On lands owned by cranberry giant A.D. Makepeace in Plymouth County, over a dozen large scale industrial solar projects have been signed off on by the Massachusetts Historical Commission without proper consultation and effectively behind closed doors.
A.D. Makepeace Company is the largest private property owner in eastern Massachusetts.
Southeastern Massachusetts is “ground zero” for colonization as the Herring Pond Wampanoag Tribe of Plymouth explains. The Wampanoag Nation never ceded this land by treaty or sale. It remains their ancestral homeland. Today, just over 400 years since the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock (according to myth), Indigenous people and allies are raising awareness in Plymouth and surrounding communities to stop reckless development that is destroying this Earth and with it Indigenous history and culture.
At the Massachusetts state-wide rally Honor the Earth on July 31, 2021, Indigenous people and allies came together in a powerful way to raise awareness about this destruction. Herring Pond Wampanoag Tribe President Melissa Ferretti (video) and Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Council Member and Tribal Historic Preservation Officer (THPO) David Weeden (video) informed and inspired the crowd with their powerful words.
Sand mining and large ground mounted solar projects subsidized by Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker under a “renewable energy” program is responsible for most of this destruction. With open space and small towns unequipped to deal with unscrupulous and politically connected developers, Southeastern Massachusetts not only ground zero for colonization but also for ground-mounted solar and sand mining. This is worse than a forest clear-cut: it obliterates trees, stumps, vegetation, soils and up to 30,000 years of Indigenous history that is one with the earth. It leaves the land unfit for use in human time.
A colonial system of state laws written and administered by colonists to preserve colonial history provides a thin veneer of cover for developers to destroy Indigenous history and culture in Massachusetts. The Massachusetts Historical Commission, the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act (MEPA) office and other state bureaucracies routinely and unilaterally declare that Native American cultural sites set to be destroyed have “no significant research value.”
On lands owned by cranberry giant AD Makepeace in Plymouth County, over a dozen large scale industrial solar projects have been signed off on by MHC without proper consultation and effectively behind closed doors. At the archeologically significant Swan Hold Native American site in Carver, Massachusetts AD Makepeace Company and others have strip mined for sand for decades destroying the site, and today an industrial solar project is destroying the last vestige of what remains. In 2016, Massachusetts subsidized and approved the complete desecration of King Philiip’s Cave in East Freetown for a Borrego Solar project.
In August 2021, a cultural site in Hopkinton was destroyed by Grasshopper Solar. Dozens more Native American sites are targeted for destruction under the ruse of the state’s “renewable energy” program: projects are in the approval process in Rochester, Wareham and Northfield.
Governor Baker espouses “climate justice” and MEPA is re-writing its “environmental justice policy.” Unless and until Massachusetts fully recognizes the flawed structure embedded in the MHC and MEPA regulatory approvals, this will continue to be nothing but window dressing.
In early 2021, groups and individuals came together across Southeastern Massachusetts to fight this destruction as the Community Land & Water Coalition. Across the world, Indigenous values about the earth are guide stars for a livable planet for future generations. It’s time Massachusetts’ political leaders joined the vanguard instead of perpetuating environmental racism.
Join our effort and get in touch at www.savethepinebarrens.org
YouTube Channel: Community Land & Water Coalition
About the Author: Meg Sheehan is a public interest environmental attorney and activist from Plymouth, Massachusetts. She helped organized the Community Land and Water Coalition and Save the Pine Barrens as well as many other initiatives over the last 40 years. She is passionate about the Pine Barrens and its environmental and cultural heritage.