Monday, June 2, 2008
Grave robbing is still an accepted practice in Western society, but only if the grave is that of a Native American. We have seen this time after time, involving not only “pot-hunters” but also state and university archeologists.
In 1963 - 1964, West Virginia's state archaeologist Dr. Edward Mc Michael led a dig just east of Buffalo, West Virginia, on WV Route 62. The site is near the present day Toyota plant in Buffalo. Now called the Buffalo Indian Village, the excavation revealed a village consisting of a central plaza surrounded by large ceremonial buildings, a semi-circle of ordinary houses, all of which were enclosed by a stockade.
Using earth-moving equipment borrowed from the state's Division of Highways, the excavation uncovered hundreds of artifacts of different types. Also dug up and removed were the remains of approximately 600 American Indians. These remains, which consist mostly of bone fragments because of the excavation, passed from institution to institution before ending up at Ohio State University in the mid-1990s. Currently held mixed together in almost 150 boxes, no research has ever been done on the remains other than cataloging and storing them.
The remains, which are between 400 to 500 years old, have been determined to be “culturally unidentifiable”. I personally find this hard to believe. After all, we are not talking about a 9,200 year old Kennewick Man. As with the final disposition efforts with other remains in recent years , a tug-of-war has ensued over the Buffalo Indian Village remains.
On one side are the scientists, archeologists, and museum officials who are becoming more vocal about losing the opportunity to study remains of Native Americans, ultimately putting many on display. On the other side are the Putnam County commissioners and supporting citizens who want to facilitate reburial in a private and dignified manner. Astonishingly, eleven federally recognized tribes that once had a historical connection with the area of now West Virginia have been contacted, but none have stepped forward to either claim the remains or express an interest in being involved in the reburial. This left the problem turned over to a NAGPRA review committee that was meeting in late May in Wisconsin. The committee then tabled the issue, leaving the two opponents to battle it out. The NAGPRA review committee is scheduled to meet again in October.
Whether or not any of the federally recognized tribes identify with the people of the Buffalo Indian Village should be immaterial. I submit that they have the moral duty and responsibility to become involved in seeing that the remains are reburied, just as the Puyallup tribe reclaimed the remains of twenty unidentified individuals from three Puget Sound area museums.
That the village might have been composed of one tribe or was multi-tribal makes no difference. The Creator knows who these people were. Bury the remains with respect. Let the archeologists who protest dig up and study the remains of their own ancestors. Who knows what interesting tidbits of information they might discover.
Meanwhile, a large voice of thanks to those in Putman County who have been working hard over the past decade to see that the remains are reburied with dignity. It’s a rare case of non-Indians doing something right for American Indians that Indians are apparently unwilling to do themselves.
What I wish to do is to impress on every diabetic - Native American and non- Native American alike - the importance of not minimizing this life sucking disease and urge them to follow their prescribed medications and accompanying regimen with a next to religious vigor.
I failed to do so over the past year, and addressed my diabetes in a half hearted way. In essence, I dropped my medications and program and concentrated my focus on the illness and death of my mother, taking care of children and grandchildren, and other daily living issues. Everything except my own illness.
This came to a head last week, which explains the lack of comments being posted. I won’t go into details, but it should suffice to say that last week was a miserable experience from which I am still recovering. Hopefully, I will be able to reverse the damage that I allowed to occur. It was a real wake-up lesson. After an unpleasant thorough and severe dressing down by my doctor - which I fully deserved - I’m back on my medications and associated programs.
The death rates for diabetes in American Indians is estimated to be 4.3 times the rate in whites. This is without taking consideration that American Indian death rates are estimated to be underreported by 20.6%. Manage your diabetes and don’t add to the statistics.
Monday, May 26, 2008
When one thinks of American Indians and wars overseas, the first who come to mind are probably the Code Breakers of WWI and WWII. Although these brave men are certainly deserving recognition, they are just a small portion of American Indians who have served in war - many of who received the highest honor given by the U.S. Government - the Medal of Honor.
On 12 April 1875, eleven Apache warriors from Arizona serving in the Indian Scouts were awarded the Medal of honor for gallant action and bravery in the Apache campaigns - Alchesay, Blanquet, Chiquito, Elsatsoosh, Jim, Kelsay, Kosoha, Machol, Nannasaddie, Nanthae, and Rowdy. As time rolled by and other wars were fought, American Indians continued to be awarded the Medal of Honor for military heroism and extraordinary bravery - Jack C. Montgomery (Cherokee from Oklahoma), Ernest Childers (Creek from Oklahoma), Van Barfoot (Choctaw from Mississippi), Mitchell Red Cloud Jr. (Winnebago from Wisconsin), and Charles George (Cherokee from North Carolina).
Lt. Ernest Childers, Lt. Jack Montgomery, and Lt. Van Barfoot were all of the famed 45th Thunderbird Infantry Division. Childers had first distinguished himself in Sicily, where he received a battlefield commission. Later in Italy, unaided and despite severe wounds, he destroyed three German machine gun emplacements. During the Anzio Campaign in Italy, Montgomery attacked a German strongpoint single-handed, killing eleven of the enemy and taking thirty-three prisoners. During the breakout from Anzio to Rome, Barfoot knocked out two machine gun nests and captured seventeen prisoners. Subsequently, he defeated three German tanks and carried two wounded men to safety.
The unit with the most American Indians in WWI was the 36th Division, with around 600 represented in the Company E of the 142d Infantry Regiment as well as in the 358th Infantry Regiment. Half of these had already served in the unit before the war as it was a Oklahoma-Texas National Guard unit. There were also some largely Lakota units, such as Battery B of the 130th Field Artillery, Battery C of the 147th Field Artillery and companies of the 351st and 355th Infantry Regiments. Most of the 12,000 American Indians who served in WWI were scattered and integrated throughout the army.
In 1918 the Iroquois Indians had declared their own war on Germany. Since they were not included in the 1919 Peace Treaty, they simply renewed their Declaration of War for WWII and included Italy and Japan. They passed their own draft act and sent their young warriors into National Guard units. The Chippewa and Sioux joined the Iroquois in declaring war on the Axis.
The Pueblos sent 10 percent of their population to the armed forces for WWII. Wisconsin Chippewas at the Lac Oreilles Reservation contributed 100 men from a population of 1,700. Nearly all the able-bodied Chippewas at the Grand Portage Reservation enlisted. Blackfeet Indians enlisted in droves. Navajo Indians responded by sending 3,600 into military service; 300 lost their lives. Many volunteered from the Fort Peck Sioux-Assinibois Reservation in Montana, the descendants of the Indians that defeated Custer.
On Pearl Harbor Day, there were 5,000 American Indians in the military. By the end of the war, 24,521 reservation Indians, exclusive of officers, and another 20,000 off-reservation Indians had served. The combined figure of 44,500 was more than ten percent of the Native American population during the war years. This represented one-third of all able-bodied Indian men from 18 to 50 years of age. In some tribes, the percentage of men in the military reached as high as 70 percent. Also, several hundred American Indian women served in the WACS, WAVES, and Army Nurse Corps.
The 45th Division *Thunderbirds* (Texas-Oklahoma National Guard) had the highest proportion of American Indian soldiers of any division, and American Indians served conspicuously in the 4th and 88th Divisions, the l9th and 180th Infantry Regiments, and the 147thField Artillery Regiment, plus numerous other different Oklahoma National Guard units. Maj. Lee Gilstrop of Oklahoma, who trained 2 ,000 Native Americans at his post, said, "The Indian is the best damn soldier in the Army."
Exploits by American Indians in WWII are far from few. Maj. Gen. Clarence Tinker, an Osage, was the highest ranking American Indian in the armed forces at the beginning of the war. He died leading a flight of bombers in the Pacific during the Battle of Midway. Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma is named after him. Joseph J. *Jocko* Clark, the first American Indian (Cherokee) to graduate from Annapolis, participated in carrier battles in the Pacific as a Rear Admiral. Brumett Echohawk, of the Pawnee Kit-Kahaki (warrior band) and now a renown Pawnee artist and author, was an expert in hand-to-hand combat and trained commandos. Brummett and William Lasley, a Potawatomie, led the successful charge at Anzio Beach to take the *Factory* which insured that the allied toe-hold at Anzio Beach was secure. Lasley was killed in the first assault.
The stories and lists of names continue through other military actions, reaching the present. Hundreds of American Indians have served in Afghanistan and Iraq. Specialist Lori Piestewa, Hopi, was the first service woman killed in action in Operation Iraqi Freedom and the first known Native American service woman known to have been killed in combat. Mike Dawes, Cherokee citizen and former Cherokee Nation law enforcement officer, lost his life in Iraq. PFC Sheldon Hawk Eagle (Lakota name Wanbli Ohitika), who traced his bloodline to Crazy Horse on his father’s side and Sitting Bull on his mother’s side, also paid the ultimate price in Iraq. Corporal Nathan J. Goodiron, from Mandaree North Dakota and with the North Dakota National Guard, died when a rocket propelled grenade struck his vehicle while on patrol in Qarabagh, Afghanistan. Corporal Goodiron’s cousin, C.J. O'Berry, was wounded in the attack.
I wish I knew the names of every single American Indian who has been either wounded or killed in Afghanistan or Iraq. Their names should not be lost to history. Nor should all who have served and come back be forgotten.
In speaking of Specialist Piestewa, Oneida Daniel King, president of the Wisconsin Indian Veterans Association, has said: "There is an old warrior saying: 'When you adorn yourself with the implements of war, you are ready to kill. It is only right then, you must be prepared to die as well. As Indian people, we know how to face war, we know how to sacrifice, we know how to honor, we know courage. We know how to remember."
Thursday, May 22, 2008
At the same time I was writing the last comment about the nutritional problems of the Makah and Native American peoples who have been forced from their tradition diet, the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium announced the publishing of it’s book, “Traditional Food Guide for Alaska Native Cancer Survivors." The book was published with financial support from the Alaska Cancer Survivorship and Wellness Program, Alaska Regional Hospital's Cancer Care Center, the American Cancer Society, the Intercultural Cancer Council, the National Cancer Institute's Cancer Information Service, Seattle Children's Hospital and Regional Medical Center and the state's Comprehensive Cancer Control Program. The purpose of the book is to educate and support the return to traditional subsistence foods for health reasons.
The traditional Eskimo diet, which includes seals, walrus, and whales, once resulted in the highest level of health found among indigenous peoples anywhere on earth. Because of the introduction of western foods, Alaskan Natives now have the dubious distinction of having the highest cancer death rates in the nation. In addition, the traditional diet of the Eskimo contained as much as 80 percent of calories as fat and there is no indication that they suffered from heart disease. Today, Eskimos have a fifty percent higher percentage of congenital heart disease than western populations.
Part of this high incidence is the result of the diet being replaced by plant derived liquid oils that have been hardened through the process of hydrogenation, and therefore tend to be rancid. Rancid fats contain large numbers of free radicals, molecules with unpaired electrons that are highly reactive. Free radical damage in the arteries is thought to be an important factor in the initiation of plaque. Secondly, these oils lack vitamins A and D found in animal fats and through processing are likely to be shorn of naturally occurring vitamin E and other antioxidants. Yet, these unhealthy plant oils are exactly what the animal rights activists would like to coerce American Indians such as the Makah to ingest.
Are the anti-Makah activists racist?
The selective protests against American Indians, such as the Makah, points to a concerted racist program conducted by the activists involved. Section 101(a)(5) (A-D) of the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 (MMPA), as amended (16 U.S.C. 1371(a)(5)), allows the incidental taking of small numbers of marine mammals by U.S. citizens who engage in a specified activity (other than commercial fishing) within a specified geographic region. This taking includes depleted and endangered or threatened marine mammals. In 1992, a further amendment was added that expedited the process for authorization to take the mammals.
Yet, protests by activists against these authorizations are conspicuously lacking. The most recent authorization appears in the 21 May, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 99)] [Notices] [Page 29485-29491] in the Federal Register. This authorization allows an LNG facility in Massachusetts Bay to take not just one marine mammal species - as requested by the Makah - but several: North Atlantic right whale (Eubalaena glacialis), humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae), fin whale (Balaenoptera physalus), minke whale (B. acutorostrata), pilot whale (Globicephala spp.), Atlantic white-sided dolphin (Lagenorhynchus acutus), bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus), common dolphin (Delphinus delphis), killer whale (Orcinus orca), harbor porpoise (Phocoena phocoena), harbor seal (Phoca vitulina), and gray seal (Halichoerus grypus).
There are at least 32 authorization permits in existence. Eleven of these permits alone are for power plant operations in Central and Southern California, so that the populations there can receive electricity. Granted, these authorizations to not guarantee that marine mammals will be taken (defined under the MMPA as "harass, hunt, capture, kill or collect, or attempt to harass, hunt, capture, kill or collect."). But, and this is important, the authority to do so is given. Whether a marine mammal is taken by the Makah for food, or by one of the permit holders because the mammal got in the way, the ultimate end result is the same for the mammal.
Yet, activists apparently think it’s okay for their culture to take a marine mammal because it‘s in their way, but not okay for American Indians to take one for their cultural and traditional sustenance purposes. I would certainly call this a racist inspired program. The continued denial that the indigenous people of this continent have no “traditional cultural” rights also strengthens this picture. The concept of western society being superior to the Native American is not dead.
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
The writer’s position shows that many who oppose the gathering of marine mammals for sustenance have little or no knowledge of the various indigenous cultures. Using the argument given, it can also said that there should also be no rights for the white culture to exist at all. Who is really the dishonorable party? Who lied and broke treaties, who stole land, who spread diseases, who attempted in every way imaginable to completely destroy the indigenous population?
Using the same argument, does the city of Seattle really deserve to exist? The Strait of Juan de Fuca leads to Seattle, Tacoma and Cherry Point (a petroleum reﬁnery), as well as Vancouver and Victoria, Canada. The biggest threat facing whales is collisions with ships and entanglement in fishing gear. Fatal ship strikes are increasing as the number of ships serving these ports increase. Pull down these cities, and other cities with a population that consumes the supplies transported by the ships, then there will be no ships to strike the whales. This is a rather outrageous suggestion and scenario, but no more outrageous than the one presented towards the Makah and other Native American peoples. Of course, an added bonus of ending the European occupation of the area would include the end of all the ills that are associated with the occupation - crime, pollution, destruction of wildlife habitat, and so forth.
That the whale struck by Johnson was lost is unfortunate, but the loss of whales after striking is no different than the loss of any other game - deer, moose, caribou, mountain sheep, and fowl. During the period 2002-2006, 38 whales internationally were struck and lost. Not being there and knowing the exact circumstances, I doubt that few of us can make a valid comment on why the whale was lost or be able to present a valid condemnation. I can speak with my own experience of living 35 years in the arctic and sub-arctic and hunting with my in-laws, there are times when a marine mammal does sink before it can be salvaged. I can assure you that such things are not taken lightly and causes disconcert amongst the hunters.
Whales might be “intelligent, sensitive mammals who have done us no harm“, but what animal or bird used in the human food chain is not intelligent or sensitive to various extents? How many do us harm? There are even those who believe that plants have a degree of primitive intelligence and have “feelings”. Using this as a quotient for condemning the Makah whale hunt holds no water.
Before any activist starts raising the flag of holier than thou morality, perhaps they should first look at their own spiritual self - or lack of. Indigenous peoples are tied spiritually to the animals that they hunt. This spirituality drives everything from the preparation for the hunt to the final deposition of the animal. The rites and ceremonies before, during, and after the hunt have sustained the Makah for over 2,000 years and cannot be swept aside by those who lack the spirituality to understand such things.
The Makah whale hunt contributes to a healthy lifestyle for the people and increases pride in being a Makah. The Makah are still reeling under the repression, disruption, and eradication of their entire cultural and social institution caused by the U.S. government and European interlopers. The activist organizations aligned against the hunt are a continuation of past wrongs. The ability of the Makah to resume their hunting will contribute to the decrease of substance abuse, teenage pregnancies, an increasing juvenile crime rate, high school drop out rates, and other ills faced by the Tribe.
Let me address one other important aspect of the whale hunt that few understand. The American Indian people are generally considered to be one the unhealthiest populations living within the United States. Diabetes, for example, is 234% more prevalent among American Indian people than in all other U.S. ethnic groups. To take this further, American Indians have the highest rate of diabetes in the world. The biggest contributor to the problems of certain systemic illnesses such as diabetes and obesity is linked to food and nutrition. The introduction of western foods such as refined sugar, flour, and lard - first in the form of annuities and supplies - has had a negative effect on the health of the American Indian and Alaskan Native.
Studies on the link between genetics and nutrition related illness (nutrigenomics) shows that discrete populations such as the Makah and other indigenous peoples evolve a genetic code that is uniquely suited to a particular environment and its food resources. This genetic code regulates the biochemical processes in the body that produce enzymes, proteins, fatty acids, and thousands of other chemicals which function within the human body. The largest of these studies focused on the Pima Indians of Arizona, whose traditional diet and lifestyle was disrupted by western expansion of European immigrants around 200 years ago.
In short, the genetic makeup of the various indigenous peoples does not accommodate the trash foods of western culture. I personally can confirm this through observation of elderly Yupik and Inuit friends and family who become ill when denied their traditional subsistence diet for even a short time. The younger generations also suffer nutritional related problems. The allowance of the Makah to resume their hunt for a traditional food will help alleviate this.
Finally, lets look at the anti-American Indian organizations themselves that are aligned against the whale hunt. The activist organizations sticking their noses into Makah cultural business are multi-million dollar 501(c)(3) non-profits. They live off of the emotions of thousands who donate to them. The Animal Welfare Institute raked in over five million dollars in 2006. Watson’s Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is the baby of the bunch when taking in the money, but it raked in over two and a half million in 2006. Watson pays himself $80,000 a year, plus another $3,687 in extra benefits. Challenging the Makah is just another way for these organizations to increase their profits.
The news article included in the comment by “Anonymous” is a prime example of the general media’s negative attitude towards Native Americans (unless they are writing about a fabricated wannabe “tribe”). The article is far from balanced and is pointedly anti-Makah. It does support my contention that activists will be swarming out of the woodwork like cockroaches to outweigh rational thought in attempt to sway NOAA’s public hearings on the Makah hunt. Should they be allowed to succeed, count one more nail driven into the coffin of the continued existence of the American Indian people.
I fully reject, without whimpering, the anti-Indian position put forth by “Anonymous”.
Monday, May 19, 2008
By the late 1700’s, thousands of tribal members had died from epidemics of smallpox, tuberculosis, influenza and whooping cough that had been introduced by Europeans. Continuing outbreaks of smallpox in 1852 further diminished the southernmost Makah villages. Realizing that their hunting and land rights had to be protected from the onslaught of Europeans and the United States government, 42 Makah leaders signed a treaty with the government on 31 January, 1855. Known as the Treaty of Neah Bay, the treaty specifically allowed the Makah to retain their traditional hunting and fishing practices in exchange for 300,000 acres that were ceded to the government. At the same time, the Makah continued to resist assimilation attempts by the government, Indian agents, missionaries, and educators. They suffered under federal laws against potlatches, ceremonies, and speaking the Makah language (a member of the Wakashan language family).
Although the Treaty of Neah Bay allowed the Makah to continue their whaling, the environmentally conscious Makah voluntarily suspended their whale hunts in 1920 when international commercial whaling decimated the Eastern North Pacific gray whale population. This was a full 26 years before the International Whaling Commission was established and the gray whale bans that followed. It was a full 50 years before gray whales were listed as an endangered species under the U.S. Endangered Species Conservation Act. The actions of the Makah alone, long before any agency, represent their concern over the existence of the gray whale as part of their traditional culture.
The Eastern North Pacific gray whales were removed from the Federal Endangered Species List on 16 June, 1994. The following year, on 5 May, 1995, the Makah formally notified the U.S. government of their interest in resuming their treaty subsistence and ceremonial rights in taking gray whales. They asked that the government represent the tribe in seeking an annual quota from the International Whaling Commission. In 1998, the District Court for the Western District of Washington granted a judgment through NOAA Fisheries that the Makah could resume whaling, and in 1999 the Makah landed a gray whale. Immediately following were a series of reversals and denials of wavers submitted by the Makah, which still affect the ability of the Makah to resume their cultural practices today.
It’s important to note that while the Makah have been prevented by the U.S. government from harvesting the gray whale, the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling recognizes aboriginal whaling as a category distinct from commercial whaling and exempt from the current moratorium on commercial whaling. The ICRW specifically states that the International Whaling Commission may not allocate specific quotas to any particular nationality or group of whalers. Because of this prohibition, the IWC sets an overall aboriginal subsistence harvest for the relevant stock, based on the request of Contracting Governments on behalf of aboriginal hunters. In the case of the Makah, this is the U.S. government.
The major adversaries aligned against the Makah in the attempt to resume their traditional and ceremonial whaling hunt are numerous environmental organizations. These include organizations such as the Animal Welfare Institute, the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, the Church of the Earth, Prince of Whales, the Progressive Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) and the Humane Society of the United States. Besides filing court cases against the Makah, activists continue their rhetoric such as “I don't believe all traditions should be respected. If they don't need the meat, then why don't they just go out and touch the whale? If this need is truly spiritual, then why should the remedy be nutritional?"
Activists threaten the hunt by blocking canoes, scaring whales, and threatening Makah whalers. The Sea Shepard Conservation Society has used the massive 180 foot length and 687 ton enforcement ship, “Ocean Warrior“, with a one inch thick riveted steel hull ; a former U.S. Coast Guard patrol boat, the Sirenian; and a 6-ton submarine, the Mirage, to disrupt the hunt. The media also gets into the act, hovering around the hunt in order to send pictures of dead whales around the world and spread misinformation about Makah cultural practices. For example, the media has called the single shot high powered 50- caliber rifle that is used along with the thrust of the harpoon to kill the whale more humanely a “machine-gun”.
All of this is another case of non-Indians knowing what is better for the Indian than the Indians themselves. This is also in despite of the fact that the Makah were the first to realize and act upon the decline of the gray whale because of commercial whaling, and despite that fact that the Makah have created their own Marine Mammal Management Program into its Fisheries Management Office. The Tribe has a full-time, permanent marine mammal biologist, who conducts research and coordinates management efforts with local and national organizations such as the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The Tribe’s Marine Mammal program has also made important contributions to international efforts to protect and manage whale populations worldwide.
The Makah are not seeking to strike and land an unlimited number of gray whales. They are requesting to be allowed to take five whales a year, one whale for each of the five traditional Makah villages which were consolidated during the early years of the treaty reservation. They have more than shown their ability to be involved in the management of it’s resources for over a thousand years, and their ability to maintain a functional balance with the gray and humpback whales.
Yet, the tremendous pressures brought forth by national and international environmental and animal rights organizations prevents them from doing so.
Fortunately, the public has a chance to remedy this wrong that is being done to the Makah. The National Marine Fisheries Service/NOAA is holding hearings on a draft environmental impact statement that addresses the Tribe’s request to resume hunting for ceremonial and subsistence purposes. Based on hearing results, the NMFS will decide whether to issue a permit to the tribe. A similar permit has been granted to several Alaskan Native villages, which don't have a treaty protecting their hunt.
Hearings are to be held 28 May , 6:30 - 9:30 p.m. at the Vern Burton Memorial Community Center, 308 East 4th St., Port Angeles, Washington; 2 June, 2008, 6:30 - 9:30 p.m., Lake Union Park Armory-Great Hall, 860 Terry Ave. North, Seattle, Washington; and 5 June, 2008, 10:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m., NOAA Auditorium, 1301 East-West Highway, Silver Spring, Maryland.
It’s guaranteed that the environmental and animal activist groups will flood the hearings with an orchestrated full blown attack on the Makah. The call has gone out for a massive response to the comment period in order to derail any positive results for the Tribe. While environmental concerns must be met, they cannot be allowed to override either common sense or the well being of American Indians. Nor can they be allowed to arbitrarily disregard a formal treaty between a Tribe and the U.S. government.
The requested five whales a year will have little impact on the current gray whale estimated population of between 20,000 and 26,000. It is also far below the allotted quota of 620 gray whales over a five year period that is given to the Chukotka people of Russia, on the behest of the Russian government’s request to the IWC. Nor does it begin to touch the number of gray whales that die yearly, many of starvation.
Those, both Indian and non-Indian alike, who have a concern in the preservation of American Indian cultures and the spiritual and physical well being of American Indians need to respond to the chance to support the Makah people. Written comments by e-mail or letter should be sent to arrive before the 8 July deadline.
Submit written comments to: Steve Stone, NOAA Fisheries Northwest Region, 1201 NE Lloyd Blvd., Suite 1100, Portland, OR 97232. Comments may also be submitted via fax, 503-230-5441, Attn: 2008 Makah DEIS. E-mail comments should have the subject line of “2008 Makah DEIS” and may be sent to: MakahDEIS.email@example.com
Should we fail to respond in support of the Makah, we also fail in helping to repair failed treaties and the strengthening of the American Indian peoples - both physically and in spirit. We cannot allow big money environmental and animal activist organizations to control what the American Indian can or cannot do. The U.S. government does enough of that already.
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
The recent exposure by the Comanche Nation of Dr. Raymond Pierotti, Associate Professor of Indigenous Nations Studies and Biological/Environmental Studies at the University of Kansas, should remind us that Ward Churchill’s past dismissal from the University of Colorado did not end the saga of ethnic fraud in university faculties across the land.
Pierotti has continuously claimed to be Comanche during his tenure at the University, which began in 1992. Such a claim gave him an advantage in both hiring and personnel actions within the University. His claim as a member of the Comanche Nation was also made in association with receiving the title of the Tribal College/University Mentor of the Year in 1998, presented by the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS). His ethnic ploys while at the University are numerous, including an article published in the Journal of American Indian Education. At one point he was involved in the $400,000 solicitation for a documentary he was involved in, “Powwow for the Planet”. The website soliciting the funds described Poerotti as “a Penateka Band Comanche and one of a very few tenured Native American scientists in U.S. universities.”
Comanche students and teachers from both KU and Haskell first complained about Pierotti’s claims several years ago, but the University ignored the complaints. The Comanche Nation wrote the University in 2006 with their official tribal complaint. Still, the University chose to ignore the fact that they had an Indian imposter in the faculty. The Comanche Nation Business Committee sent another letter to the University on 2 January, 2008. Signed by eight tribal leaders, the letter included the following:
“The Comanche Nation is the only entity that can determine Comanche Nation citizenship. Pierotti’s self-identification as Comanche and the University of Kansas’ lack of effort to substantiate his claims shows disrespect to our tribal sovereignty and is an affront to the legitimate Comanche people. In essence, he is benefiting professionally and financially from unsubstantiated claims of Comanche identity for which the exclusive criterion is tribal enrollment.”
Finally, the University is acknowledging the complaints. As this is still in the initial stages, the final outcome is unknown. I suspect that we will see a re-run of Ward Churchill’s denials and acclamations. Pierotti, as did Churchill, has his own supporters with flawed logic.
Universities nationwide are laden with self-identified “Indian” professors who partake in ethnic fraud. By 2003, the situation had become so all-pervasive that the Association of American Indian and Alaska Native Professors issued a statement to address the problem. The association’s statement includes the recommendation that colleges and universities require documentation of tribal enrollment for those applicant professors claiming to be American Indian, and to include existing American Indian/Alaska Native faculty in the selection process.
After becoming concerned with “box checkers”, in 2007 the National Native Bar Association also made their own resolution concerning individuals lying about being Native American on university applications. Their guidelines are directed toward universities and colleges, which - like the AAIANP’s - are encouraged to require individuals who identify as Native American to provide information that will support their claims. Remember this as you continue to read this comment.
Even after exposure as frauds, many professors continue to rake in a small fortune based on their “tribal” claims. A prime example is the one time psychology professor of Evergreen State College, Terry Tafoya. He continues to rake in thousands of dollars per speaking engagements on mental health issues - complete in costume, with drum, long black (dyed) braids and stories of Indian mythology. This is despite the fact that Tafoya has falsified receiving a PhD (he has a Master’s from the University of Washington), and has lied about being an enrolled member of the Taos Pueblo. After it became known that Tafoya never received a PhD from UW, which he originally claimed, he tried to cover himself by saying that he had an “honorary PhD from the University of Alberta - which university officials there deny
Tafoya during a speaking engagement. Amazingly, legitimate American Indian organizations pay this guy large sums for speaking engagements and to work with tribal members.
While most Native American studies are taught by excellent professors, Indian and non-Indian alike, students would be well advised to thoroughly investigate the professor and the program before spending scarce funds and valuable time. There are some which should be met with great skepticism.
The insertion of concern by the National Native American Bar Association is worthy up to a point. The issue as they present it -Stop Academic Ethnicity Fraud/”Box-Checking” - certainly needs to be addressed. But, the NNABA’s approach to this can be likened to a doctor who is unable to heal himself or herself - yet tries to heal others. The NNABA’s own regular membership and associate membership requirements are sloppy. Both open memberships to: “All persons who are enrolled members of any Indian tribe or band, …….”
Note that this does not specify “any federally recognized tribe“, or even include “state” recognized tribes. The requirement of “any Indian tribe or band” leaves the door wide open. The consequences of this is that the NNABA has a questionable membership that includes individuals who are members of so-called “tribes” which are actually non-profit organizations of questionable history or validity as a tribe.
The current membership list on NNABA’s website is under construction, but the names and tribal affiliation of members can be accessed through older lists. This includes inviduals who belong to groups such as the Kispoko Sept of Ohio Shawnee, the Southern Cherokee Nation, and the Northern Cherokee Nation.
Accepting membership of attorneys with no valid tribal connection is no different than Universities which employ fake Indians as part of a faculty. Both actions commit fraud upon the public. As with universities, the NNABA should check their applicants for tribal affiliation, plus the validity of a tribe that a potential member claims to belong to. Hopefully, the NNABA will correct this in the near future. In the meanwhile, those who seek to hire a Native American attorney based on NNABA membership should follow the concept of caveat emptor.
Friday, May 2, 2008
The same misrepresentations can also creep into university and college Native American studies, such as at Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Missouri.
If a person can stand back for a moment and try to disregard the extreme damage fake tribes, pretend “Indian Chiefs”, and wannabe Indian professors do during their presentations, these can also be quite humorous. Two examples follow.
Pupils at the Ortona Elementary School in Daytona Beach, Florida, were given this entertaining impression of Cherokee Indians that was delivered during a 2004 Thanksgiving program “dispelling myths” that was given by “Chief Little Red Wolf” of the “Indian Creek Band of the Chickamauga Creek and Cherokee" located in Florida.
Perhaps the very best and most endearing photo I have ever seen is this one. This guy is part of Manataka’s “Bear Society of Arkansas“. His costume reminds me of a Teddy Bear I once has as a child. I couldn’t help myself from bursting out in laughter when I first saw it.
As ridiculous as some of the actions and presentations given by pretenders might seem, these folks are dead serious when creating their own brand of Indian traditions and history. School educators and the general public are often ill equipped to be able to discern truth from fiction. While presentations can be quite humorous to those who know better, they also contain an element that is deadly to the American Indian.
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
The misleading statements in the bills also give an indication of how thoroughly organizations such as the Muscogee Nation of Florida can fool individuals and governments into believing that the group is a legitimate historical Indian entity, drawing hundreds into their grasp. The revisionist history created steals the proud history of American Indians everywhere. Not least, such claims made by organizations like the Muscogee Nation cause millions of dollars to be diverted annually from governmental programs designed to provide services to legitimate tribes and Indians nationwide.
House Rules that are established at the beginning of each Congressional session usually require House members to read the Constitution and be able to cite the specific constitutional powers justifying legislation submitted to the full House. The introduction of H.R. 2028 makes it more than apparent that this is not done. It’s understandable that the Florida sponsors and co-sponsors of both bills wish to support their constituents. However, it’s inexcusable that they should do so without adequate research.
House committees have cited Article I, Section 8, Clause 3 (Commerce Clause) and Article II, Section 2, Clause 2 (Treaties) as their source of power to legislate over the American Indian. In reality, the Constitution gives absolutely no power to the House to become involved in Indian affairs. Zilch. This power is given solely to the President, with a Senatorial role of advising the President and voting on a treaty - including recognition of tribes. The only exception to this should be in the appropriation of funding.
The claims of authority for Congress to create tribes under the Commerce Clause, Treaty Clause, the Plenary Power Doctrine or any other non-enumerated powers are illusions that are made and defended by the government to support it’s long term strategy to solve the “Indian Problem”. These illusions, like the preverbal monster in the closet, become real only if they are accepted as such.
Because the Plenary Power concept is so all pervasive in everything that Congress does, and affects every segment of society, the perfect opportunity exists for groups to join together and expose it for what it is. The illusion needs to be dissipated and Congress should get back to following the Constitution.
Meanwhile, inventing recognized tribes where no tribe existed before has to cease. This is an usurped power that Congress does not have. Congress should be limited to the recognition of tribes that have been terminated, such as the Delaware in Oklahoma, or tribes that had treaties that were never ratified, such as the Gabrielino-Tongva in California or the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa in Montana (not to be confused with Delorme’s infamous Little Shell Pembina group in South Dakota).
To be realistic, Congress will never relinquish any power that has usurped. This leaves us with the only recourse of educating Congressional members about the lies and fallacies contained in many bills introduced before them. This includes a discourse with members of the Senate Committee of Indian Affairs. The invitation and acceptance of the testimony by the chairwoman of the Muscogee Nation in the September 2007 hearing is a prime example of how easily the Committee can be fooled.
This leaves us with two choices. We can either sit back and just hand everything over to the pretend Indians - thereby self-terminating our existence and ending the age old “Indian Problem” - or start putting the pressure on our elected officials to learn more about organizations introduced for federal recognition before creating a tribe out of thin air. We need to become the proverbial “squeaky wheel”.
At this time, S. 514 is in the Committee on Indian Affairs for consideration. H.R. 2028 is in the House Committee on Natural Resources. My personal experience has been, sadly, that members of the Senate Committee of Indian Affairs are not interested in receiving any input from a person unless that person is a member of their congressional district. I’m asking those among you who share my concerns and have members of the Committee who represent their district to please contact your senator about the fallacies contained in the attempt by the Muscogee Nation of Florida to become federally recognized. Those of you have members of the House Committee on Natural Resources representing your district, please contact them also.
You may use information provided in my comments in any correspondence you might have. Neither bill can be allowed to pass out of the respective committee.
Monday, April 28, 2008
Sec. 2 (10) (D) maintained a ceremonial area on Bruce Creek that was attended until the late 1920s;
The Walton County Historical Society was unable to identify such a ceremonial ground. It would be unusual for a Tribe or Band to abandon a ceremonial ground for other reasons than a death at the ground or the movement of the complete group a large distance away from the area. In the case of a death, the grounds are sometimes shifted only a short distance. Tribes commonly maintain their original ceremonial grounds even if tribal members move far away. It’s not uncommon for tribal members who have moved many states away from a Tribal location to return to those grounds for tribal ceremonies.
If Bruce has been the center of the Muscogee Nation for 150 years, why was the ceremonial ground moved over three hundred miles away (see following)?
Sec. 2 (11) the ceremonial area of the Nation, as in existence on the date of enactment of this Act--
(A) is located in the community of Blountstown, Florida, 1 of the reservations referred to in the Apalachicola Treaty of October 11, 1832; and
This is a weak and misleading attempt to link the Muscogee Nation with the reservation at Blountstown.
This reservation was a four square mile reserve that was awarded to John Blunt (Lafarka) under the 1823 Treaty of Moultrie Creek for his services to the U.S. Government in the Creek War of 1813-14, then as a guide for General Andrew Jackson during his invasion of Florida in 1818. This invasion resulted in the purchase of Florida from Spain. Five other Indians loyal to the U.S. also received similar reserves in Middle Florida under the same treaty.
The October 11, 1832 treaty provided for the surrender of their reservations and an indemnification of $13,000, with $3,000 in cash and the remainder $10,000 once they started their movement. Chiefs Blunt (Blount) and Davy were to continue to draw their $5,000 annuity payment as long as they were in the Territory of Florida, with a proportional final amount paid when they removed. The Indian parties involved were also presented with the opportunity to patent the land, but if they did so they would come under the laws of the territory.
Blount and his band removed from Florida in the spring of 1834 after selling the land to the U.S. government and they settled on the Trinity River in Texas - where Blount became a wealthy cotton planter.
The distance between Blountsville and Bruce is approximately 326 miles. Yet the headquarters of the Muscogee Nation of Florida is given as being at Bruce. While tribal ceremonial grounds are commonly removed a relatively short distance from a tribal headquarters for privacy purposes, this appears to be an excessive distance and is most likely based on the powwows originally being conducted there.
Sec. 2 (11) (B) is the site of continuing ceremonies, such as Green Corn, and traditional events;
The group, as the Eastern Creeks, originated their “ceremonies” as powwows. Powwows are public intertribal dances and are not traditional ceremonial events. It should be noted that Dr. Andrew Boggs Ramsey has held both the “Tribal Chairman” position and the “Ceremonial Chief” positions. Yet, tribal ceremonial activities and the regular day-to-day business activities mix together like oil and water. In other words, the two are completely separate in every way. They do not mix freely by the switching from one side to the other.
In a December 12, 1979 letter to Mrs. Alice Grady of the old Boggs Newsletter, Dr. Ramsey claimed to be Cherokee. One of the documents he listed to support his statement was a 1851 Tahlequah (Oklahoma) District Payment of $278.49 to a Polly Boggs Tarsequanyshkee. It’s more than apparent that Dr. Ramsey, as have many others trying to prove an Indian ancestry, merely has gone window shopping for any American Indian with the Boggs name.
Sec. 2 (12) local governments have recognized the community of Bruce as the center of tribal government of the Nation; and
This recognition is fairly recent and has no historical precedence. Such recognition is usually at the request of organizations such as the Eastern Creek Nation/Muscogee Nation of Florida and provides communities with potential added income through federal monies and tourism. Most communities, unless they are located in an area with a tribe that has a known historical presence there, have no experience in determining the validity of claims such as made by the Muscogee Nation of Florida.
That the local governments and organizations have no actual knowledge of the Eastern Creek Nation/Muscogee Nation of Florida as a historical tribe in the area is supported by their inability to identify, through correspondence or by telephone, the locations and/or history of the school, church, cemetery, and ceremonial grounds claimed in this resolution as being founded, maintained, or otherwise used by the Muscogee Nation of Florida. This is especially true if even the Walton County Historical Society was not able to identify these items.
If anything, community recognition of the Muscogee Nation of Florida indicates the shrewd publicity campaign conducted by the organization to invent itself as a historical tribe over the past 20 or so years. Similar recognition to recently founded organizations claiming to be tribes has been given by communities in other states.
Sec. 2 (13) during the 30-year period preceding the date of enactment of this Act, the Nation has received Federal, State, and local grants, and entered into contracts, to provide services and benefits to members of the Nation.
The “30” year period is given because this encompasses the complete period of the history of this “tribe“, including time spent as part of previous groups attempting to be federally recognized. The majority of grants received were no different than what any other organization is eligible for.
A Manpower Training Grant for $75,000 was received in 1976, which was used as a recruiting tool. Advertisements paid for by this grant read “ If you do not need job training but would like to sign up as a descendant of the American Indian….”
A Vista “mini-grant” was received in 1976, but was withdrawn in 1977. A grant for $85,000 was received in 1976 from the United Southeastern Tribes organization, but was withdrawn the following year after it was discovered that the funds were being misspent.
The group received $30,000 to support “several job fairs to bring employers and Native Americans with disabilities who are seeking jobs together“.
The group has also received grant monies from the Administration for American Indians (ANA), which has a long past history of funding anyone who merely says they are Indian. The Department of Agriculture has admitted to granting Indian program funds to anyone who self-identifies as American Indian. The Office of Indian Education provides Title VII grants to schools with no Indian students. Virtually every single similar group calling itself an American Indian “tribe” has received Federal grants for one contrived reason or another. Such grants do not necessarily mean that the receiving organization is American Indian or is recognized as a “tribe“. These grants are, however, symptomatic of a broken and wasteful system.
To be continued.
The school site is land partial number 20-1N-17-04000-002-0010 . The site was donated to the Bruce Women’s Club by the Walton School Board. The Bruce Women’s Club then donated the property to the Muscogee Nation of Florida. According to Walton County records, Sale Book 2733, Sale Page 4584, the deed transfer was on 8/30/2006.
The past president of the Bruce Women’s Club was Mazie (Ward) Rossell, who held major positions in the Muscogee Nation and who is the originator of much of the Nation’s “history”. The school is being used by the Muscogee Nation of Florida as it’s headquarters.
2. The size of the area directly North to the school is inadequate for stickball. The total perimeter length is approximately 113 feet (or 38 yards), and the perimeter width is approximately 46 feet (or 15 yards). The actual area for usage as a playing area appears to be approximately 92 feet (or 32 yards ) in length and 39 feet (or 13 yards) in width.
3. Stickball, like other Indian football games, has a religious connotation and are commonly played on or adjacent to the tribal ceremonial or stomp dance grounds. It is not merely a “game”. Played to please the Creator, stickball and similar football games are usually played only twice a year, once at the beginning of the ceremonial cycle, and once at the end. It’s doubtful that any traditional tribe would be playing stickball at this location for any reason.
NOTE: According to the Walton County records, the cemetery and school properties mentioned in the Senate and House bills were obtained by the Muscogee Nation of Florida within an eight month period prior to the introduction of these bills. Although they might have had access to these properties for a longer period through members of the organization who owned or had control over the property, it should be questioned why legal transfer was not made until the time that it occurred.
Sec. 2 (10)(C) in 1912, established a church that is recognized by the Methodist Conference as a Native American church; and
The Bruce United Methodist (Native American Church) is located at 269 Church Rd. Bruce, Fl. 32455 859-2343. The Methodist Archives Center of the Alabama-West Florida Conference has no records on the history of the church except what was provided to them by Mazie (Ward) Rossell. Mrs. Rossell was a “Chief” of the “Choctawhatchee clan” located at Bruce, a member of the “governing council of the Eastern Creeks“, and member of the Northwest Florida Creek Indian Council.
Mrs. Rossell was also a member of the Florida Democratic Committee for over 50 years. As a member of the Florida Silver-Haired Legislature, she was able to draft her own resolutions and send them to the state’s elected officials for consideration.
The only independent record from Mrs. Rossell’s claims about the church is a list of ministers who served the church. This list starts in 1930 with H.W. Chalk. It’s possible that William Joseph Ward, founder of the church, provided services in the early years. It’s said that he had the complete Bible memorized, and many marriage ceremonies took place in the Ward’s homes. However, Mr. Ward died in 1924, which leaves a blank of approximately six years recorded in it’s ministry.
The current minister is Rev. William A. Young, who was appointed to the church in 1998. During a short telephone conversation on 21 August, 2007, he stated that he did not know anything about the history of the church. When asked if there were many Indians who attended the church, he laughed and stated: “It’s kind of ridiculous for anyone to claim to be Indian today“.
According to Mrs. Rossell, the church was supposedly given the designation “Native American Church” by the Methodist Conference in 1991. A research of Conference Journals and minutes for 1991 and 1992 was made by personnel at the Methodist Archives Center in Montgomery, Alabama. There were no records found that indicated the church was recognized as a Native American Church by the Conference during this period, as claimed. There are separate indications that the designation as a Native American Church was initiated during a Ward family reunion, and has taken on that name from common usage by the family. Heavy donations to the church by the Eastern Creek Nation/Muscogee Nation of Florida and yearly Ward family reunion activities at the church have continued to bolster the image of the church as Native American.
An April 1992 church pamphlet authored by Mrs. Rossell, which is on file, describes the dedication of the church:
“It took approximately one-and-a-half years to complete the church building, and when the date was set for dedication, William Joseph Ward (Diamond Joe) sent school children across the dirt road to the one-room school house to locate their History books to follow along as he recited the Declaration of Independence.”
Now, I ask that if the history of the Muskogee Nation is true as given by them, why would they use a document that establishes their worst enemy - the United States - as part of their church dedication?
A farmer in Alabama, he was mustered into Company D of the Fifty-third Alabama Infantry Regiment (Alabama Partisan Rangers, Confederate) at the age of 31 on 1/1/1861. He moved to Walton County sometime after the war, appearing in the 1/1/1870 Walton County Census as a farmer on page 62, Family #406.
His entry from Alabama into CSA service , and moving to Walton County after the Civil War, is an important contrast in reality to the Ward family claims in a lined school composition book diary that: “October 1854: Our people are afraid to get together for any reason” and “October 1859: More than 150 people in this part of Florida was sent West for a bounty…we no longer say the word chief.” (BIA documentation).
A similar attempt to claim a Holmes Valley Church was made by the Eastern Creeks and Ward family, as part of the earlier Lower Muscogee Creek Tribe East of Mississippi BIA petition. This claim was unsubstantiated.
While there might be some mixed race descendants of the Uchee remaining in Walton County, they do not equate with any existing tribe or the Eastern Creek Nation. While most modern Uchee are members of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation of Oklahoma, many do not consider themselves Creek - but of a separate ethnic group.
Sec. 2 (10) in the community of Bruce, the Nation--
(A) beginning in the early 1860s, used and maintained the Antioch Cemetery, which remains in use by members of the Nation as of the date of enactment of this Act;
Other than the claim in this Bill, there is no historical documentation that labels this cemetery as originating with, belonging to, or being used by the Eastern Creek Nation as a burial ground. Inquiries about the origin have been unsuccessful. The common opinion is that it was started as a family cemetery.
The earliest identified graves in Antioch Cemetery date to the early 1880’s (Virginia Ward, 1882 -1882, 8c Row 7). Twenty-nine of the cemetery graves belong to the Ward family, which constitutes the largest number belonging to one family. The second largest number of identified graves belonging to one family is of the Bozeman family, with eight.
There are approximately 52 unknown graves in the cemetery. Rather than being in one vicinity or plot, they are scattered throughout the 14 rows of the cemetery among identified graves. This would mean the unlikelihood that they were all the earliest of graves or that they all belonged to older specific American Indian Creek burials.
The cemetery is land parcel number 12-1S-18-14000-001-0020. According to Walton County records, this property was donated to the Muscogee Nation of Florida on 7/10/2006. It is recorded in Sale Book 2727, Page 4198.
Antioch Cemetery, Bruce, Florida
Comments to be continued.
Sec. 2 (7)(A) in 1974, the State of Florida established the Northwest Florida Creek Indian Council to manage issues relating to Creek Indians in northwest Florida;
The Northwest Florida Creek Indian Council was not established in 1974, but in 1975. It was the Florida Governor's Council on Indian Affairs, Inc. that was established in 1974, under Governor Askew’s Executive Order #74-23.
The statute creating the NW Florida Creek Indian Council, created by House Bill 2306, took effect on 1 July, 1975 without the bill receiving the Governor’s signature. Why the Governor refused to sign the bill is open to conjecture, as he was from NW Florida and interested in Indian affairs. In 2001, the Florida Creek Indian Council in F.S. 285.19 was removed from Chapter 285 and ceased to exist. Source: State of Florida
Sec 2 (7)(B) in 1978, the Council held an election for representatives to the tribal government known as the `Florida Tribe of Eastern Creek Indians', which is now the Muscogee Nation of Florida;
First of all, tribes elect their own government and council, not outside local, state, or federal agencies. Claim (3)(A) and this claim are in conflict. Claim (3)(A) states that the organization’s tribal government continued to be through traditional methods. Having tribal government representatives elected by the NW Council is not a traditional process.
The initial election was held on June 19, 1976 and centered around five groups in Pensacola who were fighting each other to be in charge of receiving federal grants. As with other similar organizations in other states, some of these “clans” were recently split from each other. The “Lower Muskogees” had split into a group called the Coweta Clan - which was said to have been dominated by it’s evangelical Baptist leaders. This split is said to have occurred because of disagreements over the scheduling of powwow dance practices. Then the Cowetas split after a bitter schism of their own that involved the management of their dance group, plus charges of favoritism in assigning dance roles and racial discrimination. Tom Crooks split from the Tuckabatchee Clan because of a quarrel with another member and formed the Coosawattie Creek clan. (Crook described his Clan as being composed of local Eagle Scouts and other non-Creeks, as well as Creek descendants.)
Bitter fighting between the groups escalated when Governor Askew announced his appointments to the eleven member Council. Pensacola 's fifth clan was established around this time by Perloca Linton. She claimed that her group would conduct the election. The Pensacola News-Journal, along with area non-Indians, joined the fray. The newspaper supported the legislature's council over Mrs. Linton's group.
Fewer that 400 people voted in the election, which was won by TV wrestling narrator Leroy Morris. Morris announced that he would head a council of representatives from seven panhandle counties-over which he will be chief. Subcouncils were also to be formed in each county will also be formed. Morris’s own Creek blood was questioned by other Clans, which claimed that Morris had
announced at a Creek powwow he emceed in the fall of 1975 that he wasn't an Indian and became an honorary tribe member at the weekend affair.
Morris then orchestrated a recruiting campaign to increase Eastern Creek members. According to Jack Bridges, a spokesperson for the Escambia County School Board, school children were even signed up by Eastern Creek leaders during class hours. Morris is reportedly to have explained this enrollment campaign by the statement: "The more people we represent the more federal funds we can qualify for."
Source: Extracts from a Tampa Times series on the Eastern Creeks and the NW Florida Creek Indian Council by Jim Seale.
A similar situation of enrolling school students and families occurred more recently by the “Lost Cherokee of Arkansas and Missouri in their scam with Arkansas School Districts to receive Office of Indian Education Title VII grants and increase their enrollment base.
Sec. 2 (8) in 1986, the Senate and House of Representatives of the State of Florida passed resolutions recognizing the Muscogee Nation of Florida as an Indian tribe;
The 1986 resolution (Senate Concurrent Resolution 657) recognized Creek history and presence in Florida in general. It did not provide state recognition as a tribe to the organization.
When the Florida Tribe of Eastern Creeks attempted to establish a bingo hall in 1988 (the group had hired a Pensacola management firm to build and operate a 50,000-square-foot bingo parlor on 26 acres in south Walton County), Senator Childers inquired about the legality of the organization being a state recognized tribe. As a result, the Florida Attorney General issued Advisory Legal Opinion Number: AGO 88-18, dated May 6, 1988, which makes it perfectly clear that the 1986 resolution “does not, in my opinion, grant any additional rights to the Eastern Creek Indians but merely acknowledges their presence in Florida. Moreover, the resolution, which merely expresses the will or opinion of the Legislature does not have the force of law.”
The 1988 opinion provides the following references:
FN1 See, Black's Law Dictionary, Resolution 1474 (4th rev. ed. 1968) ("the adoption of a motion, the subject-matter of which would not properly constitute a statute; such as a mere _expression of opinion; ...a vote of thanks...."). Cf., 62 C.J.S. Municipal Corporations s. 411, stating: “A resolution has also been distinguished from an ordinance in that an ordinance is a continuing regulation, a permanent rule of conduct or government, while a resolution ordinarily is an act of a special or temporary character, not prescribing a permanent rule of government, but is merely declaratory of the will or opinion of a municipal corporation in a given matter, and in the nature of a ministerial or administrative act, and is not a law.”
FN2 658 F.2d 310 (5th Cir.1981), cert. denied, 455 U.S. 1020 (1982).
FN3 107 S.Ct. 1083 (1987).
The State of Florida does not have any state recognized tribes. It only recognizes tribes that are Federally recognized.
A similar claim was made in the earlier BIA petition that included the “Creek Nation East”. It was asserted that The Creek Nation East was recognized as an Indian Tribe by Florida under Florida Statute F.S. 1979, Chapter 285, Indian Reservations. However, the statute actually referred to the Muscogee or Cow Creek bands of the Seminole Tribe of Florida. (F.S.: Ch 285:06(2) and Ch 285:07(1).
Note that it is common for organizations such as this to claim to be state recognized, when they are not. The URB and it’s involvement with the Lewis and Clark Mint pouches is but one example.
To be continued.
Sunday, April 27, 2008
SEC. 2. FINDINGS.
Congress finds that--
Comment: Findings 1 through 3 are generalities similar to the claims made in previous recognition attempts of which members of the Muscogee Nation, as Eastern Creeks in Walton and Washington counties, were party to. These claims can be dismissed in the same manner as previously done through extensive BIA studies and review of published historical and anthropological sources. See the BIA determination on this group:
Creeks East of the Mississippi 010 CEM-V001-D005 Not Acknowledged Proposed Finding Documents 1981.01.29 Recommendation and summary of evidence for proposed finding against Federal acknowledgement of the Lower Muskogee Creek Tribe - East of the Mississippi, Inc. of Cairo, Georgia pursuant to 25 CFR 54.
Sec. 2 (4) members of the Nation--
(A) participated in the 1814 Treaty of Ft. Jackson and the Apalachicola Treaty of October 11, 1832; and
This appears to be an attempt to associate the Muscogee Nation of Florida with historical treaties based on an unsubstantiated generality. It is also an attempt to define the two different Indian groups involved in the above treaties as one.
The 1814 treaty of Ft. Jackson was an agreement and capitulation concerning the Red Sticks only, and did not involve all Creeks.
The Apalachicola Treaty of October 11, 1832, was with the Apalachicola (also known as Pallachacola), who were related to the Creeks. There were actually two treaties with the Apalachicola, the second being June 18, 1833. Both of these treaties concerned the ceding of lands to the U.S..
For those who do not have an available copy of Kappler’s Volume II (Treaties, 1778-1883), the treaties can be read online at http://digital.library.okstate.edu/kappler/
I believe that none of the treaties show a historical affiliation that can be substantiated with the Muscogee Nation of Florida’s claims.
(B) were included in the Abbott-Parsons Creek Census, dated 1832 and 1833;
Another generality without substantial evidence. The complete census, including towns, names of heads of families, numbers of males, females, and slaves in each family can be found online at:
There were additional Creek census’ taken for various purposes. The other major census was the 1843 Creek census, taken from house to house and recording the number of males and females in age groups. The copy of this census has not been microfilmed and is in the National Archives.
Sec 2 (5) members of the Nation have established an ancestral claim to land taken from the Nation by General Andrew Jackson in the aftermath of the War of 1812 pursuant to the 1814 Treaty of Ft. Jackson;
Another generality without substantial evidence. Individuals central to the Muscogee Nation of Florida claim as a tribe were actually fairly prosperous land owners, having purchased tracts of land from the U.S. government under the April 24, 1820 Public Lands Act during the period from 1897 to 1912. Documents showing similar land purchases by the Ward, Boggs and Ramsey families - which are heavily involved in the “history” of the Muscogee Nation - are on file.
Of particular interest are the land purchases and dates of purchase by the Ward family in Walton County, since this is the location that the Muscogee Nation claims a historical connection as the governing location for over 150 years.
William J. Ward of Walton County
Certificate No. 25394
5th August 1897
Certificate No. 13141
160 and fifteenth hundredths acres
5th August 1897
Certificate No. 19022
159 and ninety-four hundredths acres
11 March 1905
Document No. 63089
20 May 1909
Patent No. 255136
159 and eighty-seven hundredths acres
25 March 1912
Jessie Joseph Ward of Walton County
Certificate No. 19022
159 and ninety- four hundredths acres
11 March 1905
Certificate No. 21500
8 May 1908
Sec. 2. (6) beginning in 1971, the Secretary of the Interior distributed to members of the Nation in 3 actions per capita payments for land claim settlements;
The three Docket claim awards were made to approximately 7,000 individuals throughout Eastern United States. Approximately 50,000 applied and were included in the 1971 Census, most from the rolls of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation of Oklahoma as of that year. The recipients of the award were not necessarily identical to or limited to the groups that originally petitioned.
In addition, receipt of these awards did not require a showing of continuous political existence as a community since time of removal. The awards were not given to the Eastern Creeks as a “Nation”. The BIA and the Claims Court dealt with the “Eastern Creeks” only because it presented itself as an organization claiming to represent Florida Creek descendants in matters involved in pursing these claims. The receipt of these payments does not argue the fact the recipients were part of a “tribe” or constitutes recognition of the Eastern Creek Nation as a tribe.
Members of the Ward family were included in these claims, based on documentation they provided. It should be noted that the documentation identifying them as Creek Indians has since then been shown to be a fabrication of the 1950’s. The Ward family researcher who exposed the fabricated documents is the great-great grandson of W.J. Ward. He suggests that the documents might have been forged in order to participate in the Creek claim awards. Other current members of the Muscogee Nation of Florida, such as the whole Hanks family, were rejected.
A large part of the Muscogee Nation of Florida claims originate around the Ward family in Bruce. Ward family researcher, Jerry Merritt, writes:
“The Ward Record 1840 was donated to the Washington County, Florida Public Library in Dec 1978 and from there a copy found its way into the Special Records Collection at the Pace Library at the University of West Florida. The copy was subsequently “discovered” there and published in the S.E.N.A. (Southeastern Native American) Exchange, Vol 4, Number 1 in the Fall of 1996.
This “record” is so obviously contrived that it’s difficult to even find a starting place when pointing out its shortcomings. The crafters of the Ward Record apparently had only vaguely familiarized themselves with the Ward lineage before attempting this construct and it definitely shows in the final product.”
Ron Jones is another Ward family researcher who has come up with the same conclusions as Merritt. Of the Ward family, he writes:
“All of the older researchers and family members with whom I have spoken or corresponded state that they could not remember any talk of Creek Indian lore tied to the WARD family before the 1950s. This includes both the families of James B. WARD and Elijah W. WARD. Ward papers, that I consider reliable, dated prior to 1950 do not mention the Creek Indians as ancestors. Otis Ward, a descendant of Elijah Ward, wrote paper that is a good example. It is dated ca 1959 and does not mention Creek Indians; I feel sure that he would have if he had knowledge of such lore.”
“Two so-called documents that are dated prior to 1950 will be addressed later in this summary. This is the period of time when a movement began by the Creek Tribe (of Oklahoma) to be reimbursed for the land that was taken away from them by the U. S. Government. There were rumors that those who could prove that they were Creek descendants would get a share as high as $90,000 under Docket 21. There is just no easy or nice way to state it: the motivation for many researchers was money. This phenomenon was not unique to the Creek Tribe or to the WARD family as a similar process occurred with other Tribes and families. It is only fair to point out that there were a few researchers during this time period who were motivated only by a desire to learn their family history, but their efforts were overshadowed by those in quest of the money. Some of those who started out for all the wrong reasons did not like the charade that evolved and tried to distance themselves from it.”
“I accepted most of the lore in the WARD family in 1985. After a few years I started asking questions for which there were no credible answers. I found it necessary to research it for myself and the bottom line is that there are numerous fallacies in the WARD research of West Florida and South Alabama. Some of these fallacies are rather obvious; others take a little more effort to disprove. This data has found its way into a number of texts, onto the Internet, and it is widely circulated in individual genealogies: in general, it is not reliable. Some of it has even been endorsed by respected publications in which too many people are too quick to accept on their reputation alone. I am not alone in these beliefs, but I was one of the first researchers to speak out. I am no longer part of a minority as a growing number of researchers are now asking the same questions that I began asking years ago and coming to the same conclusions.”
At the conclusion of the summary of his discoveries, Jones adds:
“As this new millennium begins, I challenge each and every researcher, or interested cousin, who reads this to join me in helping to preserve a WARD heritage based on truth. Too many of us have worked too hard to watch our family history turn into a "Web of deceptions" and to leave our heirs a farce for a family history.”
Comments to be continued in the next posting ---
My comments in following posts will address the claims made in Section 2 - Findings. Sections 1 and 3 through 7 deal with administrative type items only. However, these other sections are important because they include the benefits the organization will receive from the federal government if recognized.
To extend Federal recognition to the Muscogee Nation of Florida.
IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES
February 7, 2007
Mr. NELSON of Florida (for himself and Mr. MARTINEZ) introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on Indian Affairs
To extend Federal recognition to the Muscogee Nation of Florida.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.
This Act may be cited as the `Muscogee Nation of Florida Federal Recognition Act'.
SEC. 2. FINDINGS.
Congress finds that--
(1) the Muscogee Nation of Florida is comprised of lineal descendants of persons who were historically part of the Creek Confederacy, which relocated from Daleville, Alabama, and other areas of southern Alabama to the State of Florida between 1812 and 1887;
(2) those Creek persons settled in the north Florida panhandle in autonomous communities (referred to in the constitution of the Muscogee Nation as `Townships'), continuing the lifestyle and traditions practiced by the historic Creek Nation of Alabama and Georgia;
(3)(A) on dissolution of the Creek Confederacy, the ancestors of current members of the Muscogee Nation of Florida relocated and reestablished home sites, traditions, ceremonial centers, tribal
government (including through the traditional appointment of tribal leaders), and tribal economy in rural areas of the State of Florida;
(B) the relocation described in subparagraph (A) did not prevent the Nation from--
(i) continuing to exercise the governing powers of the Nation;
(ii) providing services to members of the Nation; or
(iii) enjoying the communal lifestyle of the Nation; and
(C) some members of the Nation remain on original home sites of their Creek ancestors;
(4) members of the Nation--
(A) participated in the 1814 Treaty of Ft. Jackson and the Apalachicola Treaty of October 11, 1832; and
(B) were included in the Abbott-Parsons Creek Census, dated 1832 and 1833;
(5) members of the Nation have established an ancestral claim to land taken from the Nation by General Andrew Jackson in the aftermath of the War of 1812 pursuant to the 1814 Treaty of Ft. Jackson;
(6) beginning in 1971, the Secretary of the Interior distributed to members of the Nation in 3 actions per capita payments for land claim settlements;
(7)(A) in 1974, the State of Florida established the Northwest Florida Creek Indian Council to manage issues relating to Creek Indians in northwest Florida; and
(B) in 1978, the Council held an election for representatives to the tribal government known as the `Florida Tribe of Eastern Creek Indians', which is now the Muscogee Nation of Florida;
(8) in 1986, the Senate and House of Representatives of the State of Florida passed resolutions recognizing the Muscogee Nation of Florida as an Indian tribe;
9) the community of Bruce in Walton County, Florida, has been a governing center for the Nation for more than 150 years;
(10) in the community of Bruce, the Nation--
(A) beginning in the early 1860s, used and maintained the Antioch Cemetery, which remains in use by members of the Nation as of the date of enactment of this Act;
(B) between 1895 and 1947, maintained a school that was attended by members of the Nation;
(C) in 1912, established a church that is recognized by the Methodist Conference as a Native American church; and
(D) maintained a ceremonial area on Bruce Creek that was attended until the late 1920s;
(11) the ceremonial area of the Nation, as in existence on the date of enactment of this Act--
(A) is located in the community of Blountstown, Florida, 1 of the reservations referred to in the Apalachicola Treaty of October 11, 1832; and
(B) is the site of continuing ceremonies, such as Green Corn, and traditional events;
(12) local governments have recognized the community of Bruce as the center of tribal government of the Nation; and
(13) during the 30-year period preceding the date of enactment of this Act, the Nation has received Federal, State, and local grants, and entered into contracts, to provide services and benefits to members of the Nation.
SEC. 3. DEFINITIONS.
In this Act:
(1) MEMBER- The term `member' means--
(A) an individual who is an enrolled member of the Nation as of the date of enactment of this Act; and
(B) an individual who has been placed on the membership rolls of the Nation in accordance with this Act.
(2) NATION- The term `Nation' means the Muscogee Nation of Florida (formerly known as the `Florida Tribe of Eastern Creek Indians').
(3) SECRETARY- The term `Secretary' means the Secretary of the Interior.
(4) TRIBAL COUNCIL- The term `Tribal Council' means the governing body of the Nation.
SEC. 4. FEDERAL RECOGNITION.
(1) IN GENERAL- Federal recognition is extended to the Nation.
(2) APPLICABILITY OF LAWS- All laws (including regulations) of the United States of general applicability to Indians or nations, Indian tribes, or bands of Indians (including the Act of June 18, 1934 (25 U.S.C. 461 et seq.)) that are not inconsistent with this Act shall be applicable to the Nation and members.
(b) Federal Services and Benefits-
(1) IN GENERAL- On and after the date of enactment of this Act, the Nation and members shall be eligible for all services and benefits provided by the Federal Government to federally recognized Indian tribes without regard to--
(A) the existence of a reservation for the Nation; or
(B) the location of the residence of any member on or near any Indian reservation.
(2) SERVICE AREA- For the purpose of the delivery of Federal services to members, the service area of the Nation shall be considered to be--
(A) the community of Bruce in Walton County, Florida; and
(B) an area in the State of Florida in which members reside that is bordered--
(i) on the west by the Escambia River; and
(ii) on the east by the St. Marks River.
SEC. 5. CONSTITUTION AND BYLAWS.
(a) In General- The constitution and bylaws of the Nation shall be the constitution and bylaws of the Tribal Council dated January 21, 2001 (including amendments), as submitted to the Secretary for approval on recognition.
(b) New Constitution and Bylaws- On receipt of a written request of the Tribal Council, the Secretary shall hold a referendum for members for the purpose of adopting a new constitution and bylaws, in accordance with section 16 of the Act of June 18, 1934 (25 U.S.C. 476).
SEC. 6. TRIBAL COUNCIL.
The Tribal Council--
(1) shall represent the Nation and members; and
(A) enter into any contract, grant agreement, or other agreement with any Federal department or agency;
(B) carry out or administer such programs as the Tribal Council determines to be appropriate to carry out the contracts and agreements; and
(C) designate a successor in interest pursuant to a new constitution or bylaw of the Nation adopted under section 5(b).
SEC. 7. MEMBERSHIP ROLL.
The membership roll of the Nation shall be determined in accordance with the membership criteria established by the ordinance of the Nation numbered 04-01-100 and dated February 7, 2004.