VCNAA Proclaims Support for Standing Rock #NoDAPL

At the regular meeting of the Vermont Commission on Native American Affairs, held in Montpelier on January 11, 2017, the Commission adopted a Proclamation in support of the actions of the water protectors at and near the Standing Rock, North Dakota community, opposing disruption, destruction, and degradation of the the natural and sacred landscape.  The proclamation was written by Commissioner Joelen Mulvaney and adopted by consensus of all in attendance. pdf here: vcnaa-standing-rock-proclamation. Full text below:

Proclamation of Support for Lakota, Dakota and Nakota at Standing Rock, North Dakota by the Vermont Commission on Native American Affairs

Whereas the Commission is charged by law to recognize the historic and cultural contributions of Native Americans in Vermont, to protect and strengthen Native American heritage, and to address needs in state policy, programs, and actions.

Whereas the Commission develops policies and programs to benefit Vermont’s Native American Indian population.

Whereas the Commission is committed to protecting and preserving sacred, culturally sensitive and historical sites crucial to strengthening Native American heritage and promoting understanding of indigenous conservation efforts since time immemorial.

Whereas the natural environment, grandfather mountains and ridges, forests and wetlands, lakes, rivers and streams and birds, animals and fish are integral to Abenaki culture, history, tradition, heritage and spirituality.

Whereas indigenous people who have been protecting and preserving sacred and historical sites and natural resources around the world and in Vermont are under siege by the pressures of industrial energy production.

Whereas the Commission recognizes the collective struggle of indigenous people to bring recognition to their cultural contributions and heritage, including the natural environment on Turtle Island, from Ndakinna to Kanaka Oiwi; from the northeast woodlands of Vermont to the islands of Hawaii.

And whereas sites such as Rocky Ridge in Missisquoi (Swanton), the Kwanitekw (Connecticut River) watershed, the Green Mountain National Forest in Searsberg and Botambakw (Lake Champlain) are places where industrial energy development threatens the preservation of historic, sacred and culturally sensitive sites.

The Commission proclaims support for those protectors at Standing Rock, North Dakota who are resisting destruction of sites sacred to Dakota, Lakota and Nakota people, disruption of traditional ways and potential environmental contamination from crude oil pipe line construction and use.

Put These Statements Together: Can You Say Termination?

Trump considering Senator Heitkamp of North Dakota for Cabinet (Interior)

Heitkamp Statement on Dakota Access Pipeline Protests

Dakota pipeline fight is ‘not winnable,’ ND Democratic Sen Heidi Heitkamp

Then add in this interview with Senator Heitkamp in today’s Indian Country Today newsletter; I am blown away.

And throw this on top, to fill out the portent: Trump advisors aim to privatize oil-rich American Indian reservations.

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.

Penobscots Vacate Seat in Maine Legislature

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The Penobscot Nation is formally vacating a seat the tribe has held in the Maine Legislature for more than 150 years and, instead, plans to select an ambassador to work with the state and federal governments.

More than a mere title change, the switch from non-voting state representative to a full-time “government relations ambassador” is a symbolic and historic shift that reflects the tensions between state officials and leaders of Maine’s federally recognized Indian tribes, most notably the Penobscots and the Passamaquoddy Tribe.

Full story at the Portland Press-Herald.

Maine Tribes Say Trust Is Deteriorating

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Pleasant Point, ME – Native American tribes who trace their history back millenniums say their trust in the government of Maine is at a new low.

What has long been an uneasy peace between the state government and the tribes that desire sovereignty has degraded with clashes on issues such as fishing rights and new casinos. The dispute has become so vitriolic that Gov. Paul R. LePage withdrew an executive order that sought to promote cooperation between the two sides, and some of the tribes abandoned their seats in the Legislature.

“This marriage between the tribe and the state is little more than a shotgun wedding between unwilling partners,” said Fred Moore, the chief of the Passamaquoddy Tribe at Pleasant Point. “There’s always value in reconciling, but that requires both sides to want to come to the table.”

Read the full New York Times article for more.