The Commonwealth is Back Big Time with New Proposed Legislation

And they are here to play the game with their rules, on their court. By changing the laws that protect Indigenous sites so that they never lose to the public again.

My notes from two recent phone conversations:

LEGISLATIVE BILL H.3982 WAS INTRODUCED TO FORM A “SPECIAL COMMISSION” WHICH WILL FORMALLY RECOMMEND CHANGES TO ALL COMMONWEALTH LAWS IN REGARD TO INDIGENOUS DISCOVERIES, PUBLIC DISCLOSURE, AND STATE OWNERSHIP OF ARTIFACTS 

14 PERSON COMMISSION WILL BE APPOINTED ENTIRELY BY POLITICIANS 

COMMISSION TO BE EXEMPT FROM MA OPEN MEETING LAW, ENTIRELY BEHIND CLOSED DOORS 

BILL DOES NOT GUARANTEE APPOINTMENT OF ANY PERSON OF NATIVE AMERICAN DESCENT

IT WILL BE THE MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL COMMISSION AND THEIR POLITICAL AFFILIATES – AS WAS PREVIOUSLY ATTEMPTED LAST TIME BILL WAS INTRODUCED – THEY PROPOSED ONE SINGLE NATIVE COMMITTEE MEMBER (!!)

COMMISSION TO FILE A NON-PUBLIC REPORT WITH THE STATE LEGISLATURE NO LATER THAN NOVEMBER 1, 2022, RECOMMENDING THE CHANGES TO LAWS – REPORT WILL BE USED TO JUSTIFY CHANGES

BILL WAS ATTEMPTED PREVIOUSLY IN 2014 AND CAUSED AN UPROAR – IT WAS PROPOSED THAT THE COMMONWEALTH WOULD OWN ALL ARTIFACTS DISCOVERED EVEN ON PRIVATE PROPERTY 

BY ACHIEVING  FULL LEGAL OWNERSHIP BY THE STATE, IT ACCOMPLISHES THE COMMONWEALTH’S GOAL OF NOT HAVING TO REPORT INDIGENOUS SITE AND ARTIFACT DISCOVERIES TO THE PUBLIC AT ALL – THIS IS THE DANGEROUS SECRET PLAY TAKING PLACE

IF THIS PROCEEDS WE WILL NO LONGER HAVE LEGAL RECOURSE IN STATE COURTS TO PROTECT SITES LIKE NORTHAMPTON’S 10,000-YEAR-OLD VILLAGE – WE WON’T EVEN KNOW ABOUT THEM

THE COMMONWEALTH IS CHANGING THE LAW TO MAKE SURE THE  PUBLIC NEVER HAS THE CHANCE TO STAND UP AGAIN – AND THAT FEDERAL FUNDS WILL NEVER BE OBSTRUCTED BY THE DISCOVERY OF INDIGENOUS SITES AND REMAINS AGAIN

Do you think this is an overreaction? I spoke to two people at length who fought against this bill when it was first moving through the legislature in 2014. There is a long history that nobody is sharing with the public. 

They sent me THIS SHOCKING ARTICLE.

If you did not read the end of that article, please do. The Commonwealth’s intent with this bill becomes clear. 

At that time, legislators proposed that only ONE SINGLE PERSON of Native American descent would be on the 14-person commission to formally recommend all changes to laws in regard to Indigenous sites and artifacts in the Commonwealth. 

Per the article, the Narragansett tribe voiced serious concerns about exactly this in 2014. 

I spoke to John Brown, Chief Tribal Preservation Officer of the Narragansett, and he said he had not been made aware that the bill was reintroduced. No consultation.

Mark Andrews of the Aquinnah Wampanoag – same thing. 

The bill was reintroduced by freshman Rep. Daniel Carey of Easthampton, MA. I reached out to Rep. Carey twice in the past month, specifically requesting that he set up a call with the Narragansett and the Aquinnah Wampanoag to understand these serious issues that were on the table. I asked for comment for this 55,000-person mailing list.

Radio silence.

Meanwhile, online, we see that the bill has already visited both the House and the Senate. 

A plan is being quietly executed to change the law and it is coming from political forces in Boston with much to gain – the same folks behind our only-for-show Massachusetts Historical Commission that has the worst record of all state historical commissions in the country regarding treatment of Indigenous sites (Moore and Weiss, Ohio Journal of Archaeology, 2016). 

Obviously, this is about money. Federal dollars that must flow in regardless of the federal laws that protect Indigenous sites. For many in Boston, there is nothing more important than securing federal monies.

If, for example, the Narragansett and Aquinnah Wampanoag are not even aware, two of the strongest Native preservation teams in Massachusetts, then, who is involved? 

The answer is: the state’s ‘usual suspects’ of collaborators. Might look good at first, they check all the boxes, but, these folks are all working for the state somehow, or are expecting something in return. Believe me, I saw this while trying to save the site in Northampton. It was shameful.

Don’t be fooled. If these politicians don’t have the largest federally recognized tribes involved in updating the laws – what could be more important for the long term – it’s a political scam.

I’ll provide more information as it becomes available. 

** ACTION ITEM **

We have created a brand-new email list, called Nayyag Preserve.

On this list, we will continue to provide updates on the 10,000-year-old site in Northampton, similar sites in grave danger, and also this new bill.

If you want to continue receiving email updates, it is critical that you sign up HERE at nayyag.org.

With our 55,000-person strong email list of supporters – and we know the power of that already from our last win together – by working with certain interested tribes, we can stop this just like we stopped the imminent destruction in Northampton. 

This information was originally sent to my MoveOn.org petition mailing list in regards to saving the site in Northampton, MA

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