Two days ago, before Department of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar approved the Cape Wind project, I posted this: New York Times resolves Cape Wind dispute with Native Americans – for $24 and a box of beads.
Obviously, this title line is an inaccurate portrayal of what the “Gray Lady” editorial actually said. Their actual statement was, “Mr. Salazar could ease the blow for the Indian tribes with financial compensation.” In reality, it doesn’t appear the Native Americans are going to get anything this time around, except the shaft … literally! The turbine shafts of 130 massive turbines plopped onto their “ancestral burial grounds on lands that were above water thousands of years ago.”
So, here’s how Secretary Salazar announced his decision, “After careful consideration of all the concerns expressed during the lengthy review and consultation process and thorough analyses of the many factors involved, I find that the public benefits weigh in favor of approving the Cape Wind project at the Horseshoe Shoal location,” Salazar said in an announcement at the State House in Boston. “With this decision we are beginning a new direction in our Nation’s energy future, ushering in America’s first offshore wind energy facility and opening a new chapter in the history of this region.”
Salazar emphasized that the Department has taken extraordinary steps to fully evaluate Cape Wind’s potential impacts on traditional cultural resources and historic properties, including government-to-government consultations with the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah) and the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe and that he was “mindful of our unique relationship with the Tribes and carefully considered their views and concerns.”
Further, Salazar said he understood and respected the views of the Tribes and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, but noted that as Secretary of the Interior, he must balance broad, national public interest priorities in his decisions. “The need to preserve the environmental resources and rich cultural heritage of Nantucket Sound must be weighed in the balance with the importance of developing new renewable energy sources and strengthening our Nation’s energy security while battling climate change and creating jobs,” Salazar said.
It seems the Tribes are not pleased with the outcome of Secretary Salazar’s decision and plan to fight. Brighter Energy reports that the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah) said: “We are disheartened and disappointed with Secretary Salazar’s decision to proceed with the Cape Wind project. The Tribe has no choice but to explore all of its options for relief from this decision, including injunctive relief.
“Under the advice of counsel, no further comment will be made at this time,” added the group in its statement.
Ironically, the Department of Interior has responsibility to insure Native Americans are treated in accordance to the treaties, regulations and all the other promises we made in order to make us feel better about kicking them off their lands decades ago. I found it interesting that Secretary Salazar’s own National Park Service believes the tribes have a case!
The good news is, this time around the “counsel” representing the Tribes bring some real legal clout. Back in the days of President Andrew Jackson, the Native American’s “council” consisted of tribal leaders helplessly facing reality, and moving from their ancestral homes at the point of a gun.
And speaking of Andrew Jackson, he gave a rather interesting speech to Congress back in 1830. The title was, “On Indian Removal.” Take a peek at a few phrases from that speech and see if you come away with a feeling of Déjà vu:
- “It gives me pleasure to announce to Congress that the benevolent policy of the Government, steadily pursued for nearly thirty years, in relation to the removal of the Indians beyond the white settlements is approaching to a happy consummation.“
- The removal would “perhaps cause them gradually, under the protection of the Government and through the influence of good counsels, to cast off their savage habits and become an interesting, civilized, and Christian community.”
- “What good man would prefer a country covered with forests and ranged by a few thousand savages to our extensive Republic, studded with cities, towns, and prosperous farms embellished with all the improvements which art can devise or industry execute …?“
- “Doubtless it will be painful to leave the graves of their fathers; but what do they more than our ancestors did or than our children are now doing? To better their condition in an unknown land our forefathers left all that was dear in earthly objects. Our children by thousands yearly leave the land of their birth to seek new homes in distant regions. Does Humanity weep at these painful separations from everything, animate and inanimate, with which the young heart has become entwined? Far from it. It is rather a source of joy that our country affords scope where our young population may range unconstrained in body or in mind, developing the power and facilities of man in their highest perfection.“
- “Can it be cruel in this Government when, by events which it can not control, the Indian is made discontented in his ancient home to purchase his lands, to give him a new and extensive territory, to pay the expense of his removal, and support him a year in his new abode? How many thousands of our own people would gladly embrace the opportunity of removing to the West on such conditions! If the offers made to the Indians were extended to them, they would be hailed with gratitude and joy.”
- “And is it supposed that the wandering savage has a stronger attachment to his home than the settled, civilized Christian? Is it more afflicting to him to leave the graves of his fathers than it is to our brothers and children? Rightly considered, the policy of the General Government toward the red man is not only liberal, but generous.“
There you have it … “Rightly considered, the policy of the General Government toward the red man is not only liberal, but generous,” Unless it gets in the way of our progress, of course. How little things have changed!
Sure, Secretary Salazar insists that he will require the “additional and detailed marine archaeological surveys and other protective measures in the project area. A full suite of remote sensing tools will be used to ensure seafloor coverage out to 1000 feet beyond the Area of Potential Effect. More predictive modeling and settlement pattern analyses also will be conducted as well as geotechnical coring and analyses to aid in the identification of intact landforms that could contain archaeological materials. Moreover, the Chance Finds Clause in the lease will not only halt operations if cultural resources or indicators suggesting the possibility of cultural habitation are found but also allow the Tribes to participate in reviewing and analyzing such potential finds.” Somehow, this doesn’t seem to calm the fears of the Tribes.
There will be plenty of sincere and aggressive groups fighting this decision with court actions. I admit I’m very skeptical of industrial wind being placed anywhere. This blog is full of factual information I’ve found to settle my mind that industrial wind is worthless. There will be time to fight the fight against this unreliable, expensive and inadequate form of energy production another day.
But today, at least for me, I keep thinking of Andrew Jackson, Ken Salazar and “the removal of Indians” … for after all, while we speak in a more politically correct tone than in Jackson’s time, the results for our Native American friends seem to remain the same.
I’ve included for your convenience the following related documents, some of which I refer to in this post:
USDOI Press Release – Cape Wind Approval:
Andrew Jackson’s Message to Congress On Indian Removal:
USDOI Cape Wind Record of Decision:
USDOI Cape Wind Final Environmental Assessment:
USDOI Cape Wind Advisory Council on Historic Preservation:
USDOI Cape Wind Fact Sheet:
USDOI CApe Wind Finding of no significant impact
USDOI Cape Wind Map: