Invitation to Indigenous U.S. consultation, February 26, 2015

09 March 2015 11:014am email to
Thank you for your reply.
Will the consultations that took place & the results be posted on your website.

Noticed that there is a meeting in April regarding the UN Resolution.

Thanks again,————————————————————————-
27 Feb 2015 7:16pm reply from
Dear Mr. McDaniel,
Please accept our apologies for not responding sooner.
The staff that regularly checks this email inbox was at the site of the event. Unfortunately, we did not have the capabilities to have a call-in number, or web livestream, at this venue. We will try in the future to have these capabilities. The Department is very interested in your views and comments. If you have any written comments, white papers, or position papers related to the United Nations World Conference on Indigenous People, please email them to this address and we will make sure that our specialists take into account your views.
Thank you.
Sincerely yours,
Office of Intergovernmental Affairs
Bureau of Public Affairs
U.S. Department of State
26 Feb 2015 7:14am email to

Due to the heavy snow, myself and most others will not be able to attend today’s consultations.

Could not find any contact information on the invite to determine whether there will be any other options, i.e. call in or live streaming of the meeting.

Without live streaming, call-in, or at least a recorded video of the meetings, this snow storm will leave most non-BIA (Native American tribes) out in the cold.

Hope someone mentions the major barriers preventing non-BIA listed tribes from achieving self-determination, including reasonable regulations for federal acknowledgment.  The US American Papers document many tribes that are not recognized by the US.  It has been an highly unfair and uneven process for Federal Recognition of Ingenious Native Americans.

Please advise (and reply to all).
Thank you,
Tim McDaniel – Tustinuggee Thlocco

email at 3:00 pm:  Am very disappointed no response has been received from my above email, and that the Hilton Events Manager said there was no call-in, and the events are not being recorded.
This is not the process that the President indicated in his 2009 Memorandum.


Thanks for this notice from
Patricia Ferguson <>


The U.S. Department of State

cordially invites you to a

Consultation with Representatives of the

U.S. Government, U.S. Federally Recognized Tribes

and other U.S. Indigenous Peoples

Topic:  Follow-Up to the September 2014

UN World Conference on Indigenous Peoples

Date:  Thursday, February 26, 2015

Location:  Capital Hilton Hotel,  Ohio Room

1001 16th Street, N.W.; Washington, D.C.   20036

 Session for U.S. Federally Recognized Tribes:  10:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Session for U.S. NGOs and others:  2:00 – 4:00 p.m.

This invitation is transferable.



Recognition Bills in the 114th Congress

  • H.R. 184, Lumbee Recognition Act,
  • H.R. 872 and S. 465, To extend Federal recognition to the Chickahominy Indian Tribe, the Chickahominy Indian Tribe–Eastern Division, the Upper Mattaponi Tribe, the Rappahannock Tribe, Inc., the Monacan Indian Nation, and the Nansemond Indian Tribe,


·         H.R. 286, Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians Restoration Act of 2015,


Study: Congress cool to recognition

February 20, 2015, The Robesonian

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PEMBROKE — A survey of members of Congress concerning their views on issues related to the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina shows that there is little support to grant the tribe federal recognition.

The year-long study, which began in January 2013, was conducted by Jamie K. Oxendine, a Lumbee tribal member who lives in Ohio but has family roots in Robeson County. Oxendine is a professor of North American Indians in the College of Languages, Literature & Social Sciences at The University of Toledo. He is a director of Black Swamp InterTribal Foundation in Perrysburg, Ohio, and serves on the board of trustees of the Ohio Humanities Council, Ohio Historic Preservation Board, and the Fallen Timbers Battle Field Preservation Commission.

The No. 1 question that Oxendine was seeking an answer for from 100 targeted legislators was “Why Should I Support the Lumbee.” Of the 100 targeted legislators, Oxendine said he met during a six-month period with 64 — 12 senators and 52 members of the House.

Of the 36 he did not speak with personally, Oxendine supplied packages that included survey questions. All 100 legislators received the surveys and 71 surveys were returned.

According to Oxendine, 40 of the legislators he spoke with had no knowledge of the Lumbee Recognition Bill. All 64, he said, were concerned about questions raised by negative news about the Lumbee administration and how federal money would be allocated to the tribe if full federal recognition were granted.

“… We have literally and figuratively lost our identity as a Native American tribe,” Oxendine said in the conclusion of his study. “We have become an institution of numbers and statistics about monies and politics and anything else that is far removed from the history and beauty of the Native American Culture. We are instead narrowing our focus and abandoning our sense of what Lumbee is and has been and should continue to be. We need to set rather profound goals and make sure we achieve them.”

According to the study, one of the major concerns of legislators was the tribe’s hiring a few years ago of Lewin International LLC, a Nevada company with expertise in the development, marketing and operations of full-service casinos. One legislator called it the “Lewin Lumbee Scandal,” according to Oxendine.

Another concern of legislators was that both Tribal Chairman Paul Brooks and Tribal Administrator Tony Hunt at the time of the study were facing various charges, including assault. Twenty-three legislators asked why both individual officials were not relieved of their duties until a full investigation, according to the study.

Other findings from the survey and meetings with legislators include:

— Questions raised about whether the Lumbee have a culture of their own. Legislators said all that they see of the Lumbee is a tribe that looks like it is copying South West Indian culture or Plains Indian culture.

— The opinion surfaced that the Lumbee just copy the ways and traditions of other Indian tribes. And their government, legislators noted, is more like that of the “White Man” than other American Indian tribes.

— Forty-eight legislators were not impressed with the tribe’s website. They said it lacked information, and the fact that the chairman’s photo is the first thing one sees on the site represents the “vanity” of the administration.

During the interviews, Oxendine said 16 of the legislators commented on the salaries of upper administrative staff as read in various media accounts. Forty-one legislators indicated they were “disturbed” by inappropriate use of HUD funds by the Lumbee.

Oxendine said that 17 legislators questioned the use of HUD funds by Tribal Attorney Ed Brooks and wanted to know if he was paying money back for services considered ineligible for funding by HUD. Two senators also raised the question of an informal investigation into Brooks and the use of the money.

Oxendine noted that one of the most interesting facts brought out in the interviews and surveys is that tribal officials have not responded to direct contacts by legislators or their aides to the tribal offices. Some legislators, according to the study, said that their aides were hung up on or put on “indefinite hold.” Other legislators said they or their aides never received responses to emails that were sent directly to tribal staff, including the tribe’s chairman.

According to Oxendine, three goals were suggested by legislators. They include: engage and communicate to the people; create a cohesive information forum; and dedicate a person as public information/relations officer.

Chairman Paul Brooks told The Robesonian on Thursday that he has not read the results of Oxendine’s study. He also questioned whether the results of the study are accurate.

“Is this actually what the legislators said, or just what he (Oxendine) says the legislators said?” Brooks said.

Brooks said that in regards to federal recognition, congressional members need to do what is right.

“If they would do what is the right thing, we would have had recognition long ago,” said Brooks.

Bob Shiles can be reached at 910-416-5165.



6 Virginia Tribes Reattempt Federal Recognition through Act of Congress

February 19, 2015, Indian Country Today

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Last Wednesday, several Virginia Congressmen reintroduced the Thomasina E. Jordan Indian Tribes of Virginia Federal Recognition Act in hopes that six Virginia Indian tribes will eventually receive official federal recognition by an act of congress.

The bill has been introduced several times including the 113th congress in May of 2013, but has not been enacted.

The six tribes, which are all recognized by the Commonwealth of Virginia and are currently seeking to gain federal recognition are the Chickahominy, the Eastern Chickahominy, the Upper Mattaponi, the Rappahannock, the Monacan and the Nansemond.

The 2015 bill was brought to the House by Republican Rob Wittman and Democrats Gerry Connolly, Don Beyer, and Bobby Scott, and to the Senate by Virginia senators Tim Kaine and Mark Warner, both Democrats.

In an article by the Cavalier, former Virginia Governor and now Senator Kaine said the Bureau of Indian Affairs is at fault for the inability of the Virginia Tribes to obtain recognition and that the BIA “uses a national standard which neglects to take into account the unique situations of these Virginia Indian tribes.”



“The absence of federal recognition has not been for lack of trying,” Kaine said in an email to the Cavalier Daily. “In fact, many tribes have vigorously pursued paths to recognition through the administrative process but have found it to be inefficient, expensive and confusing. The federal process, which is run by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, uses a one-size-fits-all system that fails to account for extraordinary circumstances like the barriers Virginia tribes have often encountered.”

Though the Virginia tribes have been seeking to attain federal recognition for decades, the Virginia tribes face considerable difficulties due to the fact they signed treaties with the English government and not the United States.

Sharon Bryant, Chief of the Monacan Nation told ICTMN in an email that though it feels good to have bipartisan support for the bill, for the tribes in Virginia, it is a matter of human justice and civil rights.

“The issue goes beyond partisan politics,” wrote Bryant. “We do appreciate and are deeply honored that these gentlemen exhibit the courage of their convictions by supporting our fight for Federal Recognition.”

Though the bill has not received enough support in the past to move forward, Bryant said she was optimistic for 2015. “Each time our bill is submitted we are always hopeful for a positive vote. We do absolutely believe that it is our right as descendants of Virginia’s indigenous people to request and receive status as a federally recognized tribe.”

Bryant also told ICTMN that though they are seeking federal recognition through an act of Congress as opposed to the BIA, “we are actually taking the more common route. Contrary to popular belief, more tribes have been recognized by Congress than the BIA,” she wrote.

Tribes are often queried about opening gambling operations, but Bryant said they do not have an intention to do so.

“We have no history with the establishment of gaming/casinos in this country nor with the environment of animosity currently surrounding it. Yet the authentic Virginia tribes are repeatedly submitted to questions concerning our position on casinos. Our bill states that we will not open a casino upon receiving Federal Recognition.

“When and how did the heritage of our bloodline become so unfairly and inexplicably connected to casinos? Is the issue of gaming a roadblock or a ‘trigger’ to strike fear into the hearts and minds of American citizens? We do not know and are truly insulted by the unspoken implication that, bemuse we are Indian, we will want to gamble,” wrote Bryant.

“The Virginia tribes have paid a high price to exist here. After agreeing to be peaceful and choosing to live our lives outside of mainstream society, it seems we became irrelevant to the people in power,” she continued. “Over the last several hundred years we have seen our village and burial sites plowed under in the name of progress and prosperity and we have seen our land, language and traditions dwindle away in our daily struggles to survive.

“Yet, here we are still, hanging on to our identity and culture despite considerable adversity. So, becoming a federally recognized tribe is definitely, for us, not about casinos but about righting a wrong and seeking justice for the inequality and misrepresentation perpetrated against our ancestors (which continues on many levels even today), helping our young people and elders have a better quality of life, and a desperate hope to secure a future that encompasses our cultural identity for our grandchildren’s grandchildren.”


Pamunkey Pride and Prejudice: How the Feds Mandated Racism
February 17, 2015, Indian Country Today

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The Pamunkey Tribe has recently come under fire by the Congressional Black Caucus for, until very recently, their constitutional prohibition of intermarriage with black people. When placed in a contemporary context, the small tribe (enrolled population of just over 200) would be the poster child for antiquated notions at best, and legislated racism at worst. The problem with this statement is that the Pamunkey’s historical and contemporary realities are fueled by a highly complex matrix of racial prejudice directed towards them—not only in social and educational form, but through the massive bureaucracy and class distinction maker known as the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

Much of the contemporary Pamunkey reality has been forcefully created via pressures, intentional or not, from the Bureau of Indian Affairs and their enforcement arm known as the Office of Federal Acknowledgement. It should be further stated that the Pamunkey have always been and will always be an Indian tribe. They have endured hundreds of years of colonizing contact, and have still stood with pride in who they are. They should never have had to play this game. This is no different in terms of the reality of the other Virginia tribes with whom our tribe has held a multigenerational attachment via being Indian boarding school classmates. These tribes include the Upper Mattaponi, Mattaponi, Chickahominy, Chickahominy Indians Eastern Division, Rappahannock and Monacan.

If Indian tribes are to be denied federal recognition or have their federal recognition rescinded on the basis of racism towards black people, then hundreds of tribes would be immediately stricken from the federal register. Racism towards people of many racial backgrounds is highly pronounced in many areas of Indian country. Recent disenrollment attempts by tribes such as the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma and Nooksack in Washington State of tribal members from black and Filipino ancestry respectively, are glaring examples of the Indian world’s adoption of mainstream racial attitudes for social and political purposes. Unlike the Cherokee and Nooksack, who are federally recognized tribes with political protections that unethically allow such actions, historic “non-federal” tribes find themselves in unique and highly problematic scenarios when issues of race are contested within their tribal communities, and such contestations become the make or break factors towards public opinion, legal status, and social standing.

Historic “non-federal” tribes in the East and South have particularly difficult decisions to make in the area of race. These decisions may have been enacted for sheer survival in the past not only in social ways, but in ways that were life and death matters concerning their political futures. Tribes such as the Pamunkey, Haliwa-Saponi, Lumbee, Nanticoke, MOWA Choctaw, Eastern Pequot, Houma, Wampanoag, and Unkechaug were placed into positions where in order to maintain their tribal identity, they were socially, legally, and even violently forced to abandon their associations with black ancestry. While these alliances continued for some socially, the public face of such friendships and family connections became the pointed focus of anthropologists, government officials and racists. Some contemporary academics of both tribal and non-tribal lineage have even attempted to discredit or question these contemporary tribes due to their mixed-black ancestry. Unfortunately, it seems today that a determining factor during the federal recognition process is a tribe’s distance from blackness and closer proximity to whiteness.

The recognition process is so fraught with land mines and taboos that political insiders vouch to the handicapping of odds and politicking by people in positions to promote various nations. Rather than challenge special interests and racially intolerant forces, BIA leadership often succumbs to what could be thought of as misguided pragmatism. There is no better example of this entrenched, institutional mentality than Office of Federal Acknowledgment Director Lee Fleming (Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma citizen). As the new Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs, Kevin Gover took Fleming’s advice to deny the tribes’ petition. In 2004 testimony before the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, Gover had this to say about his previous decision, “First, I strongly believe that certain petitioners, which already have been denied recognition, should be permitted another opportunity under the revised process established by this bill…Even some of the petitions I personally acted upon leave me wishing that this revised process had been in effect when I was in office. Into this category I would place the MOWA Choctaw.”

To my eye, Fleming’s adherence to a racial agenda against the MOWA Choctaw is supported by highly controversial statements he made at a 1995 genealogical conference in Alabama, one year before he became an OFA employee. Professor Don Rankin stated in a letter to MOWA Choctaw leadership that the following conversation occurred during the course of the conference, “Someone brought up the MOWA Choctaw and their attempt at federal recognition. At this stage, several people had gathered around as we were talking. Ms. Brown responded in an even professional tone of voice that she felt that they would not be successful. When asked why, she responded that they had black ancestors and in her opinion were not Indian. Mr. Lee Flemming (sp), who was at the time the Tribal Registrar for the Western Band of Cherokee and one of the lecturers, agreed with her. I was shocked at their statements.”

Fleming agreed with this despite the fact that the MOWA Choctaw generationally attended Indian boarding schools, had retained their traditional language, live on a recognized Indian reservation, have intermarried with nearly 30 different federal tribes nationally, and have maintained attendance at a local Indian school identified in the Library of Congress since 1835.

Following this misguided “logic,” it would be safe to assume that Pamunkey Chief Kevin Brown would be sensitive to such concerns. Any tribal leader in his position who wanted to ensure a successful campaign would need to develop a plan for recognition that would acknowledge the inherent biases in the system. If people like Fleming need a tribe that could show that his process works, the Pamunkey are without question the ideal candidate.

The Pamunkey fulfill the first prerequisite, which is the ability to lay low and not publicly contest the failures of the Office of Federal Acknowledgment. Second, OFA has no interest in recognizing any tribe that will cause fiscal issues for the already economically strapped Bureau of Indian Affairs. With just over 200 members, the Pamunkey Tribe is perfect in this sense. Next, it would be helpful to recognize a tribe that does not have any federally recognized gaming tribes in the region. This is difficult for most petitioners to fulfill, but the Pamunkey just happen to be that community. They also are bolstered by their long-term presence on a historic state reservation and the fact that Pocahontas, a beloved American icon, is a Pamunkey descendant. Another bonus to their petition is that they are not affiliated with already established federally recognized tribes. Because there are no other Pamunkey claimants or branches of this tribe, they become the sole purveyors of that identity.

The Pamunkey Council made a strategic move when six other Virginia tribes created a joint Congressional bill for recognition, and the Pamunkey declined to join. They knew that their inclusion would have bolstered the bill but instead they chose to quietly engage the Office of Federal Acknowledgment on their own. This decision may leave them as the sole federally recognized Virginia tribe for many years to come as it appears that Congress is a politically dead path to federal recognition anymore. The Pamunkey’s generational attendance at Indian boarding schools was a huge piece of support, though it appears Fleming minimized it in the narrative of their positive determination.

In the OFA response, Lee only mentioned the Pamunkey presence at the Cherokee Boarding School in North Carolina. Even though the Pamunkey attended Carlisle, Bacone, Hampton and Haskell, I believe he made it a point not to mention this, as that would open the door of recognition to the small number of other historic “non-federal” tribes who attended Indian boarding schools. Of course, these tribes are considered to have mixed-black ancestry. (The new federal regulations overseen by Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs Kevin Washburn now enshrine attendance at Indian boarding schools as evidence that can be used as proof of Indian identity and community, an encouraging sign of change.)Racial bias is also a factor in Fleming’s mention of the Pamunkey prohibition of black intermarriage as a positive in their maintenance of an Indian identity and cohesive community in their final determination.

The effects of forced alienation by white lawmakers for these tribes from black communities, both contemporarily and historically, resurfaces today in the misunderstanding between members of the Black Congressional Caucus and the small number of historic “non-federal” tribes still maintaining their communities in the East and South. The generationally oppressed and powerless historic “non-federal” tribes get cast as the oppressor. The Congressional Black Caucus should be concerned about the Pamunkey and many other tribes who have alienated black people. However, they should take it up with them post-recognition when they become a part of the federal system the Congressional Black Caucus represents.





Virginia Congressmen seek further Virginia Indian tribal recognition

Colonial peace treaties blocking federal relations

February 16, 2015, The Cavalier Daily

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Six Virginia Congressmen reintroduced a bill on Wednesday that would grant six Virginia Indian tribes federal recognition. The Thomasina E. Jordan Indian Tribes of Virginia Federal Recognition Act of 2015 was brought to the House by Representatives by Republican Rob Wittman and Democrats Gerry Connolly, Don Beyer, and Bobby Scott, and to the Senate by Virginia senators Tim Kaine and Mark Warner, both Democrats.

Though the six tribes — the Chickahominy, the Eastern Chickahominy, the Upper Mattaponi, the Rappahannock, the Monacan and the Nansemond — have received state recognition, the groups have failed to gain recognition from the federal government.

Kaine faulted the Federal Bureau of Indian Affairs, saying it uses a national standard which neglects to take into account the unique situations of these Virginia Indian tribes.

“The absence of federal recognition has not been for lack of trying,” Kaine said in an email. “In fact, many tribes have vigorously pursued paths to recognition through the administrative process but have found it to be inefficient, expensive and confusing. The federal process, which is run by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, uses a one-size-fits-all system that fails to account for extraordinary circumstances like the barriers Virginia tribes have often encountered.”

The source of the circumstances which have barred the six tribes from national recognition stems from Colonial times. Because the tribes formed treaties with the English government prior to the establishment of our country, the tribes have never entered into formal treaties with the American government.

However, if the bill is passed, the federal government will establish national relationships with the tribes and allow the tribes to maintain a permanent diplomacy with the U.S national government. The groups could then pursue the repatriation of historical and cultural artifacts, receive access to healthcare and emergency assistance and send their children to federal Native American schools and universities, among other benefits.

Kaine, who has advocated for the tribes since serving as Virginia’s governor, said he is disgruntled with colleagues who believe that the Bureau of Indian Affairs should be the only organization able to authorize such recognition.

“As governor of Virginia, I testified before Congress in support of the tribes and was deeply disappointed when they were not granted federal recognition before my term ended,” he said. “Unfortunately, we did not see a vote on the Senate floor in the 113th Congress because some members of Congress outside Virginia have objected to moving the legislation forward.”

Kaine said he believes tribal recognition would lead to a more prosperous relationship between the tribes and the Commonwealth, and feels it is owed to them. He said he will fight for new status even if the newest motion fails.

“I will continue to push for recognition no matter how long it takes,” Kaine said.

Congressman Rob Wittman agreed, saying the Virginia Indian tribes have waited for federal recognition longer than deserved.

“The history of these tribes is intertwined with the birth of our nation, and their federal recognition status is long overdue,” Wittman said in a press release. “I’m proud to work with the Virginia tribes to ensure that they are granted the recognition that they have been denied for far too long.”


Buffalo Tiger, Miccosukee Indian rights warrior passes on

February 12, 2015, Peoples World

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Born and raised in the Florida Everglades, Miccosukee Indian leader, William had a remarkable life, not the least of which was meeting with Cuban leader Fidel Castro and storied revolutionary Che Guevara in 1959 in Havana. He walked on at 94 on January 6, 2015.

As a Native leader, his advocacy contributed to hallmarks not just for his own tribe but for others throughout the wide expanse of Indian Country. Among his many achievements were his involvement in the formation of the Indian Self-Determination and Education Act of 1975 and the founding of the United South and Eastern Tribes (USET) in Nashville, Tennessee, in 1969.

In a statement provided upon Buffalo Tiger’s passing, USET President Brian Patterson eulogized, “We grieve the loss of a truly great leader, who will be loved and missed. From a time where Indian Country was shrouded in darkness with no money, no direction and no hope, we are thankful for the courage and medicine Buffalo Tiger gave us to advance tribal nations and future generations. For the Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of Florida and all of Indian Country, Chairman Tiger was a trailblazer to help bring federal recognition and assistance for his tribe, a founding leader of USET, and an inspiration that there is hope beyond the darkness.”

He served as Miccosukee Chairman from 1957 to 1985. Buffalo Tiger consistently utilized tribal sovereignty to preserve Miccosukee culture and traditions in the ancient homeland.

Some historical background is necessary to appreciate the circumstances that produced this outstanding Native leader. The Seminoles who fought three wars with the U.S. in the 19th century were mainly composed of two peoples – the Muskogee speakers (closely related to the Creeks), who became known as Seminoles, and the Hitchiti speakers (distantly related to the Creeks), now known as the Miccosukees. By the federal government they were collectively known as Seminoles. But the two peoples remained separate tribal entities.

These Indian peoples fought those three wars with the U.S. as a result of invasions by federal troops. The first of these wars began with U.S. aggression in 1818, led by that archenemy of Native people, Andrew Jackson.

Although considered part of the Seminole, the Miccosukee had long maintained their separation and tended to live in greater isolation in the Everglades. The U.S. government in the 1940s set aside reservations for the Seminole peoples. But the Miccosukee stayed on non-reservation lands in the lower Everglades.

In the 1950s, the federal government threatened to terminate the entire tribe – meaning to reduce or eliminate services and benefits guaranteed by law to American Indians. Remember, also, the Seminoles had never signed a peace treaty with the U.S., earning them the title “Unconquered.”

Incensed at the proposed federal action, the two Indian peoples organized politically and were federally recognized as the Seminole Tribe of Florida in 1957. But there were significant political differences between the tribes. The Muskogee speakers, the Seminoles, had filed in 1950 with the Indian Claims Commission for compensation for lands taken by the federal government in the 1800s. The Hitchiti speakers, the Miccosukees, wanted the return of the land and refused compensation.

Over these differences, the Seminoles and Miccosukees formally separated. Buffalo Tiger led the Miccosukees to gain separate state recognition in 1957. In the meantime, the federal government failed to meet a critical deadline for recognition of the Miccosukees as a separate nation. In response Buffalo Tiger requested recognition of Miccosukee nationhood from other nations. The only country to respond was socialist Cuba, led by Fidel Castro. In 1959, Buffalo Tiger and other members of the tribal council traveled to Cuba and met with Prime Minister Castro, Che Guevara and other leaders of the revolutionary Marxist-Leninist government.

Buffalo Tiger aptly described the situation in a 1987 Miami Herald interview:

“The government wanted to pay us money to shut up. We wanted land set aside for us and to be left alone. No one in Washington would listen to us. So when Castro took over, I went over there and smoked some cigars with him and Che Guevara and I asked them: “Do you recognize the Miccosukee Tribe?” Castro said he did. He said that if the United States would not give us a place to live, we were welcome to come over there and he would make room for us. When we got back, there were all kinds of phone calls from Washington. The government started dealing with us seriously then.”

Castro recognized the Miccosukee as a separate nation. Buffalo Tiger presented Fidel with a statement on buckskin lauding the Cuban Revolution as a victory “over tyranny and oppression,” and extended Miccosukee recognition to the socialist government. In response Castro recognized the “duly constituted government of the Miccosukee Nation.”

In a signed document, Castro honored the Miccosukee leadership for “the long struggle of your Miccosukee Nation and the perseverance of your indomitable and freedom-loving people….”

The Cuba/ Miccosukee meeting was a diplomatic coup as the U.S. government did not want further exposure of its shameful treatment of Indian people. Throughout his long life Buffalo Tiger remained an outspoken leader of his tribe. His meeting with Fidel Castro and Che Guevara in defiance of U.S. attempts to destroy tribal sovereignty will always resonate in the chronicles of American Indian history.

Historical records state that in the Seminole Wars the Miccosukee were “noted for their courage, dash and audacity.” Buffalo Tiger maintained that proud tradition when Miccosukee sovereignty met with Marxism/Leninism.


Effort being made to preserve BV cultural site

February 11, 205, Tehachapi News

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Bear Valley Community Services District may net another addition its cultural heritage thanks to the generosity of two its residents, according to David Edmonds, the district general manager.

Edmonds said the district is in the process of smoothing out a four-way deal to procure the site containing cultural elements of the native Kawaiisu or Nüwa Indians.

In December, residents Richard and Linda Turco pitched the idea of purchasing and preserving a site in Bear Valley Springs with historical value and donating it to the community. The site, located on Sunset Way in Bear Valley, contains a number of grinding holes used by the Kawaiisu.

The native people would use a rock pestle on a bedrock mortar to ground acorns and other plants for food. The resulting impact left deep holes in the rock.

The Kawaiisu tribe inhabited the Tehachapi Mountains for at least 1,500 years and grinding holes in bedrock mortars are among the many reminders of their presence in the region, along with rock art including that at Tomo-Kahni State Historic Park, the site of a winter village in the Sand Canyon area.

Harold Williams, a Kawaiisu Elder and past chairman of the Kern Valley Indian Community, said the tribe could support Bear Valley CSD’s effort.

“We would welcome that decision since it preserves a cultural area,” Williams said.

He added that is usually other individuals and organizations who must take steps to preserve Kawaiisu sites.

“We aren’t an organized tribe and aren’t federally recognized,” Williams said. (The Kawaiisu Band of the Tejon has had its federal recognition “reaffirmed,” but is a different political unit from the Kawaiisu of the Tehachapi area). The U.S. Department of the Interior omits the Kawaiisu from the federal register of recognized Native American entities, although there is much historical evidence of the tribe and involvement with the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Without federal recognition, the Kawaiisu people are denied benefits available to recognized tribes.

Williams said the archeological detail of the grinding stones, based on the depth over the centuries, showed that the Kawaiisu had inhabited the area for 2,000 years. With anthropologist Alan P. Garfinkel, Williams co-authored the “Handbook of the Kawaiisu” published in 2009.

The Sunset Way property hasn’t been developed, although a few lots to the south and east have been.

Richard Turco suggested that he could donate money to purchase the property to the Bear Valley Community Services District, which owns all of the properties managed by the Bear Valley Springs Association for the benefit of property owners.

By preserving the area, Williams said Bear Valley CSD would take a step that most others wouldn’t consider.

“Some developers might purchase a property (with grinding holes) and just bulldoze right over it,” he said.

Turco, at the Dec. 11 BVCSD meeting said the benefits of the district taking over would include preservation of the area from development, allowing Bear Valley residents access to an existing trail and adding a clear recreational, historical and cultural value to the area.

Turco added the district could make improvements such as installing picnic tables, realigning or extending nearby hiking and riding trails, adding signage noting the location of artifacts and historical background, and installing a water line to the picnic area.

Edmonds, Bear Valley’s general manager, said at this point, the district’s legal counsel will be wrapping up how everything will proceed, including addressing Turco’s concerns.

“Mr. Turco had some concerns about preservation and that the area wouldn’t be developed,” Edmonds said. When everything has been finalized, Edmonds said the Turcos plan to donate the money to the Bear Valley Springs Community Recreation Facilities Foundation, which would in turn be handed over to the district to purchase the lot. Bear Valley Springs Association would manage the site, as it does all amenities in Bear Valley.

CLAUDIA ELLIOTT of the Tehachapi News contributed to this story.



Chinooks look to June meeting to clarify leadership issues

February 10, 2015, Chinook Observer

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Tony Johnson, pictured leading First Salmon Ceremony participants at Fort Columbia in June 2011, will be among Chinook Indian Nation Council members grappling with leadership succession issues this June.

With the death of Chinook leader Ray Gardner, the tribal council plans to regroup and establish renewed leadership as it continues to fight for federal recognition

BAY CENTER — Chinook tribal leader Ray Gardner died without seeing the Bay Center-based Chinook Indian Nation achieve the federal recognition he and others had spent decades fighting for, but the remaining members of the tribal council say they are continuing the fight even as they begin to discuss how to do it without him.

“I think our goals are going to remain the same,” said Sam Robinson, vice chairman and, as of last June, acting chairman for the Chinook Indian Nation’s tribal council, in a phone interview Feb. 10. “We need to take care of our people and correcting our federal status is goal number one. We just need to figure out how it’s going to happen.”

As Gardner’s health declined, Robinson took on many of the former chairman’s duties. He says the council plans to meet this weekend to discuss how they want to honor Gardner’s memory. Questions of who will take on the chairman position next will be determined at the regular council meeting this June. Robinson will continue as acting chairman until then.

Despite appearing in the journals of various explorers and being documented in various histories of the region, the Chinook have yet to achieve permanent federal recognition. They have faced opposition from other tribal groups, including the Quinault Indian Nation in Grays Harbor County.

Their efforts stalled again last year after the Bureau of Indian Affairs announced changes to the recognition process. The changes were intended to reform a process that has been criticized in the past, but now tribes like the Chinook have to reevaluate the evidence and information they have collected and submitted over the years.

Rebuilding connections

Gardner had built up a wide network of valuable contacts over the more than 13 years he spent on the council. Now, the council must discuss how to maintain those contacts as they continue their bid for recognition.

“One thing Ray did really well was to be out in public,” Robinson said. “I’m going to be encouraging council members to get out in public.”

“I did not know him well, but there was an obvious warmth and optimism about his spirit,” wrote Mac Burns, executive director for the Clatsop County Historical Society in Astoria, Ore., in an e-mail Feb. 10. “He made people feel comfortable at once.”

Burns said his fondest memory of Gardner was of the talk he gave at the Astoria Bicentennial Celebration kick off in 2011.

“He gently reminded the audience that his people were here long before Lewis & Clark or the Astor party,” Burns said. “His humor, demeanor, and charm won many friends that day.”

“Those are hard shoes to fill,” Robinson said.

Former Chinook Tribal Council member Carol Shepherd agreed.

“His passing leaves huge shoes to fill, and pain in all of our hearts,” she said. She considered Gardner a “mentor, advisor and good friend.”

“Ray never stopped fighting for the Chinooks to finally be recognized by the federal government,” she said. “Even after he was so ill, he kept it up — his dedication and determination were without equal.”

“He had such a unique way about him,” Robinson continued. “When he’d meet somebody, no matter who you were, he just wanted to talk and know who you are before he started talking business.”


Retired prof discovers, preserves Abenaki botanical heritage

February 9, 2015, Press Republican

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BARRE, VT — Dr. Frederick Wiseman tracks through centuries old historical records and oral histories to identify and preserve ancient Abenaki seeds that could be lost forever.

“About 20 years ago, I moved to Vermont and discovered that I had Abenaki ancestry and I started working with the Abenaki,” said Wiseman, who presents “Chasing Seeds: The discovery and restoration of ancient Wabanaki crops” 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Vermont Archaeology Heritage Center in Barre, Vt.

“My PhD is a sub discipline, ethno-botany, the study of people and plants. My specialty until recently was working with the Maya civilization in Guatemala and Mexico.”

The retired Johnson State College professor’s family origins are in Swanton. He is the third Frederick Wiseman after his grandfather and father, and he lives in the home his grandfather built in 1909.

“There was an ammunitions plant here in the first part of the 20th century, and he was a foreman. It was the Robin Hood Ammunition Company. I came back to Vermont when my father passed away. In Vermont, it wasn’t cool to be Indian in the 20th century.”

He applied and received citizenship by the Missisquoi Abenaki Tribal Council. He started researching the Abenaki history and has published two academic and three popular books on the subject.

The Missisquoi have state but not federal recognition. The state recognition allows them to sell traditional crafts and arts as Native Americans, and it gives them a legal, minority status.

As part of this recognition process, Wiseman conducted a lot of historical research throughout Vermont and the Connecticut River Valley.

“There was a huge wellspring of unrecorded agricultural information,” Wiseman said. “The tribes were doing all types of agriculture that was recorded by early explorers in the Northeast. Some people were raising crops that were basically unknown to science.”

There were varieties of the indigenous staples, the Three Sisters __ corns, beans and squash.

Koas corn is a short corn with five-inch ears. The plant grows approximately 4 ft. high.

“The thing that interested me is most of the corn we got here as well as the Mohawk corn is what we call eight-row flint, a standard type of indigenous corn in the Northeast,” he said. “This corn is not a flint corn. Flint corn is like popcorn. It has a very hard covering on it.”

When Koas corn dries, it shrivels up.

“Ornamental dry, the kernels don’t shrivel up,” Wiseman said. “It shows it (Koas) doesn’t have that hard, flinty covering on the seed called seed coat. This is really a strange corn.”

The Koas corn grows faster and has a lot of oil in it. The corn was found in the hills of New Hampshire.

“They were given it in the 1700s by the Koas Abenaki,” he said. “It’s a village that existed forever. There was a French mission there. It still has an Abenaki community living there. They raised this corn and gave it to these farmers that kept it uncross-pollinated up until 2006 when they gave the corn to the Koas Abenaki tribe. I was at the ceremony. We planted the first ones in 2007, and it was amazing.”

Wiseman has traced 26 different varieties including corn, beans, squash, Jerusalem artichoke, ground cherries and tobacco.

The Norridgewock bean comes from an Abenaki village that was destroyed by a British attack in 1724.

“Some Mohawks came from New York to warn Norridgewock the attack was imminent,” Wiseman said. “It’s an Abenaki village in Maine. There is a lot of oral history that is conflicting. One of the stories that make the most sense to me, it was found growing wild on the banks of the Kennebec River in Maine. It was growing wild near the ruins of the old village and fort. That was also a mission village, too, in the early 19th century.”

The Norridgewock bean was cultivated by European American families in the region. Some of the beans were given to a high-school agronomy teacher, whom Wiseman found online.

“He sent me some seeds. It is a white bean with a red blotch along the hilum, the white spot on the bean where it connects to the bean pod.

It looks like a Maine yellow eye. Instead of yellow, it has red. It may be a variety of the Maine yellow eye.”

Wiseman has been so busy collecting the seeds; he hasn’t had a chance to study them.

“It’s and emerging science,” he said. “It’s pretty raw and undigested.”

A friend alerted him to the rare East Montpelier squash.

“She had a squash she got from an Abenaki gentleman in East Montpelier,” Wiseman said.

“The oral history that came with that it’s an Abenaki squash so huge that a field of these could feed a village. It was a great, big squash.”

His source only had a few seeds, and she shared some with him. Wiseman had no room to grow them, and gave the East Montpelier seeds to another friend.

“The seeds grew but did not at all look like the picture she sent,” he said. “We were completely devastated. She gave some other seeds to friends of hers in Orange, Vt. They grew it out, and it looked exactly what we were expecting. The bad news was the couple who was raising them didn’t realized how valuable it was and grew it in it a field with blue Hubbard squash, which is the same species.”

The squash was big and beautiful and the best-tasting squash ever.

“The bad news is the squash is cross-pollinated with blue Hubbard. We were down to one seed. I have 350 seeds from this one plant. I’m giving these seeds to as many people as I can to plant them by themselves.”

The goal is to weed out the blue Hubbard cross-pollination and save the East Montpeliers.

“It’s over the edge of extinction right now, and we’re going to try to pull it back.


Casino Still in Holding Pattern

February 6, 2015, Shelby Star

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Plans for the Catawba Indian Nation resort and casino are under scrutiny in Washington, D.C.

“It has been reviewed for the past three or four months by the Solicitor General’s Office,”  said David Dear of Cleveland County Economic Development Partnership. “It is right on target.”

The approval process from start to finish could take several years, Dear said.

The Catawbas submitted an application in September 2014 to the U.S. Department of the Interior for land trust and casino rights for a plot off Interstate 85 near Kings Mountain.

When the process first started, areas in Mecklenburg and Gaston counties were looked at, but ultimately Cleveland County was chosen.

“Several places in Mecklenburg were hard looked at,” said Catawba Chief Bill Harris in a Jan. 18, 2014, article in The Star . “There were a lot of strings attached to the Mecklenburg County area with a couple of the properties. The property that really caught the eye of everybody was that in Cleveland County. The proximity to I-85 was a huge contributing factor.”

Casino support in congress

At the federal level, the casino project has met with support in congress.

Congressman Jim Moran (D-Virginia), Congressman George Miller (D-California) and former Democratic Congressman and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson have said now is the time for the federal government to fulfill its trust responsibility and the promises made in the 1993 Catawba Indian Land Claims Settlement Act.

In a letter to Interior Department Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs Kevin Washburn, Moran outlined the history of “this fabled tribe” that helped win the American Revolution’s Battle of Kings Mountain – a victory Thomas Jefferson called “the turn of the tide of success.”

“The Catawbas have been faithful allies of the United States, and yet their lands and rights have been eroded by a combination of federal and state action,” Moran wrote. “It is a familiar story in the long and tragic history of federal Indian policy, but with a twist – the tribe’s rights were further undermined by Congress during my service here through passage of the Catawba Indian Land Claims Settlement Act of 1993.”

The 1993 legislation restored the tribe’s federal recognition which the federal government had taken away, but the promise that the Nation has the right to a reservation of up to 4,200 acres never materialized.

Opposition to the casino

Since the casino was proposed, there have been some who are against it.

“It is just some people, it is not a large group,” Dear said.

The Kings Mountain Awareness Group is small when compared to the county’s population, but members attend and speak at the Kings Mountain City Council meetings and the Cleveland County Commissioners’ meeting every month.

This group is opposed because of religious beliefs and what they see as a negative economic impact.

“We oppose the casino because we are factually certain of a negative economic impact,” Adam Forcade, a member of the group told The Star last year. “Our primary concern is quality of life and impact on local small business. And we want people to be an informed voice.”

Commission Chairman Jason Falls will readily listen to any comments the public brings forth during the meeting.

“Everyone is entitled to their opinion and allowed to voice their concerns,” Falls said.

And for the past several months he and the other commissioners have listened to everyone who has come forward.

Ministers voice concerns, sign petition

At Tuesday’s commissioners’ meeting a group of ministers voiced their concerns and asked commissioners to withdraw their support of the casino.

Steve Taylor, a minister in Kings Mountain, was “deeply grieved” about the casino and was upset that local leaders would show their support. He was one of several who said they were upset that “Christian people” would allow such a thing in the county.

Pastors from several churches in the area also spoke out against the proposed casino to the Kings Mountain mayor and council during the citizen recognition portion of the meeting Jan. 28. They presented a letter of over 70 signatures calling for the elected officials to withdraw support from the casino.

A survey of over 100 pastors was also presented to the council, which asked participating pastors questions about how they believed the proposed casino would affect the county. The answers presented showed most of the pastors were in agreement that the casino would have a negative effect on the community.

“I hear what you’re saying. I hope my fellow councilmembers will someday hear you too,” said Kings Mountain Councilman Tommy Hawkins, who previously revoked his support during the council’s October meeting.

What the future holds

With all the decisions on what will happen next resting in Washington, D.C., county leaders are thinking ahead on what they can do if the land is granted to the Catawba Nation.

“If it is approved, we will make sure we have a good relationship with the Catawba tribe,” Falls said.

He believes this course of action will lay the groundwork for future dealings with the tribe.

“It will be easier for us to discuss the needs of the community if we have that relationship,” Falls said.

There is no specific timeline on when a decision will be reached, but everything is in review with the Bureau of Indian Affairs and with the solicitor general’s office.

“The ultimate decision is a federal decision,” Dear said. “At the local level, it is not their decision to make. If it meets federal law, it will go through.”

Joyce Orlando can be reached at 704-669-3341, or on Twitter at @Star_J_Orlando.