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Pocahontas and the President

posted Nov 27, 2017, 1:41 PM by John Norwood   [ updated Nov 27, 2017, 1:43 PM ]

submitted by Dr. J.R. Norwood, ACET General Secretary

In a ceremony at the White House honoring Native Code talkers, who are known to have been vital to the success and victory in World War II (and a lesser known fact is that code talkers even were used to aid the victory in World War I), President Trump decided to deviate from the focus on their valiant service to take a swipe at a political opponent, once again making a reference to Senator Elizabeth Warren as "Pocahontas" (see link below).  After his initial use of this reference during his campaign, numerous American Indian organizations denounced the manner in which the name was used. There are some who ignored the response from Indian Country and defended Mr. Trump, both then and now, with the excuse that the name "Pocahontas" is not a racial slur. When honorably referencing the actual historic figure, this indeed is true. However, the name becomes a derogatory racial reference when used as an insult. American Indian names, whether they be historic or contemporary, are not meant to be used as insults.  To do so is to reduce them to racial slurs. There are many in Indian Country who have given various perspectives on Senator Warren's claim of an American Indian ancestor. There are many non-tribal Americans who make similar claims of indigenous ancestry. Sometimes it is a matter of documented genealogical fact and sometimes it's merely a matter of family lore. Such private claims, when not used to claim the legal protections or benefits of the citizens of American Indian Nations, cause little or no harm to tribal people. However, degrading an American Indian name or historic tribal reference by using it as an insult is making a racial slur, whether knowingly or unknowingly. The right to determine if it is a slur belongs to those who have been insulted, not the one who made the insult.  The appropriate and mature response when one is made aware of such an insult to an entire race of people is to apologize and to not do it again. An even better response after the apology is to try to understand and learn more of the proud heritage of the people that were insulted and why the manner in which you used the reference may be viewed as an insult.  Such a response would unite instead of divide.  It would heal instead of hurt.  This is a "teachable moment" that could be transformed into something positive, if America and its president are willing to learn.  We can only hope.

- Trump calls Warren 'Pocahontas' at event honoring Native Americans http://nbcnews.to/2zJNqjn
- World News Tonight (@ABCWorldNews) tweeted at 2:52 PM on Mon, Nov 27, 2017: MOMENTS AGO: Pres. Trump at White House event honoring Navajo code talkers, makes joke about "Pocahontas" Sen. Elizabeth Warren. https://t.co/PgdhbxBrfT
(https://twitter.com/ABCWorldNews/status/935234798045446144?s=09)

ACET is a NCAI Mid-Year Conference Sponsor and has a Bag Insert

posted Jun 9, 2017, 8:35 AM by John Norwood   [ updated Jun 9, 2017, 8:41 AM ]


A Position Statement on “Indigenous Peoples Day”

posted Jan 11, 2017, 7:07 PM by John Norwood

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.

ACET Passes Water Protector Resolution of Support

posted Jan 11, 2017, 7:03 PM by John Norwood   [ updated Jan 11, 2017, 7:03 PM ]

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.

ACET Adopts UNDRIP and OASDRIP through Official Resolutions

posted Jan 11, 2017, 6:57 PM by John Norwood

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.

ACET Board Passes a Resolution Against an Action of the State of Oklahoma

posted Jun 8, 2016, 1:36 PM by John Norwood   [ updated Jun 8, 2016, 1:37 PM ]

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]

ACET Request Executive Clemency for Leonard Peltier

posted Apr 23, 2016, 9:27 AM by John Norwood   [ updated Apr 23, 2016, 9:31 AM ]

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

ACET Denounces Hate Mongering

posted Jan 27, 2016, 8:01 AM by John Norwood

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.


Thanks to Former ASIA Washburn

posted Jan 27, 2016, 7:52 AM by John Norwood

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!

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