Ojibwe Tribes Join Forces to Demand Full Cultural Resources Survey

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January 4, 2018 – On Tuesday, the 5 Ojibwe bands intervening in Minnesota’s Line 3 case joined forces on an assertive legal action for the first time in this 4+ year battle.  They filed an appeal of the Public Utilities Commission’s (PUC) recent decision to exclude the cultural resources survey from the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). Their legal brief meticulously documents the State’s consistent disregard for tribal rights and tribal concerns throughout this process, and profound failure to assess impacts to historic and cultural properties and treaty-protected resources.  The tribes asked the PUC to halt the process until a full survey of cultural resources is completed for the entire corridor and all alternative routes, with that data included in the EIS so that it can inform the PUC’s permit decisions.

“The state’s historic properties work on the Line 3 Replacement project to date has been so inadequate that it could be used as a ‘what not to do’ example in future guidance.”

– Joint Tribal Petition (Fond du Lac, Mille Lacs, Leech Lake, Red Lake, and White Earth Bands of Chippewa), 1/2/18

In early December, the PUC declared the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for Line 3 “inadequate” and asked the Department of Commerce to put some bandaids on it.  One of those bandaids is a single sentence stating that if permits are granted, construction cannot begin until an ongoing survey of tribal cultural resources along a portion of the proposed route is complete.  The Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa (FDL), with support from all the other tribal, environmental, and landowner intervenors, argued assertively that the EIS should not be finalized until the survey is complete and the data analyzed and included in the EIS.  They also cautioned the State of Minnesota, with great passion, against repeating the profound cultural disrespect shown in the MN Department of Transportation’s archaeological debacle on the Fond du Lac Reservation last summer.

But the PUC decided that the survey data does not need to be included in the EIS, or even included in the public record before the PUC makes its decision about Line 3 permits!  They simply want it complete before construction begins.  This means they think the existence and locations of cultural resources are irrelevant to their decisions about whether or not to permit the pipeline, or which route to choose.  The tribes are asking the PUC to show some respect, acknowledge the importance of our sacred places, and follow the law.

Read the full article from Stop Line 3/Honor the Earth.

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Rethinking Local Archaeology: Indigenous Consultation at Inception

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A discussion about policy at the Abbe Museum, Bar Harbor, Maine:

Archaeologists participating in a new advisory committee with the Abbe Museum will discuss the present and future of their field at the Abbe on Sunday, Nov. 5, at 7 p.m.

“The Abbe was founded in 1926 around goals to collect, preserve and interpret the archaeological record of the region, and we have been doing archaeological research in the Wabanaki homeland since 1928,” Julia Gray wrote on the museum’s blog. “However, like most archaeological work in North America, this was not done with any involvement with or consideration for the Wabanaki people themselves for many decades. In recent years, the museum has begun to work more collaboratively on some aspects of our archaeological content, but as a decolonizing museum, we know that we need to do so much more.”

Panelists include Kristen Barnett (Aleut), lecturer in anthropology at Bates College; Dave Putnam, lecturer of science at the University of Maine at Presque Isle, where he teaches anthropology, archaeology, glacial geology and climate change; Paulette Steeves (Cree-Metis), assistant professor indigenous anthropologist-archaeologist at Mount Allison University in New Brunswick, Canada; and Larry Zimmerman, professor of anthropology and museum studies, public scholar of Native American representation and adjunct professor, Native American and indigenous studies at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.

The archaeological advisory committee is comprised of native archaeologists and others working in the field who will guide the museum’s archaeological research, collections management and interpretation fully into a decolonizing framework.

Doug Harris in Northampton Aug. 5th: Let the Landscape Speak

A fundraiser to support the Indigenous Tribes of the Northeast in protecting Ceremonial Stone Landscape Features in Sandisfield, Massachusetts.

Presenter: Doug Harris
Preservationist for Ceremonial Landscapes
& A Deputy Tribal Historic Preservation Officer for the Narragansett Indian Tribal Historic Preservation Office (NITHPO)

Doug Harris will present a history of Ceremonial Stone Landscape Features in the Northeast region and the struggle to preserve them. The hills and valleys of New England are dotted with living prayers of stone (Ceremonial Stone Landscapes) created by the Indigenous peoples of this region. These stone structures were built to create and restore harmony between human beings and Mother Earth. The prayers that they embody continue to live as long as the stones are kept intact.

As has happened before in other places, our government, more specifically, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has been complicit in the destruction of these sacred stone landscapes. Over 1/3 of the 73 features identified in Sandisfield have been desecrated by the construction of a new gas pipeline. This occurred because FERC approved the project before the stone features were identified, and then failed to consult with the tribes in a meaningful manner to resolve the adverse impacts. While harm has been done, this is also an opportunity to support the Indigenous peoples of our region so they can challenge FERC’s behavior in the courts. If successful, ceremonial stone landscapes will be preserved, not destroyed, a result that would have national implications.

Saturday, August 5, 2017
3:00-5:00 pm
First Churches, 129 Main Street
Northampton, MA
The church is handicap accessible and on a bus line
Please enter on the Center Street side of the building
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You can make a tax deductible contribution in one of two ways

1) Write a check to Creative Thought and Action (memo: CSL), and mail it to Climate Action Now’s treasurer: Rene Theberge, 250 Shutesbury Road, Amherst, MA, 01002.

2) Donate online by going to https://tinyurl.com/protectsacredstones

Please share far and wide with friends and family.

For more info and/or to help with this campaign contact Susan Theberge
Please include CSL in the subject line.

Is Nothing Sacred? Archaeological Reviews and Tribal Lands

willits ca aerial pomo lands

The Northern Pomo people of California thrived in the lush wetland valley known as Bito’m-kai for millennia, fishing salmon from percolating creeks, gathering natural medicines and managing natural resources to feed thousands.

By the time anthropology researcher Samuel Barrett arrived in the early 1900s, many of the Pomo village sites he assiduously recorded had been abandoned. Barrett noted that the village of Yami, on the south shore of the valley, once “supported a considerable Indian population.”

More than a century later, state road building officials emailed chairmen of the Pomo tribes: Yami had been affected during nighttime construction of the Willits Bypass, a $300 million, 5.9-mile roadway that would cleave the valley. The village site had not been recorded by the California Department of Transportation’s archaeologists. Contractors had pierced it with 1,100 wick drains burrowing 60 feet underground and covered the area with tons of fill dirt.

Although it received no national media coverage, the 2013 destruction of Yami presaged what happened at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation on Sept. 3 – one of the most infamous days of the Dakota Access Pipeline protests. With cameras rolling, contractors started pushing dirt over burial sites within view of protesters.

Read the full report by Mark Dadigan in Reveal from the Center for Investigative Reporting.

Nova Scotia Premier Apologizes to Mi’kmaq Chiefs and Elders

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Premier Stephen McNeil was making every effort to move from insult to consult after a meeting Thursday with the Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq Chiefs. “The meeting started out this morning with an opportunity for me to express my regret and my apologies to the chiefs and to members of their communities,” McNeil said.

“The words that were attached to a brief that went before the court were not mine and not my feelings. I believe the foundation of this province and this country is in those treaties. We have a duty to consult, the Supreme Court has dealt with this issue a long time ago and it’s my responsibility as the premier of this province to make sure that we follow through on respecting the rights of the Mi’kmaq.”

Respect was not at the forefront in a Nova Scotia Supreme Court appeal case last week when Justice Department lawyer Alex Cameron described the complainants, the Sipekne’katik band, as a conquered people who had surrendered their sovereignty to the British Crown in the 1700s, negating the duty of the province to consult on industrial projects.

Read the full story at localxpress.ca.

Refer back to the incident that provoked this apology.

Mi’kmaq Are ‘Conquered People’ Says Nova Scotia Government Lawyer

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A legal brief submitted on behalf of the province of Nova Scotia denies treaty rights and labels the Mi’kmaq as conquered peoples.

“To suggest that we are ‘conquered’ is a racist taunt,” wrote Millbrook Chief Bob Gloade in a media release. “At its worst, it has been used against Indigenous Canadians to perpetuate or justify a state of inferior legal, social or socio-economic conditions.”

The brief is part of a court case centred on consultation with the Sipekne’Katik Band over a natural gas storage project. The band asked for a judicial review of the provincial permits that approved the Alton Gas project. But a court case about whether the Crown meaningfully consulted with one band over a particular project, has brought up what many are calling offensive arguments about treaty rights that extend to all Mi’kmaq in Nova Scotia.

Read the full story on APTN National News.

Alton Gas Resistance: NS Government’s Legal Attack

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Today Sipekne’katik First Nation goes to the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia to challenge the provincial government’s consultation process regarding the Alton Gas project. Sipekne’katik’s essential argument is that the band was not adequately consulted about the project, despite the obvious direct impacts it will have on the community. The provincial government’s legal strategy to defend against this claim is deeply troubling.

The province is attempting to win this case by undermining the sovereignty of the Mi’kmaq people, claiming that only “unconquered peoples” are owed a duty of consultation. It argues that Sipekne’katik First Nation ‘submitted’ to the Crown in the 1760 treaty, and is therefore not owed the government’s constitutional duty to consult.

Read the full update at The Council of Canadians online.