This Week's Program: Wednesday, June 7, 2006

A Debate on the Native Hawaii Recognition Bill; 100 Days: An Update on the Six Nations Standoff in Caledonia; The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe Moves Towards Federal Recognition

100 Days of Occupation: Six Nations Standoff at Caledonia Continuessix nations standoff in Caledonia First Nations chiefs from across Ontario pledged their support to Caledonia protestors yesterday on the eve of the occupation’s 100th day. The group of 100 chiefs also warned governments to expect more occupations if aboriginal land claims aren’t settled. "We are all one nation across this country," said Grand Council Chief John Beaucage, who represents 43 First Nations across the province. Six Nations spokesperson Clyde Powless said the mass show of support was about more than Caledonia. "Canada," he shouted, "this giant you woke up grew enormously today and will continue to grow." Meanwhile in the Canadian Parliament on Monday, Progressive Conservatives leader John Tory made a motion calling for a public inquiry into Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty’s handling of the Caledonia standoff. Liberals failed to vote down the motion even though they have a majority in the legislature. There were only 6 or 7 Liberals in the legislature at the time. McGuinty dismissed the motion’s vote as “mischief-making” and told reporters on Tuesday the vote shows the Progressive Conservatives who sponsored it “have not drawn the lessons that should be drawn from Ipperwash.” In 1995, police killed native protestor Dudley George at Ipperwash provincial park. An inquiry to determine if the PC government of Mike Harris directed police force against protestors who occupied the provincial park on Lake Huron has not yet concluded. In February, Six Nations members occupied or reclaimed land where a housing development was under construction. The situation became more tense weeks ago after the Ontario Provincial Police stormed the site to enforce a court order as land claims talks continued. The Six Nations community has made it clear they want to deal primarily with the federal government. An update from: Kahentinetha Horn, Editor of Mohawk Nation News,

Debate on the Native Hawaiian Recognition Bill: Giving Native Hawaiians Their Long Overdue or Preventing Land and Sovereignty Claims? The U.S. Senate debated for three hours on Wednesday the long-stalled Native Hawaiian Recognition Bill. The bill would recognize a legal and political relationship between the United States and a Native Hawaiian governing entity, giving Native Hawaiians self-governing rights similar to those of Native American tribes. The Native Hawaiian governing entity would be authorized to negotiate with the state and federal governments over such issues as historical grievances and control of natural resources, lands and assets. Yesterday on the Senate floor, opponents blasted the bill as divisive and race-based. Supporters said the bill would give recognition that’s long overdue for Native Hawaiians. It has been called the Akaka bill after it’s sponsor, Democratic Senator Dan Akaka. He says Native Hawaiians have not been given the same treatment as other indigenous people in the U.S. Republican Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee launched the longest attack on the bill yesterday calling it a “dangerous precedent.” He said “If we start down this path, the end may be the disintegration of the United States into ethnic enclaves… [it] Wouldn't be much different than if American citizens who were descended from Hispanics who lived in Texas before it became a republic in 1836 created their own tribe.” Republican Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona voiced concern that the bill will “divide Hawaii and encourage racial division there and elsewhere.” The bill’s supporters who spoke yesterday on the Senate included both Democratic Senators from Hawaii, Republican Sen. Ted Stevens from Alaska, and Democratic Sen. Barack Obama. Meanwhile, in Hawaii yesterday a group of Native Hawaiians occupied Iolani Palace for a couple of hours to protest the bill. Members of the group Hui Pu said the Akaka bill would prevent Hawaiian land and sovereignty claims, among other things. One protestor said, “I think it is important that history knows that Hawaiians stood up against this bill despite that fact that there is hundreds of thousands of dollars of propaganda by the Office of Hawaiian Affairs and other organizations to support this bill.” This according to KITV Honolulu. Lobbyists for the bill include the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, the National Congress of American Indians, the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement and the American Bar Association. Anne Keala Kelly, Native Hawai'ian journalist and filmmaker. She is working on a documentary called "Noho Hewa Ma: The Wrongful Occupation of Hawai'i." Robert Klein, attorney with the Office of Hawaiian Affairs as its board counsel, and a former associate justice of the Supreme Court of Hawaii. While on the high court, Klein authored the landmark decision expanding the rights of Hawaiians to enter some private property for traditional gathering, religious and cultural practices.

Federal Recognition in the United States: The Mashpee Wampanoag Seek Tribal Status After decades of work, the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe in Massachusetts was recently accorded preliminary acknowledgment by the Bureau of Indian Affairs as a federally recognized Indian tribe. The Mashpee Wampanoag were among the earliest Native peoples of North America to have significant contact with Europeans. Almost 400 years ago, they greeted the Pilgrims who arrived on the Mayflower near what is now the town of Plymouth. It is their story that has been mythologized in the celebration of Thanksgiving. Federal recognition will make this tribe the 564th recognized tribe in the nation and the second in Massachusetts. The preliminary decision is followed by a 210-day public comment period. The tribe will receive final determination by March 31, 2007. Glenn Marshall, Chairman of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Council. Christine Grabowski, PhD. She has more than 20 years experience in federal recognition and has testified before Congress on the process. She is the principal of Grabowski & Associates, LLC, a consulting firm specializing in economic development, research and analysis, and communications for Indian country.