Western New York: Seneca nation

Governor Cuomo announced an agreement between New York State and the Seneca Nation of Indians that resolved a multi-year dispute between the State and the Nation.

Seneca nationA striking phenomenon was that twice on our vacation, we left the country, kind of. The green highway signs we saw along Route 17/Interstate 86, for a time, were in both English and in the language of the Seneca.

Check out the timeline of the dispute between the Indian tribe and the federal and state governments. A key turning point is described here:

“In the 1990s, the Senecas won a prolonged court battle to assume ownership of all land on their reservation, including that owned by private non-Seneca. (This was particularly contentious in Salamanca, where non-Native landownership had been tolerated for decades. State and local officials said that this is the only United States city located on Indian reservation land; under the recognized law of the time, the underlying land remained Seneca owned, but “improvements” on that land were not subject to lease and were still privately owned.) The city had been developed under a 99-year federal lease arrangement with the Seneca Nation. It had provided land to railroads to encourage development, which the railroad developed for workers and their families, and related businesses. This arrangement was confirmed by acts of Congress in 1875, 1890 and 1990.”

The Seneca became exempt from taxes on their lands, notably the money from their successful casinos, but it’s all remained a negotiation. Back in 2011, it was a highway fight over who was responsible for repairs. In 2013, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced an agreement between New York State and the Seneca Nation of Indians “that resolved a multi-year dispute between the State and the Nation.”

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“The State of New York recognizes and reconfirms the exclusivity of Seneca casino operations in the Western New York region, and the Seneca Nation agrees to resume payments and to make pro-rated repayments for past amounts that were in dispute.”

On the return trip, when we took a more northerly route, off the major highway, the signs were more interesting. These purple road signs implore people to drive carefully but have a more folksy feel than your usual directives. More than one said “Drive safely for our children. Drive safely for our elders.” This one is the only one I could find a visual for online, alas.

Here’s a factoid for you: Although the population is small – 8,000 enrolled members – the Seneca Nation has become the fifth-largest public employer in Western New York.

Not a drop to drink: Columbus/indigenous people day 2015

If it weren’t for Darlene Arviso, the “Water Lady”, there would be no potable water for these folks.

arviso_water4editIn the “THAT won’t happen” department: US should return stolen land to Indian tribes, says United Nations.

OK, so what does the US do? It needs to address some basic inequity. This is embarrassing and uncivilized:

It’s easy to miss this corner of the Navajo Nation, just 100 miles west of Albuquerque. Most things pass the Reservation right by, including progress.
Many of the roads here are unpaved. Electricity is spotty. Unemployment in the area hovers near 70 percent.
But perhaps most shocking of all? An estimated 40 percent of the people who live here don’t have access to running water.

If it weren’t for Darlene Arviso, the “Water Lady”, there would be no potable water for these folks. It’s good that DigDeep, a 501c3, has been organized to “change the lives of American families without water” through the Navajo Water Project. Although, as the story makes clear, it was the Navajo’s lack of political access – they weren’t allowed to vote for years – plus the uranium mining, that has put the people in such dire straits.

Still, the US government SHOULD be taking care of its own, making a merely small dent in the reparations due. I’m certain there are stories like this all over the country.

Presidents Day 2015

Q: Has the gun with which Oswald shot President Kennedy been returned to the family?

President Calvin Coolidge was designated Chief Leading Eagle of the Sioux tribe when he was adopted as the first white chief of the tribe at the celebration of the 51st anniversary of the settlement of Deadwood, South Dakota, August 9, 1927. This designation came as a result of Coolidge signing the Indian Citizen Act on June 2, 1924, which granted “full U.S. citizenship to America’s indigenous peoples.”

The bill happened in part as a result of World War I when “The Indian, though a man without a country…, threw himself into the struggle to help throttle the unthinkable tyranny of the Hun.”

I was unfamiliar with this picture until I saw it on the news around Christmas 2014, when it mentioned the risk of Chief Executives wearing things on their heads other than hats, and cited the headdress that the current President was wearing recently, pictured below.
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Speaking of World War I, from Now I Know:

One of the more positive aspects of American presidential politics is the relatively orderly, entirely peaceful succession process. Every four years, on the Tuesday after the first Monday of November, voters across the nation go to the polls and cast their ballots. Those votes are translated into votes for… electors, and a few weeks later, those electors cast the votes which actually determine who is going to be inaugurated into the office of the President… Even though the campaign can be acrimonious, to date at least, no sitting president has ever attempted to disrupt this process.

But there was, almost, an exception. In 1916, incumbent President Woodrow Wilson faced a challenge from Republican Charles Evans Hughes…

Which US presidents have won the Nobel Peace Prize?

Secretaries of State who became President:

Thomas Jefferson (3) under George Washington (1)
James Madison (4) under Jefferson (3)
James Monroe (5) under Madison (4)
John Quincy Adams (6) under Monroe (5)
Martin Van Buren (8) under Andrew Jackson (7)
James Buchanan (15) under James K. Polk (11)

And none since unless Hillary gets elected President.

From The Weird, Embarrassing, Fascinating Things People Asked Librarians Before the Internet:
Q: Has the gun with which Oswald shot President Kennedy been returned to the family?
A: No. It’s at the National Archives and Records Administration building in College Park, Maryland.

Lyndon Johnson was a civil rights hero. But also a racist.
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I’ve wondered why Bill Clinton, only the second President in American history to be impeached, got to be so popular by the end of his second term. I think Dan Savage of Savage Love hit upon it:

Here’s the takeaway from the Bill and Monica story: An out-of-control special prosecutor appointed to investigate the suicide of a White House aide wound up “exposing” a series of [sex acts] that President Bill Clinton got from a White House intern. Problematic power differential, yes, but consenting adults just the same. Politicians and pundits and editorial boards called on Clinton to resign after the affair was made public, because the American people, they insisted, had lost all respect for Clinton. He couldn’t possibly govern after the [detailed sex acts], and the denials (“I did not have sexual relations with that woman”). Clinton refused to resign and wound up getting impeached by an out-of-control GOP-controlled Congress…

But guess what? The American people weren’t [ticked] at Clinton. Clinton’s approval ratings shot up. People looked at what was being done to Clinton — a special prosecutor with subpoena powers and an unlimited budget asking Clinton under oath about his sex life—and thought, “…I would hate to have my privacy invaded like that.” People’s sympathies were with Clinton, not with the special prosecutor, not with the GOP-controlled/out-of-control Congress.

Presidential Libraries and Museums for every President from Herbert Hoover through George W. Bush

Handsome Franklin Pierce by Nik Durga

Behind the Presidents: at Mount Rushmore

The youngest Presidents: 26, 35, 42, 18, 44, 22, 14, 20, 11, 13
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Lots of different “worst” lists:

Indian-Killer Andrew Jackson Deserves Top Spot on List of Worst U.S. Presidents

10 reasons why Ronald Reagan was the worst president of our lifetime

The Worst Presidents, which includes all the Presidents between #9 and #18, except #11 and #16; plus three 20th century picks

obama-tiara-wh-photo

Goodbye, Columbus?

jackson20Goodbye, Columbus – was that a Philip Roth novel or a song by the Association (#80 in 1969)? Ah, my annual ambivalence about Columbus Day.

This is related: did you ever wonder why Hispanic Heritage Month runs from mid-September to mid-October?

The reason why September 15 was chosen as the official start of the month was it is the anniversary of independence of a number of Latin American countries…

The 30-day celebration acknowledges the huge impact the Latino community has had on shaping the United States into the country it is today. From Christopher Columbus’ first contact with the indigenous peoples of the Americas in 1492, to the Spanish colonies of the West to the fortress of St. Augustine, Florida — the oldest continuous European settlement in North America – founded in 1565, decades before Jamestown, Virginia.

Hispanics have been in this country longer than anyone beside Native Americans.

I’ve written before that while Columbus’ voyages started a chain of events that were often obviously terrible for American Indians, slapping ALL the blame on him individually seems unmeasured. Though, if the Seattle School Board wants to observe ‘Indigenous Peoples’ Day’ on the Columbus holiday, that’s fine by me.

On the other hand, if you wanted to dump Andrew Jackson from the $20, I could definitely go for that. An ad for a book I have not read – An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States, by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz:

[She] adroitly challenges the founding myth of the United States and shows how policy against the Indigenous peoples was colonialist and designed to seize the territories of the original inhabitants, displacing or eliminating them. And as Dunbar-Ortiz reveals, this policy was praised in popular culture, through writers like James Fenimore Cooper and Walt Whitman, and in the highest offices of government and the military. Shockingly, as the genocidal policy reached its zenith under President Andrew Jackson, its ruthlessness was best articulated by US Army general Thomas S. Jesup, who, in 1836, wrote of the Seminoles: “The country can be rid of them only by exterminating them.

He is arguably the most shameful American.

I do like this:
From Etsy’s Bold Statement – No More Redsk*ns powwows: “Another small victory for the Change the Mascot movement. Effective immediately Etsy will no longer allow any item to be sold via their website that includes the Washington NFL team’s logo or the term Redsk*ns.”

A down payment at least: U.S. To Pay Navajo Nation $554 Million in Largest Single Tribe Settlement in History.

This is an ad about indigenous Australians, but the sentiments are applicable much more widely.