Indian Affairs Committee Annual Reports
The text of recently received Annual Reports are below, with the most recently received at the top and older reports below. To jump to a particular report, simply click the year listed below.
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2016 was a year of exploration and learning for our committee members. We learned about Indigenous history and local Native people today with (1) a trip to Carlisle, PA; (2) A visit to the National Museum of the American Indian, and; (3) a presentation by staff of Living the American Experience, an education program run by members of the Cedarville Band of Piscataway Indians. All of these opportunities are available to others in the Baltimore Yearly Meeting community. We encourage others to learn about Native peoples, particularly those in whose homelands we now live. Share the message: Native peoples are Still Here! We also revised factsheets on tribes in each state in our region, with the welcome news that the Pamunkey Indian Tribe (VA) achieved federal recognition, after a long process. Most of this report is intentionally different than past reports. We are including some of the context of our group’s experiences, to help share the deep spiritual meaning of these learning experiences. We are also sharing photographs as part of our documentation. After all, this is the 21st century!
We ventured to Carlisle, PA, in October 2015, learning of the American Indian boarding school that was located there from 1889 to 1919. Our guides were Sandi Cianciulli (Oglala Lakota) and Maryann Robins (Onondaga), Executive Director and President, respectively, of the Circle Legacy, a nonprofit organization that is trying to preserve one of the buildings used for training Indian students. We saw the jail cells where students were punished, as well as the well-preserved gym where Jim Thorpe trained. He and his mentor, “Pop” Warner, are respected contributors to the school. Also respected, though less celebrated, are the graves—some marked, some not—of the children who died so far from their homelands and families. We learned that the Indian students were “outed” or sent to board with farm families for summers or other periods of time. Some of these families were likely Quakers. No specifics were known about these families, though usually Indian boarders were unpaid laborers.
While our guides did not dwell on the traumas that Indian boarding schools caused, they solemnly shared them. The Carlisle School, a model of its time, was initially led by Richard Henry Pratt, who is notorious for his phrase, “Kill the Indian, save the man,” as his style of education. His intention was that assimilation of Indigenous children would help them succeed in the majority culture; though his means of achieving that was to extirpate their traditional cultures and traditions. The traumas that Indian boarding schools caused continue to haunt many Native peoples today. Sandi also mentioned that boarding schools presented Native children with opportunities to meet children from other tribes and Native traditions, so there was inter-tribal communication and connection, albeit nondiscretionary. Though there are stil active Indian boarding schools, they are now operated by tribes; religious and other boarding schools are not mandatory.
Some members of the committee gathered at the National Museum of the American Indian to visit the Indian Treaties exhibit. We were honored to see one of the William Penn treaties there. Treating with the Indian is enshrined in the U.S. Constitution, and some treaties pre-date that document. In the 1800s, though federal agents used diverse means to convince or compel Natives to sign treaties. Committee members saw a treaty signed with X’s, implying the Native signatories could not read what they were signing. Government translators sometimes intentionally mis-translated documents, too.
A “joyful noise” was heard during our winter interim meeting, when we were honored by the presence of Natalie Standingontherock Proctor, tribal chair of the Cedarville Band of Piscataway Indians; her daughter Cryz Nkechehosi Proctor, Executive Producer of Living the American Experience programming; and Amanda Dagle, Academic Program Manager of Living the American Indian Experience. Since Interim Meeting was held at Langley Hill, Natalie and Cryz graciously welcomed us to their lands with a song of welcome. They shared information about their mobile museum, “Living the American Indian Experience (LAIE), that brings their cultural traditions to local schools and organizations.
In April, under the leadership of Nancy McIntyre, our committee sponsored a talk at Friends House by Paula Palmer (Boulder Friends Meeting). Sue Marcus and Pat Powers were asked to read portions of a script that Paula uses for lectures on facing our history. The National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition has asked churches to join in a Truth and Reconciliation process to bring about healing for Native families that continue to suffer the consequences of the Indian boarding schools. With fellowships from Pendle Hill and Friends Historical Library, Paula has researched the role that Friends played in implementing the federal government's policy of forced assimilation of Native children. She has been researching Quaker Indian boarding schools in New York, Ohio, Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas, and Indian Territory (Oklahoma), and poses the query: Knowing what we know now about the impacts of forced assimilation, what does this history mean for Friends today?
Previously, Paula coordinated a number of “Towards Right Relationship” participatory workshops in our area, the first with the assistance of Dellie James. Paula has given the workshop “Roots of Injustice, Seeds of Change: Toward Right Relationship with America’s Native Peoples,” more than 70 times in 15 states, in churches (Quaker, Unitarian Universalist, Lutheran, Methodist, Episcopal, Catholic), with interfaith organizations (Washington Inter-religious Staff Community in DC and U.N.-affiliated churches in New York City), and at colleges and universities. Our committee has given modest contributions to further this project.
Individually and in small groups, committee members follow leadings in ways to learn about and support Native peoples. Dellie James is the first non-Native on the Board of Directors of the Baltimore Indian Center. Eric Carlson hosted a fundraiser for Amnesty International’s support for Leonard Peltier. Sue Marcus continues working with the Society of American Indian Government Employees (SAIGE). Pat Powers and Martha Catlin have been revising the Indian affairs committee’s history. Pat and Sue attended a session on tribal sovereignty presented by the Maryland Indian Commission, with Native panelists from the southern mid-Atlantic region.
Members of the committee in 2016 included Susan "Sue" Marcus, Clerk (Alexandria); Eric Carlson (Goose Creek); Martha Claire Catlin (Alexandria); Sara Horsfall (Patapsco); Dellie James (Baltimore Monthly Meeting, Stony Run); Kit Mason (Adelphi); Jana McIntyre (Sandy Spring); Nancy McIntyre (Sandy Spring); Gerald "Jerry" Miller (Dunnings Creek); Rebecca "Rep" Pickard (Gunpowder); Catherine "Cathy" Schairer (Sandy Spring); and Roger Wolcott (Sandy Spring).
EDUCATION. The Indian Affairs Committee (IAC) has had an eventful year, learning and seeking to spread knowledge about Native peoples. For example, we updated the fact sheets about tribes and contemporary Indians in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. These are handed out to both Friends and non-Quakers at numerous events. They are available on our committee page on the BYM website. Ongoing committee projects include creating and preparing materials for religious education presentations and updating a compiled history of our committee which was started in 1795. When possible, we spread knowledge, understanding, and appreciation via Native speakers [Appendix A].
The intergenerational plenary at BYM’s 2014 Annual Session was designed to show that not only are American Indians part of today’s society but that they share values with Friends such as a concern for Mother Earth and a commitment to an harmonious way of living. Mark Tayac (Piscataway tribal member) and his son Naiche presented a program that illustrated the beauty, depth, and positivity of Indigenous culture. To a welcoming crowd of Friends, they shared aspects of American Indian beliefs, traditions, and history. Mark Tayac has a talent for conveying interesting information and debunking myths in a humorous way that reaches people of all ages. He interacted with the children through questions and answers (“What vegetables did Indians introduce into our diet?”; “How do we really drum compared to caricatures?”). His invitation to them to “join in” was responded to with enthusiasm and nearly universal participation.
While the program included audience engagement in authentic dances, it was not meant as “entertainment.” Tayac also spoke vigorously about the ongoing struggle for Indian rights and about silly or mean stereotypes that distort Indian identity. He did not mince words about the reasons why the Washington football team must change its name. After the session, adults said various concepts he explained were unknown to them such as “counting coup,” i.e., showing courage by touching rather killing an enemy. Several said it was the first time they had ever heard DIRECTLY from an Indian or about tribes in our region and they “appreciated the opportunity to do so.” One person mentioned learning “accurate facts.”
Among the comments on evaluation forms were these: “saw a connection between Quakers and Indians,” “gained an increased understanding of and appreciation for American Indian issues,” “a re-enforcement of the lasting importance of American Indian culture,” “better awareness of cross-cultural relations,” and “a welcome balancing viewpoint of ‘Manifest Destiny’ from the ‘conquered.’ I appreciated hearing of the continuity the Piscataway have managed and not hearing bitterness and blame.” This plenary experience contributed to transformation and healing, the 2014 Annual Session theme.
Also during the Annual Session, the IAC hosted E. Keith Colston (Tuscarora-Lumbee tribal member) who spoke at an interest session. He used a PowerPoint presentation to highlight tribal issues in our region. As the head of the Maryland Commission on Indian Affairs, he relished engaging in community outreach. In fact, the Commission’s 2014 Annual Report features a photo of Director Colson holding our committee’s tee-shirt and another with Dellie James. The accompanying article speaks positively about his interaction with the interest session attendees. The write-up also includes details about historic connections between Quakers and Native Americans, going back to 1799.
The IAC provided a comprehensive set of informational materials. The huge table-top display of books, articles, and maps attracted the attention of scores upon scores of Friends and stimulated many conversations. A number of people shared their experience with Native peoples and tribes around the U.S.
IMPORTANCE OF FOCUS ON INDIGENOUS AT ANNUAL SESSION
While in recent decades Friends have endeavored correctly to confront LGBT prejudice, racism, white privilege, and the lack of diversity, we have spent concomitantly less time considering issues of paternalism, preconceptions, bias, and ignorance in regard to Native Americans. We seldom think about Friends’ testimonies in this context. Paradoxically, we have also failed to (a) recognize positive partnerships between Quaker organizations and tribal organizations and (b) celebrate the abundant strengths of Indian leaders and eternal values of Indigenous culture and spirituality that can enrich our Meetings.
Year after year, our committee has held workshops and interest groups to highlight the resiliency of and success by Native groups despite severe poverty and to highlight the message that Indigenous people are still here, not only nationally but in our region. Sadly, we have also had to discuss ongoing federal-Indian policies that have whipsawed Native peoples and their governments since European colonization, leading to the current circumstances of some tribes extirpated, some without federal or state recognition of their sovereignty, and some desperately trying to preserve their sacred sites. While few Friends will become experts on sovereignty and on Nation- to-Nation relationships, it fills us with joy that young people at Annual Session had the opportunity to enjoy some face-to-face interaction and to consider some serious realities.
Presenter Mark Tayac suggested how understanding by non-Natives is part of a healing process. Taking healing a step further, young Friends raised money for a commendable Mennonite undertaking. The Return to the Earth project supports Indigenous Americans in burying unidentifiable ancestral remains. These skulls and other remains were collected by the U.S. government for display at museums or for scientific research during colonization. Helping to provide burial boxes and cloths for the remains is one way people of faith can show respect. It is also a way for non-Indigenous people to offer an apology for a history of silence and even collusion in historical wrongs done to Indigenous Americans. Ellen Arginteanu assisted the teens in creating a poster that showed how many remains are estimated to be unburied in each state. She also made possible the plenary through her leadership on the planning committee. Nancy McIntyre of our committee was the original instigator of the idea that Friends should go beyond talking about William Penn by familiarizing themselves with contemporary Native people.
ADVOCACY AND MINUTES. IAC members have been led to ask BYM to adopt a Minute calling for the release of Leonard Peltier (Ojibwe/Lakota), and we are prayerfully hoping for its adoption. He was convicted, many believe unjustly in an unfair trial, of the murder of two FBI agents during the 1975 Wounded Knee struggle on Pine Ridge Reservation. Now 70 years old, Peltier has served nearly 40 years, despite a world-wide campaign to free him. As far back as 1998, Homewood and Stoney Run monthly meetings called for his release as a prisoner of conscience. The objective now is to push for executive clemency from President Obama. Peltier’s next parole hearing is set for July 2024, over a decade from today. Without parole or Presidential clemency, Peltier won’t be released until 2040. Friends have a long standing concern about prisons and lengthy incarceration. We are asking BYM to support Peltier’s release on humanitarian grounds. He is ill and held in a federal prison in Florida that is far away from his family. Amnesty International and the National Congress of American Indians are championing the cause.
We continue our work to oppose demeaning sports names and mascots. The Minute embraced by BYM at the June 2014 Interim session has been disseminated [Appendix B]. Sandy Spring Friends School Upper School government, known as “Torch,” was recognized by the IAC for forbidding the use or display of the offensive name of the Washington, D.C. football team on the school’s campus. Since the students had been disparaged by team fans and by people who value the right to free speech over civil rights, we wanted to honor their integrity. A plaque was presented to the Torch leadership by members of our committee at a school assembly in March 2015. We also prepared a handout geared to staff and parents about the importance of the students’ action [Appendix C].
Specific Issues: Topical issues involving tribes within the Baltimore Yearly Meeting region include:
- The Pamunkey Tribe which is seeking federal recognition through the Bureau of Indian Affairs process. The IAC has tried to reach out to the tribe to see how we may support their application; our contacts have been through the tribe’s attorneys. Though appreciative of our concern, the tribe has requested that no actions be taken on their behalf.
- The U.S. Senators from Virginia have introduced a bill, in several sessions, to recognize the Chickahominy, the Eastern Chickahominy, the Upper Mattaponi, the Rappahannock, the Monacan and the Nansemond tribes. The bill, titles the “Thomasina E. Jordan Indian Tribes of Virginia Federal Recognition Act of 2015” continues to face opposition from people who Congressional recognition of Indian tribal sovereignty.
COMMITTEE MEMBERS. Eric Carlson (Goose Creek), Martha Catlin (Woodlawn), Nancy Coleman (Dunnings Creek), Dellie James (Stony Run), Kit Mason (Adelphi), Jana and Nancy McIntyre (Sandy Spring), Sue Marcus (Woodlawn), Jerry Miller (Dunnings Creek), Rebecca “Rep” Pickard (Homewood), Patricia Powers (Sandy Spring), Cathy Schairer (Sandy Spring), and Roger Wolcott (Sandy Spring) serve on the committee. Sara Horsfall (Patuxent) is a recent and welcome activity participant.
Field Trip: We continually educate ourselves. A May 2015 field trip to the National Museum of the American Indian provided a chance for IAC members to learn about the changing federal policies regarding federal treaties with tribes. We were honored to see William Penn’s treaty with the Indian prominently included, and we viewed two treaty belts presented to him.
SERVICE AND PARTICIPATION. All members bring special gifts and reasons for being part of our committee. The following activities are representative of those diverse leadings. Nancy submits quizzes about Native Americans for the daily bulletin at Annual Session to increase interest. Jana (Apache) and Nancy continue to interact with Jana’s tribe and relatives out west. Kit headed the successful effort to have BYM adopt a Minute to push a name change for the Washington professional football team. She also researched decades of archives to document part of our committee’s history. Rep is heading the effort to have BYM adopt a Minute to release Leonard Peltier. Martha is conducting extensive research about historic interactions between Friends and Indians. Kit and Roger were part of the presentation to Sandy Spring Friends School. Eric combines Indigenous concerns with his Amnesty International concerns in a practical way and urges his Meeting to make education, action and financial commitments. He urges development of simple First Day School lessons on Friends and Indians.
Several members are deeply involved in Indian organizations and help us network with Indian Country. Dellie James serves on the Baltimore American Indian Center Museum’s board of directors. She is the first non-Native to be asked to do so-- a significant honor—and is the Vice Chairperson. Dellie volunteers weekly as a docent at the BAIC and participates in many activities such as the annual pow-wow. She also helps lead the Stony Run and Homewood Indian committee. (Of separate interest, Dellie is a massage therapist and volunteers at the Healing Center at Annual Session.)
Sue assists the Society of American Indian Government Employees with its annual training program. SAIGE is a small national non-profit with dual roles: (1) providing a network for AI/AN employees, so they feel less alone if they are the only Indigenous person in their office, and 2) teaching all federal employees that there are unique laws and rights for Indigenous peoples and their governments. Sue pursues sponsors for SAIGE, as well as participating in some strategic planning sessions. American Indian and Alaska Native friends and contacts inform her of grassroots views and provide timely information on legal and other topics. Sue compiles news and issues each month for a “Native Notes” summary that is distributed to the IAC members.
Pat attended the MD Native American Heritage Month event in Pomfret (and visited Piscataway Park) and the BAIC Christmas party. She went to presentations on appropriate places of repose for Indian remains currently in museums, truth and reconciliation regarding Indian children taken in the past from their families, and violence against women legislation. She was invited to an event where Friends Committee on National Legislation was given an award by Americans for Indian Opportunity. She communicated with Robert McCartney of the Washington Post about regional Indian issues.
DONATIONS. Monies from the historic fund were disbursed to the American Indian Society ($200), Baltimore Indian Center ($200), Friends Committee on National Legislations (specifically for Indian issues, $200), and Paula Palmer of Boulder Meeting (Quaker-Indian research project; $200).
APPENDIX A (Native American Presenters at Annual Session)
MARK TAYAC is the son of the hereditary Chief of the Piscataway tribe in Maryland, Billy Tayac. He is the uncle of historian Gabrielle Tayac who gave a talk last year sponsored by BYMIAC. He founded the Tayac Territory Singers and Dancers which has performed in diverse settings, from the Kennedy Center to universities, and in Europe and Canada. Mark, and his son Naiche, gave a well-received educational presentation at Sandy Spring Meeting several years ago for Earth Day. He also participated in the BYM Indian Affairs Committee’s 200th anniversary celebration. He resides in Port Tobacco, MD.
NAICHE TAYAC is expected to become chief of the Piscataway Indian Nation in the future, following his father. (The Piscataway Nation has existed for 10,000 years.) He was the subject of a 2002 children’s book entitled Meet Naiche: A Native Boy from the Chesapeake Bay Area. Sold at the National Museum of the American Indian, it has been purchased by individual Quakers and Friends Meetings for First Day School. He has participated in climate change protests in D.C.
KEITH COLSTON is the administrative director of the Maryland Commission on Indian Affairs. He also serves as a Master of Ceremonies for pow-wows with the explicit purpose of providing cultural education to the public. In 2009, he won the Baltimore Community Leadership Award. He grew up in Fayetteville, NC. His family is part of the Tuscarora band that remained in North Carolina during the 18th century. The Lumbee are the largest tribe in North Carolina and many Lumbees live in Baltimore.
APPENDIX B (Quaker Statement Urging a Change in Name)
The National Football League’s published mission and values include these statements:
- We create an organization that represents, supports and celebrates diversity, while also embracing our shared interests.
- We represent and respect a wide range of human differences, personal experiences and cultural backgrounds for the benefit of the organization and our employees as individuals.
- We recognize that the NFL's traditions are an asset, but we also embrace change.
- We balance the need to change with the utmost respect for what has been accomplished.
- We are thoughtful and deliberate in our thinking, and always consider the long-term consequences of our decisions.
The NFL Rule Book, Section 3, also prohibits “using abusive, threatening or insulting language” and “using baiting or taunting acts or words that engender ill will.” But the NFL has violated its core principles for decades by allowing the team playing in Washington, D.C., to carry the name ‘redskins,’ a racist epithet that insults millions of Native Americans. Continued use of the term encourages and perpetuates persecution, disrespect, and bigotry against Native men, women, and children. This one word has encouraged the performance of demeaning, racist halftime theatrics. Whether the performance is idealized or comical, reducing human beings to mere mascots — team toys — is itself belittling, inviting and allowing disrespect to Native peoples and their cultures. The image featured on the team logo fosters stereotyping that denies and misrepresents the culture and life of the many tribes of Native Americans. Moreover, both players and team employees are also harmed and dehumanized by being forced to use a racist term as the team name; this continues to violate the fundamental principles of integrity and respect embodied in the NFL rules.
For more than 200 years the Baltimore Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) has sought to support the concerns of Native Americans. We unite with the efforts of all who have called for the name of the Washington, D.C. football team to be changed. We call upon team owner Daniel Snyder, team president and general manager Bruce Allen, National Football League commissioner Roger S. Goodell, the National Football League Management Council, and the National Football League Players Association to change the name of the team to one that does not demean or misrepresent anyone's ethnicity or culture, and to create a team logo that upholds the values that the NFL has said it supports.
APPENDIX C (Commending Sandy Spring Friends School for Banning R Word)
In recognition of the ethical stand it took to respect the dignity and wishes of American Indians by forbidding slurs in the form of a disparaging sports team name to appear or to be used on campus. Torch leaders exhibited initiative, resolution, and valor as they sought to actualize the school motto “let your lives speak.”
Part of The Statement Of Appreciation In Conjunction With A Plaque Presentation, April 2015
The Baltimore Yearly Meeting Indian Affairs Committee commends the Sandy Spring Friends School community for its consciousness-raising effort to stop the unthinking and casual use of the “R” word. While we would praise any student body that wholeheartedly listened to Indigenous peoples about their issues of concern, we are particularly pleased your school became involved since Friends have long believed that those who came to this continent should be in “right relationship” with those who already lived here. Quakers in this region formed our committee in 1795 to reach out to tribes for reasons of justice and friendship. Today, 220 years later, our committee urges non-Natives to educate themselves about the needs, strengths, and desires of contemporary Native Americans. Thank you for doing more than listening to the speakers from the National Congress of American Indians at your Martin Luther King Day assembly “From Selma to FedEx Field.” Thank you for caring and following through.
By instigating a practice of considering what language is used and what merchandise is worn on the Sandy Spring campus, you decided to quit going along with “things as they are.” You responded to appeals from Native American groups for respect and for allies. You discovered that although emotions run high about sports team names, mascots, and fan “traditions,” one can take a principled stand even if it will be controversial. You showed that young people can be role models for adults.
The Baltimore Yearly Meeting Indian Affairs Committee began our year in a thankful spirit, honoring the service of Pat Powers as she rotated out of the Committee's clerkship while remaining an active Committee member. New clerk Sue Marcus welcomes Pat's continuing guidance. We also honored the spiritual evolution of longtime Committee member Elizabeth Koopman, who resigned from the Committee this year yet continues her passionate leading on Native issues. She keeps us informed of international indigenous concerns and ongoing Doctrine of Discovery issues.
The Committee has been active this year on several projects. Having responsibility for an Annual Session plenary presentation has driven activities including updating fact sheets on the current status of Native peoples and Tribes in the BYM region and crafting a presentation that will be meaningful , consciousness-raising, and enjoyable for all ages at Annual Session.
Racism and the use of derogatory terms for sports team mascots has been a concern of the Committee as a whole, and as individuals, trying to bring the concern to our monthly meetings. Asking Quakers not to use racist team names and not to wear inappropriate logo clothing are small steps that together can make a difference. The Committee, led by Kit Mason, developed a Minute on this topic. We are pleased to report its approve at Interim Meeting.
Dellie James organized a workshop by Paula R. Palmer, of Boulder, Colorado Meeting on This Land Was Your Land: Seeking Right Relationship with America’s Native Peoples. Homewood and Stoney Run Meeting hosted this event.
Recently, Martha Catlin used her former career experience on the staff of the Advisory Council for Historic Preservation to guide a non-profit group that is seeking to preserve a farmhouse that was used as a school building that was part of the (in)famous Carlisle Indian School in Pennsylvania.
The Committee rejoices in our consciousness-raising within and beyond the Quaker faith community. We seek to bring awareness of indigenous issues and equality in continuance of the purpose of the committee since 1795.
For the Indian Affairs Committee, 2012-13 was a year of learning and sharing. Committee members continued their individual service and advocacy activities and shared their diverse passions related to Indigenous peoples with each other. Collectively, we were able to convince BYM to repudiate the “Doctrine of Discovery (Domination)” and express support for implementation of the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Since the theme of the 2012 Annual Session was “Spirit-Led Social Action,” making a statement of conscience at the request of Native leaders was most fitting.
The committee is comprised of Martha Catlin (Woodlawn), Nancy Coleman (Dunnings Creek), Dellie James (Stony Run), Elizabeth Koopman (York), Susan Lepper (Washington), Nancy McIntyre (Sandy Spring), Sue Marcus (Woodlawn), Jerry Miller (Dunnings Creek), Patricia Powers (Sandy Spring), and Roger Wolcott (Sandy Spring). We celebrate the life of member Jeff Leber (Dunnings Creek) who passed away during October 2012. We gratefully acknowledge Mary Corddry (Deer Creek) and Gerri Williams (Washington) who served on our committee in recent years. We enthusiastically welcome new members, and based on recent meetings, have hopes of adding new energies to our group. Although they cannot be formally appointed until August, Eric Carlson (Goose Creek), Kit Mason (Adelphi), and Cathy Schairer (Sandy Spring) have already begun contributing to the Committee's work. Dellie James provides deeply valued service as our recording clerk.
The Indian Affairs Committee is responsible for administering a diminishing “endowment” fund started in 1795. Small sums are distributed to Indian organizations, events, and projects. This year, donations were given to the American Indian Society of Washington, D.C.; the Baltimore American Indian Center in support of its new museum; and Ramah Navajo chapter projects. Jin-May Lee from New Mexico met with Clerk Pat Powers and former committee member Nora Caplan; she described and reported on the Ramah projects. Our committee can also make a major contribution where appropriate. A challenge to the committee is to plan for needs once those funds are fully distributed. We are beginning to consider how to generate new donations.
Outreach and Community Education
Over the past two years, Elizabeth Koopman led us in making connections with other Yearly Meetings and other Indian-supportive Quaker groups and Gerri Williams with the Meetings within our Yearly Meeting. Nancy Coleman has volunteered to reach out to BYM Meetings. We hope that working with other Quakers will strengthen our voice in support of Indigenous issues. A potential product of this coordination may be an article for Friends Journal on contemporary Quaker witness with Indigenous peoples.
In May, our committee co-sponsored a talk. Roger Wolcott and Nancy McIntyre arranged and hosted an educational session by Dr. Gabrielle Tayac at Friends House Retirement Community. The well attended program attracted people from Sandy Spring Friends School and a number of Friends Meetings. Tayac, who works at the National Museum of the American Indian, spoke about the history of her tribe, the Piscataway, who are native to the eastern parts of our area. She said that events in North America could have evolved in another way and mentioned Quakers as an example of an alternative type of relationship. In the process of promoting the talk, dozens of organizations and hundreds of individuals in Montgomery County, MD were reached and informed about Indians today. Nancy worked tirelessly and made valuable new contacts.
The fact sheets that Ellen Johnson Arginteanu, Sue Marcus, and Pat wrote about tribes and American Indians and Alaska Natives living today in PA, VA, and MD have proven useful. They are regularly given to interested individuals and are used to supplement presentations. We would like to develop pamphlets about sacred places, grave protection, and religious freedom concerns in the BYM region. Martha Catlin is heading that project. We also want a pamphlet on highlights of our committee’s notable history, which will probably include vignettes. Kit Mason and Martha are interested in that project. Eric Carlson wishes us to develop First Day School materials that focus on principles that guide the Quaker commitment to supporting the rights of tribes and Native Americans.
Our committee is grateful for the Yearly Meeting's approval on August 2, 2012 of a Minute renouncing the “Doctrine of Discovery” (see discussion of concept below). The Minute was given due consideration at the June Interim Meeting and revised. The Minute and extensive background material were drafted by our committee in concordance with those of other Meetings and organizations of faith. Discussing the issues has been a form of consciousness-raising for Friends who do not ordinarily think about our Quaker past in this context. Pat and Gerri lead a workshop called "Huge Social Action Success: Hallelujah." Pat prepared a booklet of news articles reporting recent state, national and international successful resolutions of Native issues. The booklet was distributed to session participants and to committee members. The workshop was well received, though not well attended. Nancy M created trivia questions that were published in the daily Annual Session newsletters.
Looking ahead to the 2014 Annual Session, Nancy M arranged with the program committee for us to arrange an interactive, multi-generational afternoon plenary session on American Indians. We expect to use Native leaders to speak and lead the experiential aspects of the program. At our June 15th meeting, Ellen Arginteanu from the program committee met with us for a brainstorming session. The theme for 2014 is healing, which is a natural one for us to integrate into our program.
PUBLIC POLICY. Since we are located close to the U.S. Capital and can lobby if need be, our committee monitors legislative developments. We also follow Supreme Court Cases. Kit provides us with detailed information about the progress of specific House and Senate bills. Our committee celebrates the federal renewal of the Violence Against Women Act which provides new means to solve dire criminal justice problems. Pat had encouraged committee members to contact their Congressional delegations in support of the revised law. For the first time tribes will have jurisdiction in domestic violence and protective order violation cases. Previously, Native American women who were abused on tribal lands by non-Natives had no legal recourse unless a U.S. prosecutor could be convinced to arrest them. The tribal courts could not try non-Natives. (Many people learned about this horrendous situation when they read the 2012 National Book Award winner Round House. by Louise Erdrich.)
We support giving federal recognition to six Virginia Tribes (Chickahominy, Eastern Chickahominy, Nansemond, Rappahannock, Upper Mattaponi, and Monacan Nation). Such recognition brings many benefits to tribal members, such as eligibility for academic scholarships or specific types of employment, and for tribal governments, such as zoning and self-determination. For the last several years, Sue has contacted the Congressional offices responsible for this legislation and informed our committee about how to support the passage of bills. We will renew our effort as the 113th Congress progresses.
WORKING WITH NATIVE NATIONS. Several years ago, the Piscataway tribe in Maryland contacted our committee with a request to proctor or assist in overseeing an upcoming tribal election. Dellie James, with support from the two Baltimore Meetings and our Committee, has been ready to assist the tribe. However, due to internal tribal issues, the election did not happen as planned and ultimately we did not help with the election after all.
Committee members support each other's leadings and disseminate shared news from our wide network of Indian Country contacts through our individual networks. For example, Sue is active with the Society of American Indian Government Employees.
Elizabeth has led our committee and larger Quaker bodies to renounce the Doctrine of Discovery (DOD), in part because Friends benefited from the way this ideological system was put into practice in Pennsylvania and elsewhere. The DOD concept is rooted in medieval papal edicts and directives of royal heads of state, confirmed by European conquest of Indigenous peoples, and eventually codified in legal decisions, including current legal precedents in the U.S. (Johnson v McIntosh case.) It is a collection of documents that give inherent entitlements to Christian conquering powers. Last year, the special theme of the U.N. Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues focused on the Doctrine of Discovery, its enduring impacts and the need for redress. The past few years have also seen renunciation of the DOD by churches and organizations as a way of “owning up” to the past and expressing respect today. Although symbolic, the renunciation and the apologies that customarily accompany that action are meaningful or healing to many Indigenous people. In September, we are arranging for Paula Palmer from Boulder Meeting to present two workshops on the topic in our area.
Elizabeth also tracks the implementation of the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and supports the Passamaquoddy people in Maine. Susan Lepper maintained her liaison role between our committee and Pat Kutzner in New Mexico but suggested that the BYM Torreon-Starlake Working Group is no longer needed. At business meeting at Interim Meeting on June 15, it was formally laid down.
BALTIMORE INDIAN CENTER. Dellie continues to coordinate with the Baltimore Indian Center on behalf of the joint Homewood-Stony Run Indian Committee. In April, she helped host a tour, and showing of the film, Red Cry, at the Baltimore Indian Center. Members of the Oglala Lakota Nation spent the night at Stony Run Meeting House and were provided meals. The visitors were sojourning to share their concerns about difficulties of life and governance on Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota. Elders and activists made a 13-city “Truth Tour” to draw attention to the situation of the Lakota, mobilize networks to benefit elders, and renew the traditional matriarchal leadership.
CULTURAL, SPIRITUAL, LEGAL ASPECTS OF NATIVE SACRED PLACES. Native sacred sites contribute to cultural identity. There are unique cultural definitions that may vary from tribe to tribe, or even person to person. Some places or cultural knowledge is reserved only for select individuals. Figuring out how to protect areas that non-Natives may not be privileged to know about is an on-going challenge. There are legal protections for federally recognized tribes and government agencies are supposed to do prior meaningful consultation with tribes about religious freedom, grave protection, respectful disposal of remains, and desecration of sacred areas and materials. Yet, there is little enforcement. Martha, with her lengthy experience in this field, is finalizing an information paper “Preserving the Sacred Patrimony of Native Peoples: A Government’s Unrealized Obligation” to help us understand these complex issues. After that, we will explore the implications for our region where there are only state recognized tribes.
STRUCTURAL CHANGES TO THE USUAL MAINSTREAM K-12 CURRICULA ON INDIGENOUS PEOPLES. Most public elementary and secondary schools teach nothing about contemporary tribes and Native peoples. The history of federal-tribal relations has not evolved from the positive evocation of Manifest Destiny, the "conquering" of the West, and other precepts that show the victory of people of European descent over the land and indigenous people of what became the U.S. Sue has felt led to seek changes in the K-12 curricula, to include contemporary Native peoples as well as past policies that continue to scar some of these people (boarding schools, language extinction). This remains a work in progress.
Submitted by Patricia Powers (Clerk) and Sue Marcus (Co-Clerk)
Members: Those serving have long histories of caring about Native concerns, addressing needs, and advocating for justice. They are Martha Catlin (Woodlawn), Mary Corddry (Deer Creek), Dellie James (Stony Run), Elizabeth Koopman (Gwynedd, Stony Run), Jeff Leber (Dunnings Creek), Susan Lepper (Washington), Sue Marcus (Woodlawn), Nancy McIntyre (Sandy Spring), Jerry Miller (Dunnings Creek), Patricia Powers (Sandy Spring), Gerri Williams (Washington), and Roger Wolcott (Sandy Spring).
Contributions Administering an “endowment” fund is one committee responsibility. In 1795, Quakers in the northern Shenandoah Valley established a fund to pay Indians for land that Quakers settled. Unable to locate survivors of the Natives who previously lived in the Valley, these Friends set aside those monies for assistance of American Indians. Approximately $11,000 remains and small sums are distributed to Indian organizations, events, and projects. This year, donations of $200 each were given to the American Indian Society of Washington, D.C.; the Baltimore American Indian Center in support of its new museum; Ramah Navaho chapter projects, and Torreon’s Eastern Navajo Arts and Crafts fair.
Projects and Activities: The committee completed its major public education project. Fact sheets or profiles are now available about contemporary Native Americans and tribes in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. These materials will be distributed at Annual Session and, we hope, used in years to come to help Friends and others learn more about Indians in our region. During 2011-12, we focused especially on one regional concern. The Virginia Council on Indians was abolished as part of restructuring. It had been helpful to us as a committee, other citizens, and state/federal agencies. During the process, Martha wrote letters and met personally with staff to see what we could do to keep the office operating (without its state recognition authority which tribes felt had been compromised) or to assure that its functions were maintained by the parent department—Natural Resources. Sue joined in the effort. We will continue to track who is picking up what functions so we can keep the public informed.
Under Elizabeth’s leadership, we joined with other religious groups to acknowledge our history and formally renounce the Doctrine of Discovery and Papal Bulls (e.g., those issued in 1455 and 1493) that proclaimed Christians enjoyed a moral and legal right based solely on their religious identity to invade and seize Indigenous lands and dominate Indigenous Peoples. The World Council of Churches points out that the current situation of Indigenous Peoples around the world is the result of a linear program of 'legal' precedent, originating with the Doctrine of Discovery and codified in contemporary national laws and policies on sovereignty and property and title law. Dellie brought a Minute to the June Interim meeting, which was well received and sent back for us to heighten the significance of Christianity in the Minute wording. To see the Minute and accompanying materials (background, principles, question and answer section), go to http://www.bym-rsf.org/events/annualsession/as12welcome.html
We support the extended effort of the Virginia Council of Churches to secure federal recognition for six tribes. Bishops, Judicatory Executives, local pastors and laypersons have lobbied Congress. Recently tribal leaders met with Congressman Cantor. Senator Webb has stated he wants to make this happen before he leaves the Senate. There has been a hearing in the U.S. House and action in the Senate. [Individuals on our committee often write personal letters rather than our writing as a committee because having the word Baltimore in the title makes our letterhead less effective in states other than Maryland.] Sue sent this message to Representative Wolf: “Federal recognition is long overdue, and lack of it is an embarrassment to those of us who work with Tribal governments throughout the U.S. It is unconscionable that the successors of those who met the first Europeans here are not Federally recognized while more than 560 Tribal governments have such recognition….. Federal recognition of the Native peoples who met, and helped sustain the original European colonists--my ancestors and possibly yours--is long overdue. The Tribes came close to Federal recognition during the anniversary of the founding of Jamestown--which they predate. Please don't let the current opportunity slip away.”
Participation: Martha attended a Senate “Roundtable on Protecting our Ancestral Remains, Religious Freedoms, and Sacred Places.” Susan went to the National Congress of American Indians legislative session (and continues involvement with Torreon projects). Mary, Nancy, Pat, and Roger drove to Baltimore for American Indian Heritage Day. Mary and Pat heard Sherman Alexie discuss his book The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian selected for the “One Maryland One Book” Humanities Council program. Elizabeth, Nancy, Pat and Roger attended a talk by Mark Tayac (Piscataway) at Sandy Spring meeting. Gerri participated in numerous National Museum of the American Indian events. Dellie works closely with the Baltimore American Indian Center and Sue is part of the leadership of the Society of American Indian Government Employees. Jerry plans to arrange a traditional Indian dance for Dunnings Creek.
Annual Session Activities: In 2011, our committee set up an interest group session to report on current Indian issues and give a legislative update. For the 2012 session, the committee will sponsor an interest group on international Indigenous activities. Pat and Gerri will facilitate a workshop entitled “Huge Social Action Successes: Hallelujah,” inspired in part by this delightful video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LyviyF-N23A.
Good News: Piscataway tribes received official state recognition. Dellie attended the ceremony. Pat and Martha sent thank you letters to MD Governor O’Malley and Dellie wrote an article for Interchange newsletter.
Due to the Supreme Court decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act, the permanent reauthorization of the Indian Health Care Improvement Act remains is affirmed. Ten years of effort would have been lost if the Supreme Court had struck down the entire health reform legislation, as four Justices wanted to do. Pat sent congratulations to the National Indian Health Board.
Patricia Powers (Sandy Spring), Clerk
The Indian Affairs Committee has met three times and plans a fourth meeting as soon as new members are appointed. As they step down, we heartily thank Nora Caplan and David Elkinton for their service and commitment to Native Americans. Current members are Mary Corddry (Deer Creek); Elizabeth Koopman (Gwynedd); Mary Mallett, Pat Powers, Chuck Vekert (all Sandy Spring), and Gerri Williams (Washington). At a meeting held at Sandy Spring, SSMM Clerk Bette Hoover, Nancy and Jana McIntyre, and Roger Stone joined us for a briefing on policy and ideological debates affecting indigenous peoples.
Awareness and Advocacy
One aspect of our committee’s mission is to hear the aspirations of contemporary American Indians, Native Alaskans, and Native Hawaiians--with an emphasis on nearby Indian organizations and national policy matters--and to convey that information to the larger Quaker community—especially Friends connected with BYM. For instance, we were gratified that President Obama interacted with 500 leaders at a White House Tribal Nations Conference on November 5, 2009. The ensuing 17 page report of the unique Nation-to-Nation meeting describes today’s needs and goals. Learning about positive developments in the Indian world enables us to move beyond the conception of Indians as mere victims and to avoid unintended paternalism. One such exciting development: the National Congress of American Indians established the Embassy of Tribal Nations. It opened to fanfare in November 2009. Another: American Indians--who now vote—have swung the results in five House and Senate elections. Our Committee also stays alert to implications of current events, e.g. how the oil spill affected tribes in the gulf, and share local information, e.g., about Nightwolf’s DC show on Pacifica radio and pow-wows.
Despite our U.S. focus, we note circumstances of other indigenous peoples whose struggles for language revival and so forth mirror struggles here and whose successes can inform our understanding of how to achieve reconciliation. For example, Canada’s government issued a formal apology and approved $1.9 billion in financial redress for former residential school students. Australia’s government made a heartfelt public apology. At the urging of Senator Brownback (R-KS), a strong apology bill was recently passed by Congress, but it has never been discussed publicly by President Obama. Bolivia elected its first indigenous leader. After decades of effort and negotiation, the U.N. recognized painful histories and the unique place of indigenous peoples in the global community. It did so through the framework of a Declaration with 46 articles that spell out principles and concrete rights to be encouraged and protected. This is the type of awareness that can lead to Quaker action (more below).
Due to our location near the Capitol, we track what is taking place in each branch of the federal government. Our committee has a special interest in bills to provide formal recognition for the Virginia tribes, which are recognized by the state and by England but, nonsensically and unfairly, not by our own federal government. With Indians absent in mass media, Elizabeth Koopman and Pat Powers read the Indian Country Today newspaper and Indianz.com website to stay current. In the past, members of the Committee have also engaged with the Maryland government and with the Navajo Torreon chapter. Mary Corddry is one of many Friends who have stayed with Pat Kutzner in Cuba, NM. We want to do more to highlight the little known presence of Indians in this area. Currently, Mary Mallett is the most knowledgeable member about regional Indian organizations and activities.
This year, we organized key information in binders for quick access. We can now provide facts and statistics on Indian Country or copy materials for Friends who have questions about topics such as freedom of religion, the Indian holocaust, and sovereignty. Since our committee disburses funds from an “Indian Affairs Fund” dating back to the 19th century, we held serious discussions about how to make the wisest use of the money. We will continue the small contributions we traditionally make to Indian organizations such as the American Indian Society of DC and projects such as the Ramah Chapter Navajo Weaving Project. However, we will favor major new committee undertakings.
Issues and Actions
DECLARATION. We have joined with the Quaker Aboriginal Affairs Committee of Canadian Friends Service Committee, New York Yearly Meeting Indian Affairs Committee, and Philadelphia Yearly Meeting Indian Committee to make a final push for our governments to endorse universal equality. Here is background. The U.N. General Assembly adopted a landmark Declaration in September 2007 that establishes minimum standards for the survival, dignity, well-being and rights of the world's Indigenous peoples. Only four nations voted against adoption: Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and the U.S. Happily, in 2008 Australia decided to switch positions and in 2010 New Zealand followed suit. Due to intense advocacy, Canada and the U.S. are reconsidering decisions made by previous administrations. Taking action, our committee helped staff a table about the Declaration at the March FWCC Section of the Americas meeting, wrote to President Obama in November urging endorsement, and submitted comments to the State Department after the administration asked for public input for its review.
DOCTRINE. Some Episcopalians, Unitarians and Quakers are undertaking what at first glance seems to be an amorphous protest against arcane decrees, even though they are following the lead of U.S. Indian scholars and indigenous activists from many countries such as Peru. These advocates insist that, as a matter of principle and conscience, powerful institutions should rescind certain papal bulls and English charters. And that they should repudiate the 600 year old “Doctrine of Discovery,” which permitted colonization in places unclaimed by any other European Christian nation. Quakers benefited from the latter when William Penn was given tribal lands by the King. In what is expected to be a prolonged campaign, religious groups will call attention to (a) assumptions and presumptions permeating our thinking and (b) witting and unwitting acquiescence by people today to the notion that to the victor goes the spoils--permanently. This effort is not about guilt. An 1823 Supreme Court case, based on the discovery doctrine, codified a policy that was cited as recently as 2005 to dismiss Indian land rights. Thus, “settled” by colonists has become “settled” law and therefore immutable. The discovery doctrine also provides a convoluted rationale for our government’s continuing and complete power over tribes. After study, our committee better understood why PYM’s Indian Committee has undertaken this project and prepared a minute in support of efforts to raise consciousness in order to change policy.
Representation at Events
On November 1, 2009, Dellie James, Gerri Williams, and her husband Ray joined Elizabeth Koopman at Arch Street Meeting in Philadelphia to hear a speech by respected Indian leader Lenny Foster. At Thanksgiving, Mary Mallett attended the annual American Indian Society potluck dinner. In March 2010, Elizabeth organized a table on the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples at the Friends World Conference for Consultation. She was assisted by Dellie, Nancy McIntyre, and Norman Carr. This project entailed significant coordination with Quakers in Canada and elsewhere to gather printed and audio materials, including some in Spanish. Several films about the Declaration were shown. In June, Gerri participated in National Prayer Day to honor sacred sites and highlight the need for their protection. The commemoration event, held near the Capitol and sponsored by Suzan Harjo’s Morning Star Institute, was one of many small gatherings held around the country.
FOUR THINGS TO CELEBRATE. First, the Indian health care system can be brought at long last into the 21st century. After extraordinary persistence by Indian organizations, tribes, Quakers and other faith groups to compel the necessary action, Congress reauthorized the Indian Health Care Improvement Act as part of national health reform. Second, after 14 years in federal court to recover their own trust money, the Individual Indian Money plaintiffs may receive limited funds. A $3.4 billion settlement of the Cobell class action suit against the Interior Department was reached with the Obama administration, approved by the court, and approved (twice) by the House. The opposition of one senator may be overcome soon. Third, the backing by FCNL of the Tribal Law and Order Act is paying off. The bill--which will help reduce violence against women--has passed the Senate. Fourth, a true blessing. Cindy Darcy, a Mennonite who steered the Native American program in earlier days and worked for the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, is returning. In lieu of FCNL using an inexperienced intern this year, Cindy will work as a consultant with Legislative Director Ruth Flower.
Submitted by Clerk Patricia Powers
As we continue our efforts in support of Native American groups and advocates, the Committee serves in a variety of ways: (1) Giving small grants to American Indian individuals and groups engaged in activities supporting traditional cultures and ameliorating contemporary wrongdoing to Native persons; (2) Educating Friends about current tribal successes, challenges and issues of importance; (3) Providing Friends with the Native perspective(s) on controversial topics such as Indian gaming; (4) Collaborating with other Quaker groups who share concern for Indigenous well being, and (5) Discerning ways to witness against stereotypes and on behalf of Indigenous rights. One aspect of Quaker witness today involves moving those who have an interest and care beyond charity and an interest in history to current knowledge and engagement.
TRIBAL REQUEST. Rico Newman, Piscataway Traditional Speaker, who is acquainted with some Baltimore Yearly Meeting Friends, contacted Bill Miles and Pat Powers to discuss the possibility of Quaker assistance with the tribe’s forthcoming, long overdue, election. Here are highlights of his letter:
“I hope you, the Friends, can be of assistance to the Tribe. The tribe has for over a year now attempted an arrangement whereby we can conduct an election for Tribal Council members in a way that is satisfactory to our membership. As you may know, elections can be divisive if there is reason given to suspect the authenticity of voting results. Our effort to have an accounting or law firm handle the ballots has proved beyond our means to cover the expense. The election committee has determined to have the process conducted by an organization that has a reliable reputation that would put the election ballot receipt and count in good standing.
Wanishi (thank you)”
Dellie James volunteered to help and held discussions with Cory Newman, chair of the Tribal Council of Elders election committee. It is anticipated that the election, with the logistical assistance of Friends at Stony Run and Homewood Meetings, will occur in the fall of 2011. Ballots will be sent to all Piscataways/Conoys on the tribal list. The Council of Elders (which is different from the Council Representatives) will be the arbiter of any questions. Our committee’s role is to insure the integrity of the election, i.e., that all tribal members are sent a ballot and that no returned ballots are destroyed. Dellie has talked with Corey Newman who will arrange time, place, and notification.
VIRGINIA FACTS. Our committee decided to put together some brief facts sheets on Indians living today in Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania to use for Quaker and community education, as well as our own. For example, only two members were familiar with any of the eleven Virginia tribes and only one personally knew Indian leaders in that state. We expected that preparing fact sheets for the three states would be a fairly easy activity. A year later we are still slogging along drafting brief and expanded fact sheets about Indigenous people residing in Virginia and the tribes who have been there for centuries. They are 90% complete. Obtaining reliable and consistent census data has been the biggest challenge. However, in the process, contacts have been made with the staff of the Virginia Council on Indians, journalists and experts who have written on the subject, and tribal representatives. As a group, we read a book entitled We’re Still Here: Contemporary Virginia Indians Tell Their Story by Sandra F. Waugaman and Danielle Moretti-Langholtz. We also have gotten a deeper understanding of tensions regarding state recognition of tribes and up-to-date information about the barriers to securing federal recognition for Virginia tribes.
We hope and anticipate that preparing the Maryland fact sheet will be less taxing. We have already gathered materials. Furthermore, the Maryland Commission on Indian Affairs already has compiled and printed more facts. In addition, a great deal of information has been studied and assembled about Pennsylvania even though there are no tribes living there today. The difficulties we have encountered, despite diligent research by Pat and Sue Marcus, reveal why little is known about contemporary Indians on the East Coast. National data from many sources is far less available for small populations like American Indians and Native Alaskans and state census data lags far behind national in its release.
Continuing Activities and Actions
HISTORIC CALLING. How do we create “right relations” between Friends and the first Americans? How can we best listen and be of assistance? How do we retain a centuries old commitment? Are Quaker organizations doing all they can? Here is a May 31, 2011 statement: Baltimore Yearly Meeting Indian Affairs Committee minutes its support of the visitation of Kate DeRiel of the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting Indian Committee and Elizabeth Koopman of the Baltimore Yearly Meeting Indian Affair Committee with Shan Cretin, General Secretary of the American Friends Service Committee. We embrace hope and aspiration for renewed, reinvigorated and visible 21st Century Quaker witness for and with Indigenous peoples.
Although our emphasis is regional, American Indians are affected by what transpires at the national and even international level. We continue to cooperate and coordinate with Quaker organizations in the U.S. and Canada.
DECLARATION. When the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was adopted, the U.S., Canada, Australia, and New Zealand were in opposition. After sustained advocacy, on December 6, 2010 the United States signed on-- a huge victory for American Indians, Native Alaskans, and Native Hawaiians. Numerous Quaker organizations expended great effort to influence this policy change. Here were some of our own actions. First, Elizabeth Koopman explained the significance of the Declaration in a fall 2010 Interchange article. Second, during the decision making period, our committee sent a letter to President Obama and submitted formal comments to the State Department. Third, at the 2010 Annual Session, Dellie James made an initial presentation and requested that the Yearly Meeting urge the U.S. to endorse the declaration. At Interim Meeting on October 6, 2010, BYM adopted the requested Minute. Then Meg Meyer, Clerk of Interim Meeting, sent a letter to President Obama. We want to thank Bill Mims, clerk of the Peace and Social Concerns Committee, for his helpfulness during this process. Advocates for Indigenous peoples worldwide have shifted their focus to implementation; Elizabeth Koopman who stays in touch with dozens of Quaker and Indigenous organizations is monitoring and participating in these endeavors.
COBELL. Trust reform and restitution for past harms is a cause we have sought to bolster. We are relieved to see the resolution of a monumental case about our government’s lack of accounting and flagrant breaching of its fiduciary obligations. Ongoing negligence, and worse, kept generations of Indians in poverty who owned but did not control their land and natural resources because the government insisted on holding “in trust” for them. (Starting in 1887 and through today, on “behalf” of individual Indian families, the government collects money and lease royalties from businesses that grow crops, graze livestock, mine, cut timber, and drill for oil and gas on Indian lands.) The bitter dispute involving billions of dollars and affecting 500,000 Indians played out simultaneously in the courts, Congress, and executive branch agencies. Interior Secretary Babbitt, Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, and Interior Secretary Gale Norton were even held in contempt of court.
Although Parade Magazine ran a cover story on the scandal in 2001, nothing stays in the public eye. Friends Committee on National Legislation reached out to Yearly Meetings like ours to help raise awareness and secure support. Quakers encouraged religious and other groups to become involved as a matter of conscience, arguing that if the right thing were not done in this elaborately documented case, where congressional committees raised questions about fraud as early as 1915, there could never be justice. Members of our committee and Sandy Spring friends met with their elected representatives in the past. In November 2010 our committee sent out alerts to a network of allies to contact Congress at a crucial moment. As a representative of Quakers, Pat Powers received messages from the Indian plaintiff team such as “We truly appreciated your support this week” and “Would you like to go to the signing at the White House? It's unclear how many seats we can get.” [not enough]
After much lobbying, Congress authorized the settlement President Obama arranged between Interior, Treasury and the plaintiffs. In June 2011, Senior U.S. District Judge Hogan approved the $3.4 billion settlement, the largest ever reached with the federal government, although billions less than what fairness would have dictated. The judge gave high praise to Elouise Cobell (Blackfeet, Montana) whose name became synonymous with the class action lawsuit filed in 1996. "She has done more for the individual Native American than any other person in recent years," said the judge. She has shown "unusual effort and courage" in leading the lawsuit. Attorney Gingold said, Ms. Cobell "has dedicated her life to righting this wrong." Elouise Cobell told the judge that the courts had been willing to help Native Americans when the other branches of government failed them. "For over 100 years, individual Indians have been victimized by the government's gross mismanagement of the Individual Indian Trust and our trust assets, including the income earned on our trust lands," Cobell said. "And for the last 15 years this court alone has held out hope for individual Indians. On behalf of Native people, I appreciate beyond words what Judge Lamberth, Judge Robertson, and you have done and how each of you has stepped up and courageously resolved some of the thorniest issues that any judge has ever had to address. I am deeply grateful that this Court has not failed us.”
CONGRESS. To learn about current issues on Capitol Hill, Susan Lepper attended a February 2011 briefing sponsored by Friends Committee on National Legislation for religious organizations. She obtained materials prepared by Native leaders such as Katy Jackman from the National Congress of American Indians. To update ourselves, we studied these documents:
*Keeping Native Women Safe: Tribal Law and Order Act and the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization;
*Tribal Law and Order Act Implementation Update
*National American Indian Housing Council’s Briefing Paper including past appropriations
*Indian Country and the Federal Budget
*News and Updates for Indian Country on FY2011 Spending Agreement and FY2012 Budget Resolution
Outreach to Indian communities
On November 4, 2010, the Maryland Commission on Indian Affairs hosted the 2010 American Indian Heritage Month Celebration Kick-off in Baltimore. Maryland has eight Indigenous tribes. Committee members Mary Corddry, Nancy McIntyre, Roger Wolcott, and Pat Powers plus guest Bill Anthony attended. One objective was to meet Maryland Indian leaders and we did meet the administrator-director of the Commission Keith Colston, Commissioner Cornelius Red Deer, Chief Rudy “Laughing Otter” Hall of the Accohannock Indian Tribe, and several others including an elder woman from the Eastern Shore who had information of particular interest to Mary Corddry.
Mary was invited to a pre-Thanksgiving meal in honor of Native American Heritage Month and Indians who reside in Cecil County. It was held at the community college and hosted by the Multicultural Student Union. She learned that a small number of Accohannock members live in Somerset County and Nause-Waiwash Band members in Dorchester County.
In mid-February, the American Indian Society sponsored a fundraiser. Mary Mallett, Roger Wolcott and wife, and Pat Powers and husband attended the pancake breakfast held at the Church of St. Clement Episcopal in Alexandria, VA. Besides supporting the fundraiser, we wanted to meet Virginia Indian leaders and met a number of them including Karen Collins, Mitchell Bush, and Mary Sunbeam.
Gerri Williams and Pat Powers and spouses attended a pow wow at the Timonium fairgrounds in mid-July sponsored by the Baltimore American Indian Center. Dellie James assisted with the logistics, working at the front desk. The master of ceremonies was Keith Colston, the administrator of the Maryland Commission on Indian Affairs. Pat and Dellie also went to the Howard County pow wow later in July.
In November Mary Corddry made a presentation to her Deer Creek Meeting based on the Native American Heritage Month event she attended and the conversations she had there with tribal members about their activities and facts about Indians living in Maryland today. For history, Mary recommends a book written in 1818 and reissued in 1876 by John Heckewelder called History, Manners, and Customs of the Indian Nations Who Once Inhabited Pennsylvania and the Neighboring States.
Members and Meetings
Our committee has met three times this year and will convene again at Annual Session. IAC members are Ellen Arginteanu (State College); Mary Corddry (Deer Creek); Dellie James (Stony Run); Elizabeth Koopman (Gwynedd); Susan Lepper (Washington); Nancy McIntyre (Sandy Spring); Pat Powers (Sandy Spring); Gerri Williams (Washington); and Roger Wolcott (Sandy Spring). Mary Mallett (Sandy Spring) is a co-opted member. Two members, who will be formally appointed, have already started working with our committee: Martha Catlin (Woodlawn) and Sue Marcus (Woodlawn). We were very sorry to learn-- but certainly understand--that Ellen Arginteanu will be unable to serve this coming year.