Current News and Information
From the Alliance of Colonial Era Tribes
Indigenous Peoples Day is being promoted by many people of conscience as an alternative celebration to Columbus Day. There has been an increased awareness and sensitivity to the atrocities committed by Columbus and others during the so-called “age of discovery.” Many American Indian tribes and tribal people reject the celebration of Columbus as the discoverer of the Americas, given that indigenous civilizations thrived across Turtle Island for millennia prior to his arrival. Columbus presided over the inhumane treatment of tribal people and territorial theft of tribal lands. Moreover, the doctrine associated with European “discovery” of non-European people has served as the foundation for the continuing oppressive impact of colonization. Many tribal people are confused and offended as to how Christopher Columbus is presented as a hero while Adolph Hitler is accepted as a villain, when both initiated and participated in crimes against humanity and instigated genocide.
While we applaud the awakening of the conscience of some across the United States in regard to this issue, we approach the establishment of Indigenous Peoples Day with some caution. While celebrating the cultural heritage of the many indigenous peoples of the hemisphere is a worthy initiative, the danger is that the history and continuing issues of our people may come into focus for a day and then go out of focus for the rest of the year in the minds of the general public. This concern also includes celebrating our people, nations, and culture only in the “past tense,” while ignoring the continuing heritage of the many of us who still remain. While a heightened awareness and celebration of indigenous people and culture on a single day is a good thing, it is much more important that an effort be made to educate about the true history, ongoing challenges and struggles of the original people of the Americas. The catharsis of a single day celebration could lead some to erroneously believe that enough has been done to correct the atrocities of over half of a millennia… or that an apology and commemorative annual day is an adequate replacement for the establishment of justice.
Acknowledging that Christopher Columbus should not be viewed as a hero and teaching the truth of his arrival and activities in the Americas is long overdue. An annual Indigenous Peoples Day can also aid in overturning misconceptions, stereotypes, and miseducation that perpetuate the mistreatment of the indigenous peoples of Turtle Island – if it is well thought out and well planned. Or, it could promote the very errors and behaviors which continue to do harm to indigenous people.
Whether an annual Indigenous Peoples Day is established locally or nationally, it is vital that communities learn about the indigenous heritage of their areas and gain understanding of tribal nations and peoples that have continued there. Learning the truth of that history, and the current realities of such continuing historic tribal communities, is far more crucial to respectful interaction with indigenous peoples and can lead to the better establishment of justice for indigenous peoples.
The ACET Board passed a resolution of continuing support for the Standing Rock Sioux Water Protectors who have bravely stood against the Dakota Access Pipeline. Even in the wake of the government's withdraw of the permits for further development, many of the protectors are standing guard through the transition of presidential administrations. The ACET resolution urges continued vigilance and also encourages an environmentally friendly conduct of the ongoing protest regarding the camp's waste. The full resolution is posted on the ACET website's Resolutions page.
During their December 2016 meetings, the ACET Board formally adopted both the United Nations and the Organization of American States Declarations on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Both declarations have been used by ACET and its member tribes in statements and resolutions, but it was determined that official adoption should take place. Both resolutions can be found on the Resolutions page of the ACET website.
Resolution # 2016-06-08 “Against any action seeking to limit the definition of American Indian Oklahoma Legislature and the Changing Definition of ‘Indian’” regarding the recent passing of the policy and state of Oklahoma redefining “American Indian” to exclusively mean a member of a BIA-listed tribe. Read the resolution by clicking [here]
President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. President:
The Alliance of Colonial Era Tribes (ACET) is an organization of eleven sovereign American Indian nations of the eastern and southern seaboard of the United States. The organization is affiliated with the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), the oldest and largest organization of tribal governments in the country (including the participation of a majority of the federally recognized tribes). Additionally, the ACET governing board includes three members of the NCAI executive committee and both co-chairs of the NCAI Task Force on Federal Acknowledgment.
The Alliance of Colonial Era Tribes (ACET) joins its voice with organizations and individuals around the world in calling for executive clemency to be immediately granted to Leonard Peltier. While Mr. Peltier was convicted for the 1975 shooting deaths of two federal agents, US prosecutors have repeatedly admitted that they did not and cannot prove his guilt and appellate courts have cited numerous instances of misconduct in the case. This case has become a rallying cry for American Indian tribal governments and organizations and represents a history of egregious injustices committed against our people. Mr. Peltier was not afforded due process in an objective court. He has spent over four decades incarcerated for a crime he did not commit. Even from behind bars, he has become an inspiration to many, encouraging clean living and demonstrating positive community involvement through his writings and even through his moving artwork. While he is not responsible for the deaths of the federal agents, he has repeatedly expressed sadness over their deaths and the contentious situation which led to them.
Now over 70 years old, his health is deteriorating rapidly. Leonard Peltier has suffered from a stroke which is left him partially blind, a debilitating jaw condition leaving him unable to properly chew, diabetes, hypertension, and heart condition. In the name of justice, grant Leonard Peltier executive clemency.
Respectfully Submitted on Behalf of ACET
The ACET Board wishes to express its distress at the climate of intolerance and hate being promoted and stimulated as a means to gain political support by some of current the presidential candidates and political leaders. Marginalizing a population based upon religion or ethnic origin is an expression of the worst tendencies and merely scapegoats many who are innocent while playing right into the strategies of our real enemies. We call on thoughtful and reflective individuals who are dedicated to liberty and justice for all to stand with us in denouncing any call for a ban on the travel or immigration of all Muslims to the United States.
When Kevin Washburn was appointed to the post of Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs, both he and Larry Roberts visited with the Task Force on Federal Acknowledgment of the National Congress of American Indians within the first few days of his time in that office. He promised that he was going to make changing the federal recognition process a top priority. Unlike many government officials who make promises and then make little or no effort to keep them, and often spend more time finding excuses as to why they can't be kept, Kevin Washburn kept his promise. With great difficulty and much resistance from enemies of tribal sovereignty both within and outside of Indian Country, he pressed on to keep his word. When the Obama administration demure debt providing the needed support to press through the changes that were so desperately needed, Kevin Washburn still kept up the fight. When he was attacked by members of Congress during public hearings, Kevin Washburn stood his ground. While not all of the changes were successfully passed, the Assistant Secretary fought long and hard to keep his word and then protect the modifications that he was successful in making.
In December 2015, Kevin Washburn resigned his position as Assistant Secretary. ACET acknowledges his valiant efforts and warriors heart. While much more still needs to be done, much progress has been made because of the work that was done on his watch.
Furthermore, we pledge to continue to fight on and want to encourage Larry Roberts as he assumes the post of his former colleague. We will always stand for justice and the promotion of inherent sovereignty for all historic American Indian nations!
National attention has been focused on the many protests over several recent deaths of unarmed African-American males, both adult men and boys, at the hands of police. There is also tension among the protestors over the issue that the judicial system failed to take the actions that met their expectations. This has polarized our nation with numerous rallies and marches expressing the level of frustration of many citizens of all races over perceived police abuse and judicial manipulation protecting the abusers. The polarization is also expressed in the respon
People of color are often uneasy around police because of the history of profiling based on stereotypes that can classify even the most law-abiding and upstanding citizens as nothing more than “potential criminals” in the eyes of police. While needing to rely on local law enforcement to “protect and serve,” brown and black males are also often taught to be extremely cautious in the presence of police officers who may see any movement, behavior, tone, or even dress in a different light with them than they would under similar circumstances with any of their white counterparts. This is a reflection of the underlying racism in American society and not merely a perception of law enforcement officers. There is a predisposition that places brown and black males at a greater risk of harm at the hands of police than if they were white. The need for the services of law enforcement, while also being fearful of the presence and potential responses of police officers, leaves some American minority communities in a very tense relationship with the law enforcement officers patrolling their communities. The historical shortcomings of the justice system, which often leaves America’s brown and black citizens seeking justice but very often not receiving it, adds to an atmosphere of distrust which can fuel a underlying mood of hostility even among the law abiding.
The refrain lifted by many protesters has been “Black life matters.” This is certainly a true statement, but it is woefully misleading in its scope as it suggests that African Americans are the minority group solely at risk, or most at risk, when engaged by police. As an intertribal organization of 11 member nations, the Alliance of Colonial Era Tribes (ACET) is keenly aware of how American Indians are historically disregarded and our issues, and even our very presence, commonly overlooked by the larger population. A little-known fact is that, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention - National Center for Health Statistics 2011 report, the group most likely to be killed by law enforcement are American Indian males between the ages of 25 and 40.
Acknowledging these facts does not necessarily equate to attacking or undermining law enforcement or the legal system. There are many upstanding and ethical law enforcement officers who carry out their duties with compassion and professionalism. They should not be negatively stereotyped any more than any other demographic should be. The recent attacks on police officers and the much-publicized calls for “dead cops” by some protesters are unconscionable. By all accounts, the police officers who recently lost their lives at the hands of deranged and vengeful citizens were those who were willing to put their lives at risk in order to defend the innocent. Their deaths are a great loss to all law-abiding Americans.
The Alliance of Colonial Era Tribes (ACET) grieves the loss of each and every life, as all life is a precious gift from the Creator. We also call on people of good conscience, both civilians and those in law enforcement, to deal with reason and compassion with one another, acknowledging the pains, fears, and biases that come into play on both sides of the argument in an effort to move toward mutual respect, respectfulness, sensitivity, and reconciliation. We call on the police to acknowledge that peaceful protestors and demonstrators are citizens, worthy of their respect and protection, and to whom law enforcement is accountable. We call on protestors and demonstrators to remain peaceful in their exercise of their right to free speech and assembly, refraining from viewing or describing all police officers as “the enemy.” We also call on the Congress of the United States to establish federal policy requiring that the deaths of persons caused by police under questionable circumstances be investigated and prosecuted by those who are unaffiliated with the local jurisdiction and local police department in order to ensure fair, transparent, and ethical processes as a matter of justice.
Chief Sharon Bryant and the Council of the Monacan Indian Nation of Virginia voted to join ACET on June 20, 2014. The Monacans have participated with ACET for several months, sitting in as observers on board meetings after their tribe was deemed to have met the membership requirements as a continuing Indian nation with colonial and federal contact. ACET welcomes the Monacan Indian Nation into full membership!
The Alliance of Colonial Era Tribes (ACET) is in support of the “Proud To Be...” web initiative launched by the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) and ChangetheMascot.org initiative of the Oneida Indian Nation, which produced a public education video on the topic (which can be viewed at http://www.changethemascot.org/proud-to-be-video/). Recent television ads, based upon the video, were run at various locations throughout the country in an effort to heighten public awareness to the issue of harmful American Indian mascots in general, and their use by the Washington Redsk*ns in particular. Additionally, ACET applauds the United States Patent Office for denying several registrations of the Washington Redsk*ns name and logo. It is our hope that moral conscience will cause the Washington Redsk*ns owner not to appeal this decision; but, if he does, we hope that he will not prevail.
ACET supports the athletes and conscientious fans of the Washington Redsk*ns, but not the use of the derogatory and racist name or the disrespectful and stereotypical behaviors it promotes. The use of American Indian caricatures as sports or marketing mascots promotes negative stereotypes, disregards the dignity of American Indian heritage, misappropriates American Indian cultural practices and values, promotes a misunderstanding American Indian history and continuing realities, and further alienates American Indian people.
Individual tribal governments may have differing perspectives on the use of tribal names by educational institutions and athletic teams, when permission from the local tribes is granted and ongoing cultural education and sensitivity training is done in cooperation with their tribal nation. However, there is unanimity that derogatory and racist names and caricatures should not be tolerated. ACET supports the NCAI report, Ending The Legacy Of Racism InSports & The Era Of Harmful “Indian” Sports Mascots.