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RELEASE DATE: THURSDAY, APRIL 4, 2002

Contact:
Leonard Peltier Defense Committee (785) 842-5774;

NATIVE AMERICAN ACTIVIST FILES LAWSUIT AGAINST FBI

Former FBI Director Louis Freeh is named as a defendant in a lawsuit filed today by attorneys for imprisoned Native American activist, Leonard Peltier. Freeh, along with the FBI Agents Association and a long list of active FBI agents, are accused of violating Peltier's Constitutional rights by making false and unsupported statements to the public, the Department of Justice, the United States Parole Commission, and former President Clinton. The complaint, filed in U.S. District Court, Washington D.C., alleges that the FBI "engaged in a systematic, and officially sanctioned campaign of mis-information and dis-information" designed to prevent Peltier from receiving fair clemency and parole reviews.

The suit follows a highly controversial campaign conducted by the FBI to stop former president Bill Clinton from issuing Peltier a grant of executive clemency during his last days in office. FBI agents across the nation submitted letters to the editor, sponsored major newspaper and radio ads, and marched by the hundreds in front of the White House to discourage clemency. Former FBI Director Louis Freeh wrote searing letters to Bill Clinton and Janet Reno, to urge against Peltier's release. The campaign, which gained national attention, characterized Pelier as a cold-blooded killer who brutally shot two FBI agents at point blank range. Peltier's attorneys and supporters assert that this characterization is not only false but intentionally deceptive given the government's long held position that it cannot prove who shot the agents. Furthermore, they say it cost Peltier, now 57 years of age and in poor health, his long deserved freedom.

Peltier has served more than 26 years in prison for the deaths of two FBI agents killed in a 1975 shoot-out on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Peltier's supporters claim the FBI terrorized witnesses, utilized false testimony and withheld a ballistic test proving Peltier's innocence to gain his conviction. Senior Eighth Circuit Judge Gerald Heaney, who denied Peltier a new trial based on a legal technicality, has since come forward to support Peltier's release, citing FBI misconduct. Amnesty International, the Kennedy Memorial Center for Human Rights, Rev. Jesse Jackson, Rigoberta Menchu Tum, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Corretta Scott King, and scores of Native tribes are among those who consider Peltier a political prisoner who should be freed.

 

Bush Wants Navajo Ruling Reversed

MARCH 27, 2002

The Bush administration has asked the Supreme Court to overturn a landmark $600 million trust fund claim won by the Navajo Nation for fear other tribes will file similar challenges.

Charging that "significant" resources are at stake, the Department of Justice this month called on the nation's highest court to throw out an August 2001 ruling made in the tribe's favor. Unless the lower decision is reversed, the Bush administration says the government could face "adverse consequences."

"The decision below will encourage the filing of damages claims against the United States for breach of trust," Solicitor General Ted Olson writes in his March 15 brief. "At a minimum, such a development will subject the United States to costly litigation."

At issue are Navajo tribal leases with Peabody Coal, which has mined Navajo and Hopi lands since the 1960s. All sides in the dispute, including the Department of Interior, agree a 12.5 percent royalty rate contained in the agreements is far below accepted market value for the coal.

But the Bush administration disputes the notion that it has a trust responsibility to ensure better returns. The Navajo Nation cannot point to any specific law which imposes such a higher duty, Olson claims.

In arguing the case in the lower courts, the tribe has countered that underhanded dealings of the Reagan administration show the government has violated its obligations. Specifically, the tribe points out then-Secretary Paul Hodel in 1985 held secret meetings with a Peabody lobbyist, Stanley Hulett, who happened to be a personal friend.

Without knowledge of the discussions, the tribe was subsequently encouraged to work with the company to come to a resolution. Additionally, it was never disclosed that the Bureau of Indian Affairs approved more favorable 37.5 percent rate after a standard internal appeals process.

As a result of the "suppressing and concealing" by government officials, the tribe was forced to accept the lower rate "facing economic pressure," wrote the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals in a 2-1 decision. The appeals panel said a lower court must determine exactly how much the tribe is owed.

A dissenting voice, however, said the tribe could only be awarded limited damages. Unlike Olson, all three judges agreed a trust relationship existed but U.S. District Judge Lawrence M. Baskir said it doesn't "mandate monetary relief."

Coupled with a case involving the White Mountain Apache Tribe, the request for the Supreme Court's intervention represents the Bush administration's attempt clarify what it considers the federal circuit's departure from trust law. The appeals court has issued decisions which could force payouts in addition to the Cobell class action affecting individual Indians.

For the Navajo Nation, the case has represented victory after nearly a decade of litigation, including an initial negative decision by a federal judge. With the presence of former Reagan appointees, including Ross Swimmer and Deputy Secretary J. Steven Griles, in the current administration, the dispute has gained added fire among tribal officials who have vehemently opposed Secretary Gale Norton's proposal to reorganize Indian trust duties.

The Navajo Nation's attorney will be filing a response, due April 18, to the government's petition for writ of certiorari.

Relevant Documents:

DOJ Brief (March 15, 2002) | NAVAJO NATION v. US, No 00-5086 (Fed Cir. August 10, 2001)

 

United Native American Cultural Center (UNACC)
13 Antietam Street, Building P-5
Devens, Massachusetts 01432
March 28, 2002

Press Release
For Immediate Release
Contacts: Business Director, Cynthia Martin (508) 335-3315
Founder, Onkwe Tase (978) 957-4714

Native Veterans' Center is Kicked out of Building at Devens

Support Sought from Veterans, Educators, Native Americans

Press Conference Scheduled for April 3, 7:00 PM, Bldg. P-5, Devens

Devens-The United Native American Cultural Center (UNACC) has been told by MassDevelopment to vacate its Cultural Center by May 18 at Building P-5 on Devens. The date coincides with the group's annual Unity Days event.

A Press Conference will be held by UNACC, its supporters, and directors on April 3, 2002 at 7:00 pm in Building P-5 (the former Army Museum and Stables) on Antietam Street at Devens.

Previous agreements and representations from MassDevelopment clearly states ``The Ft. Devens Reuse Center has deemed UNACC the preferred occupant of the building. (We consider) this an … unlawful attempt to terminate UNACC's right to use and possess Building P-5 and its adjacent land." The letter further states ``UNACC will now press its claims to possess not only Building P-5, but also the adjacent 20-acre land area." The letter, along with Mass Development's, is attached.

Background

In 1993, when it was clear that Ft. Devens was to close, Onkwe Tase, a survivor of the D-Day invasion at Normandy and today a familiar presence at area schools where he presents Native American cultural events, solicited the support of area legislators, the U.S. Army, and the Massachusetts Land Bank for an empty building at Devens to be a multi-cultural gathering place where veterans and others are honored.

Onkwe Tase gathered thousands of signatures, one-by-one, in support of this dream by attending town meetings, Ft. Devens Reuse meetings, and veterans' groups.

UNACC became the only multi-tribal, veterans' cultural center known to exist on a de-commissioned army base, anywhere.

Roland Jerome, who drums and sings a sacred Mi'kmaq honoring song for children at local schools, and who recently stepped down as President of UNACC for health reasons, explained the group's economic position. ``When we use the drum," he said, ``we are honoring our culture as well as the people to whom we are singing. The drum is sacred. We do not take money." The Center, he explained, has been paying its bills and honoring the Interim Lease Agreement primarily with donations and earnings from its events.

The Center has been denied several grants because of the lack of a formal lease with MassDevelopment. ``These grants," said Cynthia Martin, volunteer Director since 1994, ``would have allowed the center to have full-time employees who would put UNACC in a better business management and self-sufficiency position and keep abreast with 501C3 programs offered through MassDevelopment." The grant applications reflect the Center's goals, including some for construction and maintenance, and a U. S. Parks and Recreation Grant called ``Warriors of Fort Devens, Past, Present and Future," to honor Native and non-Native veterans.

``Members have presented cultural programs at surrounding schools, including Ayer, Pepperell, Shirley, Leominster, Fitchburg, Billerica, and Maynard. Members have worked on programs with Harvard University's Peabody Museum, the Peabody Museum of Archeology at Phillips Academy in Andover, the Parker Charter School, and the Fruitlands Museum in Harvard, MA," Ms. Martin said.

``We are calling on all these people - from museum directors and university presidents to school children - to tell MassDevelopment that they have made a mistake," said Ms. Martin.

Working with MassDevelopment

``UNACC has had difficulty with its lease arrangements at Devens for the past 5 years. It had no difficulty negotiating with the United States Government, or with Massachusetts Land Bank. Once the Land Bank and the Massachusetts Industrial Finance Agency merged to create MassDevelopment, however, UNACC was unable to negotiate a formal lease," said Ms. Martin.

In a letter from Mass Development to UNACC dated March 20, 2002, MassDevelopment stated the following:

``After 10 months of intensive negotiations and 7 years of UNACC's use of building P-5 under an Interim Use Agreement dated May 31, 1995 (the "Agreement") it is clear that MassDevelopment and UNACC can not agree to mutually satisfactory lease terms as proposed under the Agreement. Please be advised that this letter serves as notice to UNACC that the Agreement is terminated as of sixty (60) days (the "termination date") after receipt of this letter."

``This action by MassDevelopment calls in to question the entire process and intent of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts' creation of MassDevelopment and Reuse Plans of Ft. Devens," Lorena Novak, volunteer Board Secretary at UNACC said. ``If Devens is to be used for businesses exclusively, the people of the Commonwealth as well as all veterans should be alerted that the land on their de-commissioned army bases has been taken over by powerful business interests, and veterans groups and others can go find another place. The communities surrounding Devens need to know that their arrangements with MassDevelopment may not honored."

``MassDevelopment's tactics are not new to the Native community," Ms. Novak said. ``However, their actions jeopardize others this time, including educators, veterans and preservation groups. We are not a budgetary problem for anyone. We're being axed, it appears, for greed."

Ms. Novak concluded, ``MassDevelopment's web page states its holdings to be in the billion dollar range. We are a small group of people providing services by volunteers. Even the thousands of hours of legal and accountant time needed to fight MassDevelopment over the past eight years has been donated."

Members include veterans of World War II, the Korean conflict, Viet Nam, and Desert Storm. Tribal representation includes Mohawk, Abenaki, Cherokee, Chippewa, Blackfoot, Inupiaq, and Mi'kmaq, among others.

 

The Heart & Strength of a Nation is its women

Congratulation's to Marie Nanamaguey Crooke for being awarded The 2002 Diversity Enhancement Award from over 40 Federal agencies in New York State.

Marie has certainly earned this award and we should all feel proud of her.

Marie is a Native Taino Boricua woman, who in her capacity as Chief of Voluntary & Chaplain programs for the Department of Veterans Affairs, pioneered the very first Native American Special Emphasis Program. The program is now in three veterans hospitals in the NY/NJ Metropolitan area. She also started the largest Youth Volunteer Program in the Veterans hospital's Integrated network.(VISN#3)

Marie has presented workshops for the national Native American Advisory Council/Equal Employment opportunity office. She coordinated the first Native American health fair in the Tri-state area VA hospitals. She brought together Native American health care professionals and veterans to discuss the specific health issues of American Indian veterans. This event also provided testing for diabetes, and professional counselors to advise Native veterans on programs available to them. She has enlisted human resources personal in a project to recruit members of native communities for employment in government agencies.

Marie's work has promoted a better understanding by others of native American traditional healing practices and beliefs, in the VA hospital network and other related agencies as well.

As a native woman and healer, she has also coordinated and presented special observances, activities and events at the VA. These events are consistent with indigenous peoples respect for Mother earth and all her people.

On August 31.2000 she held a tree of life ceremony in which a Heritage birch tree was planted on the Bronx, VA hospital grounds in honor of all world cultures. The ceremony was headed by native healers and member clergy of the interfaith community. In attendance were VA staff, volunteers, veterans and their families. After this, two more trees have been planted. One in honor of POW/MIA's and one in memory of the World Trade Center victims of Sept 11, 2001.

Marie earned her Bachelors degree in fine arts and her Master's Degree in Therapeutic Recreation. She has worked for The Department of Veterans Affairs for 17 years. She became chief of recreation therapy at Northport VAMC in 1993. In 1994 chief of voluntary programs at Bronx VAMC. In October of 1995, the chaplain's program was consolidated under her leadership. The members of the native American committee headed by her at the Bronx, VA are from the Cherokee, Chickahomney, Taino and Mohawk people.

Marie's service to her people extends far beyond the VA. Using her own funds, she founded two non-for profit organizations.T.A.L.K (Taino Ancestral Legacy Keepers) which she started in 1998. T.A.L.K gave free of charge assistance to the Taino community in genealogical research. In the year 2000 she gave up her directorship of Talk and, as she put it, the voice of my spirit has created a new path for me to follow and I need to do more. She moved to start Ku-Karay Taino Spiritual Circle.Ku-Karay offers community instruction in the Taino language and traditions. It is also a place of spiritual gathering for the native community.Ku-Karay has since been added to the Indigenous section of the World Conference on religion and peace women's program. This is an NGO committee of the United Nation's.

Marie has been acknowledged for her work by the office of the Bronx County Borough President, The offices of Museo del Barrio in New York City and The Voice of Mother Earth Indigenous Women's conference committee. Marie is the winner of numerous community citation's for her selfless service to others.

A talented musician and poet. Marie's love for her people and her native pride is also expressed in her songs and poetry. She has recently completed her first book. She calls this her little book of inspiration. Dedicated to her people, this book debuts on May 10th 2002. Marie Nanamaguey Crooke, Activist, writer, spokeswoman. A tireless warrior for the people. Native Taino Boricua medicine woman, you are among the unsung heroes of our people. We join together in honoring you for being the recipient of this prestigious award, rightfully so.

Thank you Marie for your dedication to your people and as you so well stated. May we all work together weaving our strengths as native women.

The 2002 FEB Diversity Enhancement Award will be presented at a breakfast ceremony on Thursday, May 8, 2002, during the Public Service Recognition Week at the University Club located on 54th Street and 5th Avenue. For Information call # 718-741-4212

 

Oneida People speak out:

In the land of the Oneida stands a rock, which is the very center of the Oneida heart and where it stands, forever stands the Oneida people. By treaty or not, the Spirit of all Spirits has made this so and no man spoken word can delete this. So what is this I hear about the segregation of the tribe and the so-called chiefs making house inspections; it smells like its coming from another source. Remember the more tears in the skins of the Longhouse door the more the enemy will enter and run-a-muck. So whilst some will say its justice in the eyes of the chiefs; is it money speaking here or people or even more the great spirit/ mother Earth who put you there. Mother Earth words are your blessing not the scorn of the anger of money bending people. To the innocent you have the blood of warriors and the hearts and minds are one of all Haudenosaunee. I say this and yet I have little to say that I am Mohawk; but I love all Haudenosaunee, Christian or whatever you wish to call yourselves, a peoples a people and only the Great Spirit knows His/Her children by what they are, not by any name.

My love and support to you all. Peter

Editor's Note: I am NOT Haudenosaunee. I pray that ALL leaders could realize that the things that this self-placed leader of the Oneida people is selling out all Traditional People. His is giving away OUR SOVERNITY for a few pieces of silver. He, at minimum, caused indecision and inaction among the TRUE LEADERS of the Haudenasaunee. These ones don't seem to see that the end result of the actions and negotiations with the State of NY and the US Government is the beginning of the end for ALL OF OUR NATIONS SOVERNITY.

All peoples should be crying FOUL in the Four directions. We should be trying to make All Leaders get involved and stop this Oneida self-proclaimed leader from harassing his people on Rez. Even if this is a Family issue, as I have heard as a reason not to get involved, Native People DO NOT allow Clan Mothers and Traditional Councils to be treated like this. I was taught that a CLAN Mother was due the respect of All People and that if one disagrees one goes to All that Nations Clan Mothers and let them reason with her or try to explain to you your error. One does not ignore the decisions of the Clan Mothers or Traditional Council and enact your own Council and LAWS. Even if this were only a Family Disagreement how can we stand by and watch OUR TRADITIONS stepped on.

Our Leaders should be shouting that this man and his PAID council have no right to negotiate for All the Oneida nor to abrogate the Sovern Rights of all Native People. We should be listening to the Ones who KNOW that this man's is settlement with NY is going to be an abrogation of the Nation to Nation rights of the Oneida and the first step or prescient that can be used to destroy all Nations Sovern Rights. He, to gain his pieces of silver, is even ignoring All the Oneida. His seems willing to sell out ALL Native People for his silver.

All My Relations, if I have made ANY sense to you. Look closely at this situation. If you see my POINT, get involved. Go to your Traditional People and try to get them involved. We MUST save our Traditions and Traditional People from the lost of all our Sovernity rights. We are THE PEOPLE and we cannot allow Ray Halbritter to sell our SOVERN NATION RIGHTS for money in any form. I also believe that the treatment of the Wolf Clan Mothers and the True Traditional Council is an affront to ALL Traditional Peoples.

 

Drilling Could Hurt Wildlife, Federal Study of Arctic Says

By SAM HOWE VERHOVEK

SEATTLE, March 29 - Undercutting the Bush administration's case for oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska, a federal study released today said that such drilling could harm caribou, snow geese, musk oxen and other wildlife.

The report, by the United States Geological Survey, a branch of the Interior Department, comes just a week and a half before the Senate is scheduled to begin debating the White House's plan to allow drilling in the 19-million-acre refuge. Drilling was approved in an energy plan backed by the House, but opponents say they have the votes in the Democrat-controlled Senate to block it.

The report paid particular attention to the Porcupine River caribou herd, which is 125,000 strong and masses on the Arctic coastal plain early each summer to gorge on tundra grass and flowers and to give birth after a long migration from the Canadian Yukon.

"Oil development will most likely result in restricting the location of concentrated calving areas, calving sites and annual calving grounds," the report said. Among the expected effects, it said, are reductions in the survival of calves in June, in the weight in pregnant females and in the weight of calves in late June.

Proponents of drilling have long contended that the caribou can easily coexist with drilling, just as a separate herd (though one that is larger and has a less strenuous migration pattern) has done with the drilling 100 miles or so to the west, near Prudhoe Bay.

Both the White House and the Interior Department took pains today to play down the report, arguing that it was based on an earlier and more invasive plan for drilling that has since been revised.

"We're not looking at what the U.S.G.S. studied," a White House spokesman, Gordon Johndroe, who was traveling with President Bush in Texas, said today. "We are talking about exploring a very small part" of the refuge.

An Interior Department spokesman in Washington, Mark Pfeifle, told The Associated Press that the report "bolsters the administration's mandate" to develop the refuge with strict regard for environmental regulations. "It demonstrates that with new technology, tough regulations and common-sense management, we can protect wildlife and produce energy," Mr. Pfeifle said.

But opponents of drilling quickly said the report was just the latest in a string of findings by lower-level agencies that directly contradicted administration assertions that the refuge could be developed without harming the environment.

"Once again the administration has released a report undermining its own case," said Senator Joseph I. Lieberman, Democrat of Connecticut.

Just how much oil is locked below the Arctic permafrost is unclear, but estimates are 3 billion to 16 billion barrels. That would be only a few months of the nation's oil supply, as drilling opponents say, using the lower range, or as much as 30 years' worth of current daily imports from some Middle Eastern countries, as supporters say, citing the higher figures.

In addition to studying the caribou and geese, the report analyzed drilling's impact on the roughly 300 prehistoric-looking musk oxen that are among the more striking wildlife sights in the refuge.

"Musk oxen in the refuge are vulnerable to disturbance from activities associated with petroleum exploration and extraction because of their year-round residency, their small population numbers and their need to conserve energy throughout the long winter if they are to successfully reproduce," the report said.

The oxen barely move in winter, an important factor in keeping them alive in the frigid months. Drilling, the report said, could change that by forcing them to use up their own vital energy stores in moving away from the noise and tumult of an industrial energy structure.

"Disturbances that induce displacement from prime winter habitats or increase activity and movement," the report said, "could increase energetic costs to musk oxen in winter."

American Cherokee Confederacy
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 info@acconfederacy.org
Fax 229-787-0073