.

The document does not say whether the money came from the Newhall settlement, and the nonprofit’s board president declined to comment.

The foundation recently purchased the shuttered Mountain View Golf Course and two neighboring parcels for about $5.5 million, property records show.

The nonprofit plans to turn the land into an “ecological and cultural conservancy.”

Tumamait-Stenslie said she would have preferred to keep fighting the Newhall Ranch project.

Though Waiya’s foundation was part of a coalition of groups that sued, Tumamait-Stenslie said she blames Waiya for not reaching out to include her Ventura Chumash tribe in decisions about the suit since he holds himself out as representing tribal interests in the area.

“People who don’t know or don’t want to question [Waiya’s] authenticity will think he’s representing a tribe, but he’s not,” Tumamait-Stenslie said.

Raudel Bañuelos, the band’s vice chair, said:

“He has no right representing Chumash interests.”

Carole Goldberg, president of the Wishtoyo Foundation’s board and a UCLA law professor, said Tumamait-Stenslie’s Chumash band “declined to engage with Wishtoyo despite invitations to partner on local issues” and didn’t previously show an interest in the Newhall Ranch development.

According to Tumamait-Stenslie, the foundation’s attorney did approach her more than a decade ago, but she rejected the invitation because she doesn’t consider Waiya to be Chumash.

Goldberg dismissed the accusation that Waiya misrepresents the tribe’s culture.

She said it came from “an exceptionally small, non-representative subset of Chumash people who dispute any cultural practices which differ from their own.”

The foundation board, Goldberg said, had reviewed allegations that Waiya and his wife were not descended from the Chumash and concluded they didn’t warrant further inquiry.

She said that it was common in the 19th century for California Indians to identify themselves as members of other ethnicities to U.S. census takers out of fear of persecution or even death at the hands of white settlers.

“If you think you can find neat, crisp genealogies for everything, that’s mistaken,” Goldberg said.

Earlier this year, Tumamait-Stenslie and two other Chumash — Jonathan Cordero and Matthew Vestuto — wrote to Waiya and his wife, demanding proof for the couple’s ancestry claims.

“As you will hopefully agree, the misappropriation of Chumash identity and culture is a serious affront to Chumash peoples and adversely affects the Chumash community’s relations with the broader public,” they wrote in January 2019.

Waiya and Isha did not respond to the letter.

Cordero and Vestuto later sent letters to the foundation board, alleging the couple are not descended from Chumash people.

They said the board never responded to the allegations.

Isha, whose birth name is Paulette Ward, told The Times she descends from Chumash on her father’s side and said “outsiders” shouldn’t meddle in disputes between Native Americans.

She declined to provide evidence of Chumash ancestry, saying that paper records are unreliable and that the Chumash passed down their culture from one generation to another through oral traditions.

“It’s very important to leave native business to native people,” she said.

Some Chumash people, including members of the Wishtoyo Women’s Elders Council and several of Cordero’s relatives, signed letters denouncing those who challenge the Chumash identity of others.

The letters did not name Waiya but were posted on Wishtoyo’s website.

The letter from the Women’s Elders Council said the attacks are motivated by “jealousy and hatred,” and are aided by “biased academics of questionable authority.”

It states that “Chumash identity is rightly held through a number of different ways,” including genealogical documentation, oral family histories and tribal enrollment or membership.

Georgiana Sanchez, head of the Wishtoyo Women’s Elders Council, said that she hadn’t seen Waiya’s genealogical documents and didn’t rule out the possibility that he was Mexican American and became Chumash by absorbing the culture.

Sanchez pointed to the “incredible work” Waiya has done in protecting Chumash land and promoting the tribe’s culture.

She said when she met him two decades ago, she found him to be “very authentic.”

Her daughter, Deborah Sanchez, is Wishtoyo’s board chair and a Los Angeles Superior Court judge.

She declined to comment.

Cordero, a sociology professor at California Lutheran University, said that Chumash communities have the right to accept someone as “ethnically Chumash” — though he would disagree with such a decision — if they have no Chumash ancestry.

But he said Waiya cannot claim the credibility that comes with having Chumash ancestors.

“Contrary to his claims, Mati Waiya has no Chumash ancestry,” Cordero said.

Waiya’s birth certificate identifies him as Frank Rocha — which he calls his “slave name”— and says his parents were white, a racial designation that can include Latinos.

His father was born in Mexico, the certificate said.

The Times also examined birth and other genealogical records for Waiya’s family on his mother’s side, going back eight generations.

Some of his ancestors were soldiers who helped colonize California for Spain, according to the records.

None of the documents identified Waiya’s ancestors as Chumash, but a 1930 U.S. census record says his great-great grandmother, Celedonia Baldonado, was from a “Mission Tribe.”

John Johnson, an ethnohistorian at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, said the phrase was a catch-all for Native Americans, not only the Chumash, who lived near missions in California and Mexico.

Other records identify Baldonado by various surnames but don’t say she was Native American.

At least two documents put her birth place as California but most said she was born in Mexico.

Johnson, who has spent decades studying Chumash culture and ancestry, said he examined Baldonado’s background when Waiya’s cousin contacted him in the late 1990s and asked that he try to prove the family’s Chumash ancestry through her.

Johnson said he concluded Baldonado was born in Mexico.

Her children show up in baptism records at the Santa Barbara mission, but they are not identified as Native Americans.

Johnson said it would be highly unlikely for Baldonado and her children to have escaped being recorded as California Indians in the Spanish church records or in U.S. census entries, and avoid other efforts to document them as Native American.

He said Waiya’s relatives “were disappointed that we didn’t find Chumash ancestry.”

Asked about the findings, Waiya challenged his detractors to “take us to court” over his ancestry.

“They’re submissive to a genocidal, colonial thinking that’s destroyed our people,” Waiya said of his Chumash critics.

“We don’t have to prove this …They’re not the Chumash police or the Chumash God.”

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Re: A Victory for Native Americans?
« Reply #8 on: January 10, 2020, 01:26:01 pm »
Friday, 1oth January, 2020
America's public lands are in danger – and in 2020 we'll report from the frontlines

by The Guardian

Public lands are facing threats like never before.

Seasoned superintendents have been shuffled around the country to force their retirement.

Ancient cacti are being plowed up to make way for a border wall.

Mention of climate change has been suppressed.

These attacks are outlined by none other than Jon Jarvis, the head of the National Park Service under Barack Obama, in a Guardian op-ed co-authored with his brother, Destry.

“These are not random actions,” the Jarvises conclude.

“This is a systematic dismantling of a beloved institution.”

In the face of these threats, we are glad to announce that we are expanding This land is your land, a series first launched with philanthropic and reader support in 2017.

In 2020, we’ll be publishing investigations and features that reveal the risks federal lands face from privatization, energy extraction and climate change.

We’re also expanding our coverage to Canada, to scrutinize the dangers of fossil fuel development there, but also to see what America can learn from the way public lands are managed with the involvement of indigenous peoples.

But we need your help.

This kind of reporting – on the ground, in far-flung locations – is expensive.

Please consider supporting the Guardian by contributing today.

Our work is having an impact.

Our Lost Lands interactive showed the astonishing scale of fossil fuel development and privatization under drumphf.

We partnered with four newspapers in the western US to produce our epic feature on how we’re “loving nature to death”.

And we’ve uncovered multiple ongoing contacts between drumphf officials entrusted with guarding America’s most precious lands and the private interests that once employed them – ranging from fossil fuel proponents to Koch-backed advocacy groups, in one case helping lead to an official investigation.

We also:

Revealed how the drumphf administration sabotaged a major conservation effort.

Broke the news that officials are cracking down on transparency at the interior department.

Exposed the effects of government shutdowns on national parks.

We couldn’t have done all this without the generous support of our readers.

We’re working to raise $1.5m to support our reporting in the new year.

Help us continue to shine a light on the powerful forces who view our federal lands in terms of profit rather than protection.

To support the Guardian’s journalism, including our pioneering reporting on public lands, make a contribution now.

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Re: A Victory for Native Americans?
« Reply #9 on: March 27, 2020, 11:48:55 pm »
Saturday, 28th March 2o2o
Message from the Chairman: We Will Take Action to Prevent the Loss of Our Land

At  4:00 pm today -- on the very day that the United States has reached a record 100,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus and our Tribe is desperately struggling with responding to this devastating pandemic --  the Bureau of Indian Affairs informed me that the Secretary of the Interior has ordered that our reservation be disestablished and that our  land be taken out of trust. 

Not since the termination era of the  mid-twentieth century has a Secretary taken action to disestablish a reservation.

Today's action was cruel and it was unnecessary.

The Secretary is under no court order to take our land out of trust. 

He is fully aware that litigation to uphold our status as a tribe eligible for the benefits of the Indian Reorganization Act is ongoing.

It begs the question, what is driving our federal trustee's crusade against our reservation?

Regardless of the answer, we the People of the First Light have lived here since before there was a Secretary of the Interior, since before there was a State of Massachusetts, since before the Pilgrims arrived 400 years  ago. 

We have survived, we will continue to survive. 

These are our lands, these are the lands of our ancestors, and these will be the lands of our grandchildren. 

This Administration has come and it will go. 

But we will be here, always. 

And we will not rest until we are treated equally with other federally recognized tribes and the status of our reservation is confirmed.

I  will continue to provide updates on this important issue in the coming days as we take action to prevent the loss of our trust status.

Chairman Cedric Cromwell
Qaqeemasq (Running Bear)

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Re: A Victory for Native Americans?
« Reply #10 on: July 09, 2020, 10:16:17 am »
Thursday, 9th July 2o2o
Oklahoma's land remains an Indigenous People's reservation under the treaty
by Adam Liptak and Jack Healy

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) — The Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that nearly half of Oklahoma falls within an Indian reservation, a decision that could reshape the criminal-justice system by preventing state authorities from prosecuting offenses there that involve Native Americans.

The 5-to-4 decision, potentially one of the most consequential legal victories for Native Americans in decades, could have far-reaching implications for the 1.8 million people who live across what is now deemed “Indian Country” by the high court.

The lands include much of Tulsa, Oklahoma’s second-biggest city.

The case was steeped in the United States government’s long history of brutal removals and broken treaties with Indigenous tribes, and grappled with whether lands of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation had remained a reservation after Oklahoma became a state.

Justice Neil M. Gorsuch, a Westerner who has sided with tribes in previous cases and joined the court’s more liberal members, said that Congress had granted the Creek a reservation, and that the United States needed to abide by its promises.

“Today we are asked whether the land these treaties promised remains an Indian reservation for purposes of federal criminal law,” Justice Neil M. Gorsuch wrote.

“Because Congress has not said otherwise, we hold the government to its word.”

Muscogee leaders hailed the decision as a hard-fought victory that clarified the status of their lands.

The tribe said it would work with state and federal law-enforcement authorities to coordinate public safety within the reservation.

“This is a historic day,” Principal Chief David Hill said in an interview.

“This is amazing. It’s never too late to make things right.”

But Chief Justice John G. Roberts warned in a dissenting opinion that the Court had sown confusion in the state’s criminal-justice system and “profoundly destabilized” the state government’s powers in eastern Oklahoma.

“The State’s ability to prosecute serious crimes will be hobbled and decades of past convictions could well be thrown out,” Justice Roberts wrote. 

“The decision today creates significant uncertainty for the State’s continuing authority over any area that touches Indian affairs, ranging from zoning and taxation to family and environmental law.”

The case concerned Jimcy McGirt, a member of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation who was convicted of sex crimes against a child by state authorities in the Nation’s historical boundaries.

He said that only federal authorities were entitled to prosecute him.

Mr. McGirt argued that Congress had never clearly destroyed the sovereignty of the Creek Nation over the area, covering about half the state.

The solicitor general of Oklahoma took the opposite view, saying the area had never been reservation land.

McGirt v. Oklahoma, No. 18-9526, an appeal from a state court’s decision, was the Supreme Court’s second attempt to resolve the status of eastern Oklahoma.

In November 2018, the justices heard arguments in Sharp v. Murphy, No. 17-1107, which arose from the prosecution in state court of Patrick Murphy, a Creek Indian, for murdering George Jacobs in rural McIntosh County, east of Oklahoma City.

After he was sentenced to death, it emerged that the murder had taken place on what had once been Indian land.

Mr. Murphy argued that only the federal government could prosecute him and that a federal law barred the imposition of the death penalty because he was an Indian.

Mr. Murphy convinced the United States Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit, in Denver.

But when the case was argued before an eight-member Supreme Court, the justices seemed divided and troubled.

(Justice Neil M. Gorsuch, who had served on the 10th Circuit when it ruled on the case, recused himself.)

Instead of issuing a decision before the term ended in June 2019, the court announced it would hear another set of arguments in its current term, which started in October.

That was a sign the court had deadlocked, 4 to 4.

But there was no new argument in the Murphy case, probably because it was not clear another hearing would break the deadlock.

Instead, the court heard Mr. McGirt’s case, allowing the overarching issue to be settled by a nine-member court.

*** The New York Times Comment Section ***

Atlanta, GA
5min ago

This isn’t some broad acceptance of native American rights or sovereignty. This is the Supreme Court finding that the original treaty applies in the realm of criminal jurisdiction unless Congress says otherwise. This is super inconvenient for everyone involved other than criminals looking for an excuse to get their convictions overturned in the short term. I can’t imagine that federal judges and prosecutors are happy with the prospect of taking over half of Oklahoma’s criminal justice system. And I’m certain that Congress won’t want to pay for it. I wonder what the headlines will be when Congress turn this back over to Oklahoma.

Paul C. McGlasson
Athens, GA
1hr ago

For now, it is “half of Oklahoma”.  But the Choctaw, Chickasaw, Seminole, and Cherokee nations which were cruelly driven into what would become Oklahoma by Trump’s favorite president, Jackson, will surely eventually be accorded similar status.

On the license plate of every car in Oklahoma is the proud declaration:  Native America.  The SCOTUS just took one step closer toward making that promise true.

Having grown up in Ponca City, OK, I am glad and proud of the decision.

Jim Wilkins
San Francisco
1hr ago

Finally Native Americans win one. But what about all the other treaties that were violated. If the principle holds in Oklahoma it should hold elsewhere. Land in the western (and probably some of the eastern) US was subject to treaties signed between tribes and the US government only to be broken again and again. This is yet another historical wrong that needs to be addressed.

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Re: A Victory for Native Americans?
« Reply #11 on: July 23, 2020, 12:48:33 am »
Thursday, 23rd July 2o2o
Sierra Club calls out the racism of John Muir
by Shelby Grad

John Muir is a towering figure in the environmental movement.

He saved Yosemite Valley, helped form the National Park Service and influenced generations with his passionate calls to protect and revere nature.

But on Wednesday, the Sierra Club — which Muir co-founded — acknowledged a darker part of Muir’s history.

“He made derogatory comments about Black people and Indigenous peoples that drew on deeply harmful racist stereotypes, though his views evolved later in his life,” the environmental group said in an article posted on its website.

“As the most iconic figure in Sierra Club history, Muir’s words and actions carry an especially heavy weight. They continue to hurt and alienate Indigenous people and people of color who come into contact with the Sierra Club.”

The club said it was addressing Muir’s racism in the spirit of reckoning with the past following protests over the death in police custody of George Floyd.

In the wake of Floyd’s death, numerous confederate monuments have been taken down, as well as some statues of Christopher Columbus and Father Juniper Serra, another founding father of California.

“It’s time to take down some of our own monuments, starting with some truth-telling about the Sierra Club’s early history,” the organization said.

In addition to noting Muir’s history, the post also said that two other club founders — Joseph LeConte and David Starr Jordan — were white supremacists and that Jordan was a leading believer in eugenics.

Muir is one of the most revered figures in California history.

His writings greatly influenced the environmental movement.

But in recent years, there has been a growing debate about his influence and relevance.

A 2014 Times article noted Muir’s hatred of indigenous Californians and his support for pushing Native Americans off their lands.

“It is essential that we try to understand John Muir in all his complexity,” Laura Pulido, a professor in USC’s Department of American Studies and Ethnicity, told The Times in the article.

“He was a man of his times, who actively worked to displace California Indians by taking their lands.”

Others have noted that many of the landmark sites Muir saved were stolen from indigenous people, often by force.

Before Muir arrived in Yosemite, it was home to native Californians who died in large numbers from disease and slaughter when Europeans arrived and pushed them out.

“Muir was depressingly conventional on matters of race, afflicted with a garden-variety Victorian white supremacism,” writer Daniel Duane wrote in a Times opinion article in 2015.

“But he was an otherwise harmless and decent man; my point is really just that Muir experienced Yosemite as God’s empty paradise only because armed men stole the land by violence 17 years before he arrived in 1868.”

Some have also argued that Muir’s message missed key environmental issues the world is facing today, such as population growth, urban sprawl, demographic shifts and climate change.

“Critics also see a correlation between the emotional, biblical language of Muir’s writings and the demographic makeup of national park visitors and the ranks of the largest environmental organizations — mainly aging, white Americans,” the article added.

The Sierra Club outlined plans to make the group better reflect the diversity of America today. The organization has wrestled with Muir’s legacy in the past.

In one article on its website, a writer carefully examined Muir’s writings and found both racism and a growing admiration for Native Californians as he got older.

That review found that Muir held bigoted views toward Indians (“he used such negative terms as ‘dirty,’ ‘garrulous as jays,’ ‘Superstitious,’ ‘deadly,’ ‘lazy,’ ‘squirrelish,’ and ‘wife stealing’ to describe California Indians,” the report said).

But later in life, he came to admire their stewardship of the land and expressed concern about the cruel ways they were treated.

Floyd’s death has sparked a new look at the racism and violence inflicted on Native Californians.

State officials removed a statue of Christopher Columbus from the Capitol rotunda in Sacramento this summer.
A statue of Serra was pulled down on Olvera Street in Los Angeles, with protesters saying the founder of the Spanish mission system enslaved and abused Indians.

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Re: A Victory for Native Americans?
« Reply #12 on: September 25, 2020, 05:02:32 am »
Friday, 25th September 2o2o

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