Saturday, February 28, 2009

The Big Concern - Part 2

Narragansett Chief Sachem Matthew Thomas vowed yesterday that his tribe along with others nationwide will go to Congress, the White House and even the United Nations in seeking to undo a U.S. Supreme Court decision that blocks the federal government’s ability to hold lands for certain tribes.

“We’re very concerned about how this country is treating Indians,” said Thomas at tribal headquarters on South County Trail.

Providence Journal
February 26, 2009

But wait - is that the same Narragansett Tribe of Rhode Island which has about 2,137 Members and receives approximately $5.5 million tax-free federal dollars per year, and which is not required to pay taxes on any income they make on the Tribe's 1,800 acres?

Then I'd say it's a good thing that Chief Thomas ALSO doesn't have to be "concerned" about a Sovereign Nation, consisting of a modern-day Tribe he only knows from their frequent criminal escapades documented in the media isn't opening up a gambling casino next door from where he's trying to raise his kids, and which would also bring environmental devastation, increased crime, traffic, and social problems, and be funded by foreign billionaire investors with the money to influence his elected officials, while being informed that he had absolutely nothing to say about it, that it was a done deal, and that this inevitable scenario was going to play out all over this country thanks to official Federal law.

Because, I bet that would really burn his biscuits!

But it does seem to me that the scenario above isn't so terribly different (except for the $5.5 mil per year and tax-free status) from how European colonists treated Native Americans in this country in centuries past.

And we all know how that worked out.

We don't need a 'fix' to Carcieri. What we need is a reality-based dialogue as to what is 'fair', 'equal' and 'sovereign' in this nation whose constitution begins with the words, "We the People..."


Anonymous said...


Carl said...

The truth hurts sometimes. When am I as a WASP going to get the same free stuff the tribes do? So much for equal protection or rights under the law. But of course, I wouldn't want to be dependent on the government for anything. It makes it hard to understand why any person or race would not want real freedom and be dependent or voluntarily enslaved to any government.

Anonymous said...

I agree,Carl,it is different mentality. Where-is-my-check? type thinking.I would hate to be reliant upon the state or the vile money train the Wamps are t r y i n g oh so hard to ride.

Anonymous said...

That figure works out to be more than $2500 per member if that's the way it was dispensed.
There is also a school reimbursement that's not included and several other programs for which they are eligible not included.
Being slightly familiar with the state tax dollars the Wamps were receiving was bad enough, but as soon as they gained tribal recognition, the federal dollars started rolling in as well.
That on top of the $4 million they spent last year from the investors' money.
Equal treatment under the law is highly recommended.
Working for a living might help.

carverchick said...

Chief Sachem Matthew Thomas is concerned about how this country is treating indians? Is he kidding???

Well Chief, I hate to burst your bubble here, but the flawed federal policy treated it's own citizens as second class to sovereign indian nations. This ruling has not blocked the federal government's ability to hold lands for certain tribes...what it has done is blocked the Secretary of the Interior from making a decision only Congress is allowed to make. It protects the sovereignty of States and the rights of the people who live in that State....oh, but I guess sovereignty only matters when it applies to the wants and greed of Indian Tribes....jeesh!

Smoking Owl said...

I don't understand why a race of people would want to intentionally separate themselves from mainstream America. It has to be solely for the promise of big money from a casino.

African Americans struggled long and hard to end segregation. Why do Native Americans work so hard to promote segregation of their people? I don't want to sound anti Native American, but let's face reality. Most of the U.S. Citizens in New England who claim to be Native American probably have a scant trace of Indian blood in them. Their Native American ancestry has been diluted over the generations due to intermarriage with people of European or African American heritage. I have Indian ancestors but I am not fooling myself into thinking I am Native American. I am an American, period!

The word sovereign has been thrown about by Tribes. What does that really mean? They are still bound by the laws of the Federal government. They receive money from the Federal government. They use our schools, police, fire department, hospitals, and any other public service you can think of. In my mind, being sovereign means you provide those things for people on your own. Indian sovereignty is a myth created as a tool to use in fighting casino development. Maybe they achieve a certain amount of sovereignty but they remain dependent on the U.S. Government and are subject to a king, King Casino.

Smoking Owl said...

I want to make a correction to my previous comment.

I meant to say Indian sovereignty is a tool used to PROMOTE casino development.

Anonymous said...

Carcieri v Kempthorne decided the law. It should stand. It was the people's will of the states that fought the taking of land for casino investors.

I can't change what happened 400 years ago, but I can protest what's unfair now.

I agree with Smoking Owl. I, too, have Native American heritage not so far back, but would never think to use it to extort privileges.

Nocasino said...

All of us have at least one beef with what has happened to those before us.

Native Americans
Afican Americans
Asian Americans
Hispanic Americans
Irish Americans
Italian Americans

All of these people were wronged by our nation at one time. We cannot FIX it all but we can commit to not letting it happen again.

We need to work together to make the UNITED STATES better not create "Sovereign" nations from whole cloth to the detriment of the melting pot we call the UNITED States of America.

Anonymous said...

The argument "We were here first and look what you did" no longer holds.

The history of Native Americans in New England is documented and dissimilar to the Southwest.

I am more aware than most of the abuse and misuse of Native Americans in the 1800's with full blooded relatives.

Get over it!

This isn't about rights or heritage. It's about having a business advantage like tax free smoke shops and tax free gas. Or sitting on your couch and collecting a check from casino investors.

This isn't racism any longer because of the intermarriage that has transpired in 400 years.

Glenn Marshall was a Portuguese Activist before the potential casino.

Gayle Andrews has a history of being Black or Aquinnah or Wampanoag as there was cash on the horizon.


Preferential treatment should be dead. Equal rights for all.

Anonymous said...

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal....."

"We the people, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility..."

"Praise the power that hath made and preserved us a nation. Then conquer we must, when our cause is just, and be this our motto, "In God We Trust". And the star spangled banner in triumph shall wave o're the land of the free, and the home of the brave."

"One nation under God, for which it stands, with liberty and justice for all."

....some pretty powerful words here. We should ALL live under the rights we have secured. We are the United States.

Not "50 States and 550+ sovereign nations who live separately among us."

We built this country. We are all Americans. Sovereignty doesn't celebrate heritage. There are plenty of ethnic groups out there who have retained thier identity without separation.

Thank goodness for the Supreme Court.

Anonymous said...

In the press release by the Justice Dept. that announced the indictment of Glenn Marshall, one of the things that was striking was the comment about the Tribe pursuing recognition to open the spigot for federal funds.
That it did, but these were not a people who were vanished to a reservation. They were scattered and living in communities and working, owning homes and pursuing integrated lives.
Maybe what Congress needs is to rethink that handouts.

Anonymous said...

What is particularly troubling about the "Sovereign Nation" issue is that they don't have to abide by any rules, laws, standards, agreements, zoning, liability laws, environmental requirements, hazardous waste disposal, criminal statutes, regulations or anything.
There are many cases in which Native Americans have been cheated by polluting corporations and others out of their fair share and out of their lands because of BIA corruption and Native Americans' naivete. There are cases in which they have been left with toxic waste sites for pennies.
The Cape Cod Times article that commented on the contract the Mashpee Wampanoags "signed" by Glenn Marshall requires that the Tribe pay back the monies advanced by Kerzner/Wolman with a specified expiration date if no casino is built. There seems to be no requirements on those investors if they back out of the agreement.
Since those investors have defaulted on loans for Twin Rivers and may file bankruptcy if Rhode Island doesn't bail them out, the option of them bailing out of the Middleboro deal might seem likely. Regardless of the details, what I see is a Tribe or Glenn Marshall who didn't have adequate legal guidance to protect their interests.
My recollection of the IGA with Middleborough is that there is no protection for them in that either. They have to continue to pay the engineering costs, the $250K annually for planning, and real estate taxes on land they don't own.
If McDermott and Stephen Graham represented the Tribe in negotiations, were they well served?
I'm not arguing the casino issue itself, but rather the foolishness of everyone involved to believe that contracts of this magnitude should be negotiated without the light of day.
Many have protested the rushed Middleborough process, but what of the Mashpee Wampanoags who have to pay back a commitment signed by Glenn Marshall that no one questioned?
We know it exceeds $4 million.
That was the amount reportedly spent last year alone.
That was the amount indicated in Marshall's indictment.
Is it $8 million?
Are those Tribal members who rallied around the potential casino and what it represented to them (which was a monthly income check)now going to reach into their pockets and repay foreign casino investors?
It should be interesting to see how they weasel out of that contract.
Oh, yes! Sovereign Rights! Now I remember.
Beyond that, my point is that many of us protested that we were prevented from publicly scrutinizing the Middleborough Agreement. There was no such protest from the Tribe except from Amelia Bingham.
So it seems, it's OK to accept a monthly casino check, but don't expect an acceptance of responsibility or due diligence regarding tribal business.