Cape Wind: Letter is a call to “honor Obama Administration’s commitment and Trust responsibility to Native Americans”

Barbara Durkin’s letter to Secretary Ken Salazar is provided courtesy of Jon Boone:

February 8, 2010

To the Honorable Secretary Ken Salazar:

President Obama, the adopted son of Crow Indians, has made a commitment to fully consult and collaborate with Native Americans on federal decisions.  The President cited a long history of abuse of the first Americans, their culture, and of broken promises and violated treaties.  “There is too little consultation between governments”, stated our President.

Noting the extraordinary leap of faith on the part of the largest assembly in the history of our nation of Native American’s, President Obama made a promise to have meaningful consultation with Tribes.  “Today’s conference is not lip service” stated our President.

The time is now, Secretary Salazar, to demonstrate the integrity of this Administration.  Our honor as a nation is at stake as the President is the representative of all Americans.

Cape Wind would have a devastating adverse effect on the Federally Recognized Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah) and the Federally Recognized Mashpee Wampanoag’s Traditional and Cultural Property.  Their Eastern View is the essence of; and a fundamental component of their Cultural Identity, Traditional Beliefs and Religious Practices.

“Because there is strength in unity”

United South and Eastern Tribes, Inc. (USET) Resolution No. 2009:026

Document excerpts:

United South and Eastern Tribes, Incorporated (USET) is an intertribal organization of twenty (25) federally recognized Tribes…”

The USET Board of Directors…“…calls upon the Department of Interior to halt any further Minerals Management Services action on the Cape Winds Wind Farm Project due to lack of or failure to complete good faith meaningful consultation, lack of compliance with existing regulation and failure to adequately consider reasonable and/or other variable alternatives.”

“Brian Patterson, president of the United South and Eastern Tribes, wrote to Salazar on behalf of the organization’s 25 federally recognized member tribes to support the Wampanoags’ efforts to assure that the Cape Wind project is not developed “at the expense of ancient tribal cultural and spiritual practice and beliefs.”

“The waterways around the United States are not vacant spaces. They belong to the history and culture of the coastal peoples of America,” Patterson wrote.

The particular waters of Nantucket Sound are essential to spiritual purposes that go to the heart of the Wampanoags’ identity as the People of the First Light, Patterson wrote.

“For those not familiar with Native culture, it can be hard to see the sacred spaces of America as Native people have seen them for thousands of years, but most Americans would understand that you could never build a wind turbine farm on top of the Gettysburg battlefield.”

Cheryl Andrews-Maltais Chairwoman of the
Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah) said in my presence:

“The idea of blasting our ancients’ remains is repugnant.”

In 1990 the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA), was passed. In 1992 NHPA was amended again, to expand federal agency responsibilities and establish programs for supporting tribal historic preservation programs. National Register Bulletin 38 (1990:10) says that “the integrity of a traditional cultural property must be considered with reference to the views of traditional practitioners; if its integrity has not been lost in their eyes, it probably has sufficient integrity to justify further evaluation.”

The American Indian Religious Freedom Act (AIRFA) expresses the strong federal public trust policy in favor of respecting the traditional religious beliefs and practices Native Americans. AIRFA provides for the protection and preservation of traditional religions of Native Americans.

On and after August 11, 1978, it shall be the policy of the United States to protect and preserve for American Indians their inherent right of freedom to believe, express, and exercise the traditional religions of the American Indian, Eskimo, Aleut, and Native Hawaiians, including but not limited to access to sites, use and possession of sacred objects, and the freedom to worship through ceremonials and traditional rites.

The thought of the federal government awarding a Limited Liability Corporation a precedent “no bid” deal for the Tribes’ “traditional cultural property” is repugnant.  The notion that a Limited Liability Corporation, in a for profit venture, by special interest “no bid” deal, could be given preferential treatment that effectively ends the 10,000 year ancestral use of Nantucket Sound by Native Americans is repugnant.

Renewing the trust responsibility with Native American’s by Executive Order is a promise that I hope and pray this Administration will not betray.  You have reached out to Native American’s promising things will be different with this Administration.  To betray this Trust would be an abomination.  We cannot ignore the needs of rights of Native Americans, and refer to our Nation as honorable and civilized.

I ask you to please acknowledge that Cape Wind has selected the Nantucket Sound site, and that its principle attractiveness to this Limited Liability Corporation is a “no bid” deal.  Cape Wind has no incentive, unless provided one, to move their project to a less conflicted location that will not cause the desecration of Sacred Land, a traditional cultural property.

Please honor this Administration’s commitment and Trust responsibility to Native Americans.  The Federally Recognized Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah), and the Federally Recognized Mashpee Wampanoag must have their treaties honored.  Their 10,000 year stewardship of Nantucket Sound must continue if the United States and its citizens are to be considered moral, just and honorable.  Our integrity as a nation must not be compromised again as it has been in the past.

Most Respectfully,

Barbara Durkin

Northboro, MA  01532

Supplemental information:

‘Cape Wind is a proposed public safety hazard’

‘Even Rich Nimbys can’t afford Cape Wind energy’

‘Cape Wind presents immitigable harm to migratory and endangered birds’
‘The Cape Wind review v taxpayers and ratepayers (Cape Wind does not provide a fair return to the Nation for the use of our resources’
‘Cape Wind is in conflict with the OCS Final Rules’

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