58. The Promised Land
Written & performed by Periwinkle
From the CD The Promised Land: American Indian Songs of Lament and Protest (Smithsonian Folkways, USA 1981)



0.0: A prefatory remark from the dead

‘They made us many promises, more than I could remember, but they never kept but one; they promised to take our land, and they took it.’

– Sitting Bull, quoted in Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee – An Indian History of the American West, by Dee Brown, Viking, 1970

0.1: The words of the song

In this land their land, when the Creator made it our land
And for 24 dollars and beads they got Manhattan Island?
Then they started pushing our nations to the reservations
And grabbing anything they could steal away from us!?

There’s a quarter of an acre left of the Golden Hill
Oldest reservation
Land of the Paugusett, in the Woodlands of Connecticut
And yet those ‘fat cats’ even tried to pilfer that
Just how pushy can those ruling classes be? We will see!

For the Sacred Black Hills of the Lakotas
They desecrated just to fill their quotas
‘Cause the rich need more gold – just to make themselves feel brave and bold
And isn’t it the Poverty that they create the only thing that
Their money can’t buy?

And now the Wompanogs and the Pasamaquody Aims
And the Pennoscot, like the Seminole Land Claims
They’ll only try to slice down to a 1790 price
Don’t they always find some way to justify such dishonesty?
They even said they were owed two million
For the vast ‘improvements’ on the Mashpee Village
Well no one hired them, if they did they’d have to fire them
Because you can’t improve on nature, no way!

Just like that Tee Hit Ton Bill, the Pueblos’ Holy Black Mesa will
Be legalised on Capitol Hill – just to confiscate more land – and still
What should be stickin’ in everyone’s craw is – again it’s without due process of the law
But then what ever really was considered sacred to them?

They break their own laws; they insert their own clause
They use words like ‘progress’ to excuse their ‘wrongness’
And they must resort to lies
Making the Indians look like the bad guys
Don’t they know that everyone knows that they’re still scalping us?

They back room and board – we’d have gotten it if we’d lost the war
But conveniently they’ve forgotten that we are the true Landlords
Why would we have to fight if they’d just acted right
And not violated our hospitality?

Instead they say they’re not responsible for ‘past injustice’
But what we really hear is justice is for just US
And they won’t stop it – long as they profit
And isn’t human rights something that they only talk about?

Now comes those 11 more infamous Bills: more equal
Opportunities to kill
See here you Senators with all you non sequiturs
This time the Longest Walk is to make the loudest squawk
To hear the whole world ask why you’re still trying to

Still they pretend that we’re not needy and that they’re
Not greedy
Like it’s not enough that they broke all our treaties
You’d think they’d know by now …The Great Spirit
Is uneasy
Because HE knows who is lacking in integrity!

Way yah hay yah hah
Way yah hay yah hah HO

Source: http://www.folkways.si.edu/AlbumDetails.aspx?itemid=2013

0.2: The world in the song

‘…and for twenty four dollars they got Manhattan.’

‘In Battery Park at the lower tip of Manhattan stands a monument to the legend we all learned in elementary school – how the Dutch bought Manhattan for $24 worth of beads and trinkets. Incorporating a huge flagpole, on its base is a bas relief depicting the transaction. It is captioned in stone, ‘The purchase of the Island of Manhattan was accomplished in 1626. Thus was laid the foundation of the City of New York.’

It’s time to rethink this little fable. […] Native Americans and European American ideas about land ownership were not so far apart. Most land sales before the twentieth century, including sales between whites, transferred primarily the right to farm, mine, and otherwise develop the land. Access to undeveloped land was considered public, within limits of good conduct. Moreover, tribal negotiators often made sure that deeds and treaties explicitly reserved hunting, fishing, gathering, and travelling rights to Native Americans. Natives were correct when they believed they still had the right to hunt on the land they had sold. Nevertheless Europeans often then accused them of trespassing and jailed and sometimes killed them for the offence.

Even if they understood that they could continue to use Manhattan, it still seems surprising that American Indians would trade away their very homeland – sell their villages and gardens, their fishing grounds and hunting land – for $24 or even $4,800 worth of beads and trinkets. Peter Francis Jr., Director of the Center for Bead Research in Lake Placid, points out that no documentary evidence even suggests that European trade beads were used to buy Manhattan.

If by now the story seems hopelessly implausible, it should – because it didn’t happen. It turns out that the Dutch paid the wrong tribe for Manhattan – the Canarsies. Today visitors can take the subway from Battery Park to Canarsie – the name lives on – in Brooklyn. And indeed, the Canarsies lived in what is now Brooklyn. So why wouldn’t they sell Manhattan to the Dutch? Especially since the Dutch probably paid a substantial sum in the form of blankets, kettles, steel axes, knives, and perhaps guns – goods American Indians valued highly and would go to great lengths to obtain. No doubt the Canarsies were as pleased with the bargain as the New Yorker who sold Brooklyn Bridge to some later Europeans – they got paid for something that wasn’t theirs in the first place.

The purchase also made allies of the Canarsies, who otherwise might have joined with the Weckquaesgeeks, the Indians who lived on Manhattan and owned most of it. The Netherlanders didn’t try to buy off the Weckquaesgeeks, a more difficult task since they knew, loved, and made their homes on Manhattan. Instead, they waited as a succession of inter-Indian wars, some instigated by the Dutch, and a series of epidemics weakened the Weckquaesgeeks. Then in the 1640s, with the aid of the Canarsies and other Native Americans on Long Island, the Dutch exterminated most of the Weckquaesgeeks.’

- Stealing The Land, sourced from ‘Lies Across America: What Our Historic Sites Get Wrong’. By James W. Loewen. (New York: The New Press, 1999]. Read the full text at worldfreeinternet.net

‘…a quarter of an acre left of the Golden Hill. Oldest Reservation’

‘There’s something in this country that always wants to destroy people’s language if it is not English. But it’s still possible for the Pequannock people who are also known as the Golden Hill Paugussetts to get back their language. I have made tapes of the Delaware tribe’s medicine woman and elders speaking that tribe’s language, which is the oldest and purest Algonquin language. It is the grandfather of all the Algonquin languages. All the tribes of southern New England spoke dialects of the Algonquin language. Roger Williams recorded the Narragansett’s language in a book called ‘A Key Into the Language of America.’

A Congregational minister who had a church in what is now Branford in the 1630s translated Christian prayers into the language of the Pequannock. These translations are in the Collections of the Connecticut Historical Society – Volume III. With these tapes, with these books, we still have the language. We still have the ability to make our language live again. If you have the language it is possible to get back everything that’s important – the living tradition, the living culture.’

- Indian Tradition and a Need for Recognition, by Sam Libby, New York Times, February 2, 1997

‘Land of the Paugusett’

‘Q: Donald Trump and other people have said that people did not claim to be members of Connecticut Indian tribes until it was possible to make a lot of money from Indian casinos. How do you feel about that?

A: The Pequannock Indians are the longest recognised Indian group in the United States. In 1658 the first reservation in all the American English colonies was created for the Pequannock people on the Golden Hill. It was called the Golden Hill because of the corn my people grew on the hill. That hill is now where most of downtown Bridgeport is.

This makes us the oldest reservation Indians in the United States. If you have a reservation you’re recognised by the Government. I started preparing the first petition for Federal recognition in 1975, long before there was a possibility of gambling houses.’

- Indian Tradition and a Need for Recognition, by Sam Libby, New York Times, February 2, 1997

‘…in the Woodlands of Connecticut’

‘Connecticut has been home to humans for over 10,000 years. This time period has been categorised into four eras of Native American history: Paleo-Indian, Archaic, Woodland, and Historic. The first people to live in Connecticut were the Paleo-Indians. After the last ice age, these people migrated across the land bridge Alaska shared with Asia and settled in the Northeast. They lived a nomadic lifestyle, surviving by hunting animals and gathering plants and nuts. They migrated to different locations throughout the year in search of food and made camps in river and stream valleys. Using primitive weapons and moving with the seasons, the Paleo-Indians learned to survive in the harsh Northeastern weather and were able to sustain themselves for thousands of years.

The Archaic Period, which lasted from about 9,000 to 3,000 years ago, saw significant changes in the Native peoples’ environment and way of life. The climate warmed and became more hospitable to diverse plants and animals. The abundance of edible plants and animals helped sustain larger human populations. The Archaic Indians lived similarly to the Paleo-Indians. They were still nomadic, often returning to the same camps on a seasonal basis. They hunted and gathered food, which was more abundant; therefore easier to find. The major change in ancient Indian life came during the Woodland period.

The Woodland Period, lasting from 3,000 to 400 years ago, witnessed many Native American advances. Tools and pottery became more sophisticated, the bow and arrow was invented, and plants were domesticated. These improvements allowed for even larger populations than during the Archaic period. Instead of temporary camps, villages were created, ending the seasonal nomadic routine. Corn, beans, and squash were grown to compliment the hunted and gathered food.

Connecticut’s modern Indians are defined as the tribes who occupied the area during the time of European exploration and settlement in the 17th century. There were as many as sixteen different Native American tribes in Connecticut. These people lived in small villages, were partly nomadic, and depended on agriculture. They first felt the presence of Europeans before they actually arrived in their area. In 1633, small pox spread throughout the Connecticut Indian population after being transmitted to the Indians of Massachusetts by Europeans. From this point on, European contact only brought the Native Americans more disease, warfare, and encroachment that decimated their population.’

- The History and People of Connecticut, by Rickie Lazzerini http://www.kindredtrails.com/Connecticut-History-1.html

‘…the Sacred Black Hills of the Lakotas,’

‘I did not know how much was ended. When I look back now from this high hill of my old age, I can see the butchered women and children lying heaped and scattered all along the crooked gulch as plain as I saw them with eyes still young. And I can see that something else died there in the bloody mud, and was buried in the blizzard. A people’s dream died there. It was a beautiful dream…’

— Black Elk, Oglala Holy Man, on the aftermath of the massacre at Wounded Knee, South Dakota, December, 1890 where the United States Army Seventh Cavalry used gattling guns to slaughter 300 helpless Lakota children, men and women.

‘…the Wompanogs Aims,’


MASHPEE – The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe on Thursday became a federally recognised sovereign nation, a decision that marks the end of a 32-year effort to gain such status and the beginning of a new era for tribal members.

The tribe received word at 5 pm Thursday from the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs reaffirming its March 2006 ruling that the tribe had met all seven criteria necessary to become a federally recognised tribe.

With this ruling, the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe becomes the 564th tribe recognised by the federal government and the first to be recognised during the Bush Administration.

The Mashpee-based tribe is the second tribe recognised in Massachusetts. The Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah) on Martha’s Vineyard was recognised 20 years ago. Today’s positive finding for Mashpee officially takes effect in 90 days. ‘Without recognition and with economic pressures on the Cape, our tribe would have dissolved into the landscape,’ said Tribal Council Chairman Glenn Marshall. ‘Recognition as a sovereign nation has saved the tribe that met the Mayflower.’ Indian tribes recognised as sovereign nations by the federal government have access to federal funds for benefits and services, such as housing, health care, children and elder services, education and environmental protection. The tribe also plans to identify land for the federal government to take into trust.

‘I have been proud to be Chief of this tribe many times in our history, and today that pride is greater than ever,’ said Tribal Chief Vernon ‘Silent Drum’ Lopez. ‘Our story has been told for generations, and today we add a new chapter. The history of our tribe could not be complete without our sovereignty, and today we can celebrate and move forward.’

[…] The Mashpee tribe first sought federal recognition in 1975, but the petition did not reach active status until October 2005, under a court ruling stipulating a final decision must be announced by March 31, 2007.

The Mashpee Wampanoag Indians’ history dates back more than 5,000 years, according to archaeologists, who acknowledge an unbroken continuum of habitation from that time to the present day. The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe met the Mayflower and aided the Pilgrims at the first Thanksgiving in 1621 after the terrible winter of 1620-1621. Once known as the South Sea Indians and later as the Praying Indians, the Mashpee nourished the Pilgrims, came to their aid and supplied them with much of the food for the first feast. In addition to a long history of contributions to the nation, members of the Mashpee Tribe have fought in every American conflict since the Revolutionary War and continue to serve our nation heroically to the present day.’

- Friday, February 16, 2007: Mashpee Wampanoag tribe receives final recognition as a sovereign nation

‘the Pasamaquody AIMS…’

‘In the 30 years of its formal history, the American Indian Movement (AIM) has given witness to a great many changes. We say formal history, because the movement existed for 500 years without a name. The leaders and members of today’s AIM never fail to remember all of those who have travelled on before, having given their talent and their lives for the survival of the people.

At the core of the movement is Indian leadership under the direction of NeeGawNwayWeeDun, Clyde H. Bellecourt, and others. Making steady progress, the movement has transformed policy making into programmes and organisations that have served Indian people in many communities. These policies have consistently been made in consultation with spiritual leaders and elders. The success of these efforts is indisputable, but perhaps even greater than the accomplishments is the vision defining what AIM stands for.

Indian people were never intended to survive the settlement of Europeans in the Western Hemisphere, our Turtle Island. With the strength of a spiritual base, AIM has been able to clearly articulate the claims of Native Nations and has had the will and intellect to put forth those claims.

The movement was founded to turn the attention of Indian people toward a renewal of spirituality which would impart the strength of resolve needed to reverse the ruinous policies of the United States, Canada, and other colonialist governments of Central and South America. At the heart of AIM is deep spirituality and a belief in the connectedness of all Indian people.

During the past thirty years, The American Indian Movement has organised communities and created opportunities for people across the Americas and Canada. AIM is headquartered in Minneapolis with chapters in many other cities, rural areas and Indian Nations.

AIM has repeatedly brought successful suits against the federal government for the protection of the rights of Native Nations guaranteed in treaties, sovereignty, the United States Constitution, and laws. The philosophy of self-determination upon which the movement is built is deeply rooted in traditional spirituality, culture, language and history. AIM develops partnerships to address the common needs of the people. Its first mandate is to ensure the fulfillment of treaties made with the United States. This is the clear and unwavering vision of The American Indian Movement.

It has not been an easy path. Spiritual leaders and elders foresaw the testing of AIM’s strength and stamina. Doubters, infiltrators, those who wished they were in the leadership, and those who didn’t want to be but wanted to tear down and take away have had their turns. No one, inside or outside the movement, has so far been able to destroy the will and strength of AIM’s solidarity. Men and women, adults and children are continuously urged to stay strong spiritually, and to always remember that the movement is greater than the accomplishments or faults of its leaders.

Inherent in the spiritual heart of AIM is knowing that the work goes on because the need goes on.

Indian people live on Mother Earth with the clear understanding that no one will assure the coming generations except ourselves. No one from the outside will do this for us. And no person among us can do it all for us, either. Self-determination must be the goal of all work. Solidarity must be the first and only defence of the members.

In November, 1972 AIM brought a caravan of Native Nation representatives to Washington, DC, to the place where dealings with Indians have taken place since 1849: the US Department of Interior. AIM put the following claims directly before the President of the United States:

1. Restoration of treaty making (ended by Congress in 1871). 2. Establishment of a treaty commission to make new treaties (with sovereign Native Nations). 3. Indian leaders to address Congress. 4. Review of treaty commitments and violations. 5. Unratified treaties to go before the Senate. 6. All Indians to be governed by treaty relations. 7. Relief for Native Nations for treaty rights violations. 8. Recognition of the right of Indians to interpret treaties. 9. Joint Congressional Committee to be formed on reconstruction of Indian relations. 10. Restoration of 110 million acres of land taken away from Native Nations by the United States. 11. Restoration of terminated rights. 12. Repeal of state jurisdiction on Native Nations. 13. Federal protection for offenses against Indians. 14. Abolishment of the Bureau of Indian Affairs. 15. Creation of a new office of Federal Indian Relations. 16. New office to remedy breakdown in the constitutionally prescribed relationships between the United States and Native Nations. 17. Native Nations to be immune to commerce regulation, taxes, trade restrictions of states. 18. Indian religious freedom and cultural integrity protected. 19. Establishment of national Indian voting with local options; free national Indian organisations from governmental controls 20. Reclaim and affirm health, housing, employment, economic development, and education for all Indian people.’

- A Brief History of the American Indian Movement, by Laura Waterman Wittstock and Elaine J. Salinas http://www.aimovement.org/ggc/history.html

‘the Pennoscot Land Claims’

‘Like other Wabanaki tribes, the Penobscot Indians were long-standing enemies of the Iroquois, particularly the Mohawk. This led them to side with the French and Algonquins in the costly war against the English and Iroquoians. The English paid out bounties for dead Penobscots, but it was European diseases (especially smallpox) that really decimated their nation, killing at least 75% of the population. Still angry with the British, the much-reduced Penobscot tribe supported the Americans in the Revolutionary War, and having picked the winning side they were not expelled from New England, remaining on reservations in their native Maine to this day. Recently the Penobscot Indians and their Passamaquoddy allies – despite formidable harassment from white neighbours – successfully argued that their treaty rights had been violated, and in 1980 received a settlement of $81 million for land that was illegally stolen from them. The Penobscot tribe was able to buy back some of their ancestral lands, and today they are a sovereign nation working to maintain their traditions, language, and self-sufficiency.’

- Native Languages of the Americas website http://www.native-languages.org/penobscot.htm

‘the Seminole Land Claims’

‘To the Most Honourable President of the United States of America
Dwight D. Eisenhower
Our Most Solemn and Respectful Greetings:

We the General Council, being the governing body, of the Mikasuki Tribe of Seminole Indians in the State of Florida, have met in formal council in the Everglades in this time of decision to our Tribe and appeal to you as a great leader of your people to dispense the justice which will preserve our freedom, property rights and independence.

We, (*)unconquered, have been at peace with your Nation for over one hundred years. Our history tells us that in the past treaties have been made with the Nations of Great Britain and Spain, recognising and entitling us to vast portions of land in what is now known as the State of Florida.

When your Nation in 1821 made a treaty with the country of Spain you agreed to recognise our property rights in such of those lands that at that time were recognised by Spain. Subsequently your Nation made treaties with our independent Nation, all of which were dishonoured by your Nation either by failure to act or by provoked wars.

Under the last treaty your Nation made with our Nation we were entitled to all of those lands as shown by the ‘Map of the Seat of War in Florida compiled by order of Brig. General Zachary Taylor, principally from the Surveys and Reconnaissances of the Officers of the U. S. Army by Capt. John MacKay and Lt. J. E. Blake’ in 1839; as well as the lands due us under various other treaties.

We, the Mikasuki Tribe of the Seminole Nation, have made no requests of any kind upon your government since the McComb Treaty of 1839. We have never asked for nor taken any assistance, in money or in any other thing, from your Nation.

We have for over one hundred years lived on lands in the Everglades, some of which were established as Indian Reservations, and for over one hundred years we have not been discontent with our relationship, because you let us alone and we left you alone. For over one hundred years we have not allowed the conduct we have received from your government to disturb us in spite of many insults to our Nation, chief of which has been the deliberate confusion of our Mikasuki Tribe of Seminole Indians, governed by our General Council, with the Muskogee Tribe of Seminole Indians in order to avoid recognition of our tribal government, independence, rights and customs.

Now, and for the first time in over one hundred years, we are obliged to address ourselves to your government. There has been filed before the Indian Claims Commission in your government, without our authority, a claim, supposedly by us, and supposedly to compensate our Tribe with money for lands taken from us by the United States Government in the past. We want no money.’

- The Historic 1954 ‘Unconquered’* Miccosukee Seminole Nation ‘Buckskin Declaration of Independence’

‘…the Mashpee Village…’

‘Most of the Mashpees’ campaign for self-government actually took place in print, not in physical struggle. During the course of the Mashpee Revolt, both supporters and opponents wrote numerous newspaper articles and pamphlets. William Apess compiled many of these documents, along with his commentary, into a book, ‘Indian Nullification’, which he published in 1835. This letter by Benjamin Hallett, the Mashpee Indians’ attorney, was published as introductory material in the book. Note on spelling: The names ‘Apess’ or ‘Apes’ and ‘Mashpee’ or ‘Marshpee’ are spelled two ways reflecting the time when information was written. Apess and Mashpee are the preferred current spellings. Apes and Marshpee are the usual early nineteenth-century spellings.

Transcription of Primary Source


To whom it may concern.

The undersigned was a native of the County of Barnstable, and was brought up near the Marshpee Indians. He always regarded them as a people grievously oppressed by the whites, and borne down by laws which made them poor and enriched other men upon their property. In fact the Marshpee Indians, to whom our laws have denied all rights of property, have a higher title to their lands than the whites have, for our forefathers claimed the soil of this State by the consent of the Indians, whose title they thus admitted was better than their own.

For a long time the Indians had been disaffected, but no one was energetic enough among them to combine them in taking measure for their rights. Every time they had petitioned the Legislature, the laws, by the management of the interested whites, had been made more severe against them. DANIEL AMOS, I believe, was the first one among them, who conceived the plan of freeing his tribe from slavery. WILLIAM APES, an Indian preacher, of the Pequod tribe, regularly ordained as a minister, came among these Indians, to preach. They invited him to assist them in getting their liberty. He had the talent they most stood in need of. He accordingly went forward, and the Indians declared that no man should take their wood off their plantation*. APES and a number of other Indians quietly unloaded a load of wood, which a Mr. SAMPSON was carting off. For this, he and some others were indicted for a riot, upon grounds extremely doubtful in law, to say the least. Every person on the jury, who said he thought the Indians ought to have their liberty, was set aside. The three Indians were convicted, and APES was imprisoned thirty days.

It was in this stage of the business, after the conviction, that I became the counsel of the Indians, and carried their claims to the Legislature, where they finally prevailed.

The persons concerned in the riot, as it was called, and imprisoned for it, I think were as justifiable in what they did, as our fathers were, who threw the tea overboard; and to the energetic movements of WILLIM APES, DANIEL AMOS and others, it was owing that an impression was made on the Legislature, which induced them to do partial justice toward this long oppressed race. The imprisonment of those men, in such a cause, I consider an honour to them, and no disgrace; no more than the confinement of our fathers, in the Jersey prison-ship*.

BENJAMIN F. HALLETT, Counsel for the Marshpee Indians. Glossary

* Jersey prison-ship – The Jersey was the most notorious of the British prison ships anchored off Brooklyn, New York during the American Revolution. * plantation – reservation; settlement with special legal status

Exact Title: Indian Nullification of the Unconstitutional Laws of Massachusetts, Relative to the Marshpee Tribe: or, the Pretended Riot Explained, 1838. Edited by Old Sturbridge Village. Author/Creator: William Apess. Publisher: Jonathan Howe, Printer. Place of Publication: Boston.’

- The Mashpee Indians Lawyer Defends Their Cause – Letter of Benjamin Hallett published in ‘Indian Nullification.’

‘Tee Hit Ton Bill’

‘MR. JUSTICE REED delivered the opinion of the Court.

This case rests upon a claim under the Fifth Amendment by petitioner, an identifiable group of American Indians of between 60 and 70 individuals residing in Alaska, for compensation for a taking by the United States of certain timber from Alaskan lands allegedly belonging to the group. 1 The area claimed is said to contain over 350,000 acres of land and 150 square miles of water. The Tee-Hit-Tons, a clan of the Tlingit Tribe, brought this suit in the Court of Claims under 28 U.S.C. 1505. The compensation claimed does not arise from any statutory direction to pay. Payment, if it can be compelled, must be based upon a constitutional right of the Indians to recover. This is not a case that is connected with any phase of the policy of the Congress, continued throughout our history, to extinguish Indian title through negotiation rather than by force, and to grant payments [348 U.S. 272, 274] from the public purse to needy descendants of exploited Indians. The legislation in support of that policy has received consistent interpretation from this Court in sympathy with its compassionate purpose. 2

Senator Plumb spoke somewhat humorously about the rights of the Indians: ‘I do not know by what tenure the Indians are there nor what ordinarily characterises their claim of title, but it will be observed that the language of the proviso I propose to amend puts them into very small quarters. I think about 2 feet by 6 to each Indian would be the proper construction of the language ‘actually in their use or occupation.’ Under the general rule of occupation applied to an Indian by a white man, that would be a tolerably limited occupation and might possibly land them in the sea.’ Id., at 530.

The line of cases adjudicating Indian rights on American soil leads to the conclusion that Indian occupancy, not specifically recognised as ownership by action authorised by Congress, may be extinguished by the Government without compensation. [21] Every American schoolboy knows that the savage tribes of this continent were deprived of their ancestral ranges by force and that, even when the Indians ceded millions of acres by treaty in return for blankets, food and trinkets, it was not a sale but the conquerors’ will that deprived them of their land. The duty that rests on this Nation was adequately phrased by Mr. Justice Jackson in his concurrence, Mr. Justice Black joining, in Northwestern Bands of Shoshone Indians v. United States, 324 U.S. 335 at page 355, 65 S.Ct. 690, 700, 89 L.Ed. 985, a case that differentiated ‘recognised’ from ‘unrecognised’ Indian title, and held the former only compensable. Id., 324 U.S. at pages 339—340, 65 S.Ct. 692, 693. His words will be found at pages 354—358 of 324 U.S., at pages 699—701, of 65 S.Ct. He ends thus:

‘We agree with Mr. Justice Reed that no legal rights are today to be recognised in the Shoshones by reason of this treaty. We agree with Mr. Justice Douglas and Mr. Justice Murphy as to their moral deserts. We do not mean to leave the impression that the two have any relation to each other. The finding that the treaty creates no legal obligations does not restrict Congress from such appropriations as its judgment dictates ‘for the health, education, and industrial advancement of said Indians’ which is the position in which Congress would find itself if we found that it did create legal obligations and tried to put a value on them.’ Id., 324 U.S. at page 358, 65 S.Ct. at page 701.

In the light of the history of Indian relations in this Nation, no other course would meet the problem of the growth of the United States except to make congressional contributions for Indian lands rather than to subject the Government to an obligation to pay the value when taken with interest to the date of payment. Our conclusion does not uphold harshness as against tenderness toward the Indians, but it leaves with Congress, where it belongs, the policy of Indian gratuities for the termination of Indian occupancy of Government-owned land rather than making compensation for its value a rigid constitutional principle.

The judgment of the Court of Claims is affirmed.

[21] The Departments of Interior, Agriculture and Justice agree with this conclusion. See Committee Print No. 12, Supplemental Reports dated January 11, 1954, on H.R. 1921, 83d Cong., 2d Sess.

Department of Interior: ‘That the Indian right of occupancy is not a property right in the accepted legal sense was clearly indicated when United States v. Alcea Band of Tillamooks, 1951, 341 U.S. 48, 71 S.Ct. 552, 95 L.Ed. 738, was reargued. The Supreme Court stated, in a per curiam decision, that the taking of lands to which Indians had a right of occupancy was not a taking within the meaning of the fifth amendment entitling the dispossessed to just compensation.

‘Since possessory rights based solely upon aboriginal occupancy or use are thus of an unusual nature, subject to the whim of the sovereign owner of the land who can give good title to third parties by extinguishing such rights, they cannot be regarded as clouds upon title in the ordinary sense of the word. Therefore, we suggest the deletion, in section 3(c) of the bill, of the words ‘upon aboriginal occupancy or title.’ P. 3.

Department of Agriculture: ‘We also concur in the belief which we understand is being expressed by the Department of the Interior that no rights presently exist on the basis of aboriginal occupancy or title. We believe that this is equally true with respect to lands within the Tongass National Forest just as it is with respect to lands elsewhere in Alaska.’ P. 7.

Department of Justice: ‘Thus, there is no legal or equitable basis for claims or rights allegedly arising from ‘aboriginal occupancy or title.’ P. 11.’

- U.S. Supreme Court TEE-HIT-TON INDIANS v. UNITED STATES, 348 U.S. 272 (1955) 348 U.S. 272
Decided February 7, 1955. http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.pl?court=US&vol=348&invol=272

‘…the Pueblos’ Holy Black Mesa…’

‘To The United States Government:

My name is Katherine Smith, a citizen of the Navajo Nation and a resident of land known as the Hopi Partitioned Lands (HPL) since 1977 – because of Public Law 93-531. According to our oral historical traditions, from the beginning of the Fifth World, the Holy People – placed us ‘the Dineh’ with Natural Laws – here within the six sacred Mountains, between the Male and Female Rivers. This defines our sacred boundaries of ‘Dinetah’. Our sacred Mountain Bundles represent this Home, and our Laws.

My main purpose for making this statement is that many people have suffered and died from stress caused by U.S. Indian relocation policies enforced by PL 93-531. Conflict was created between the Navajo/Dineh and Hopi People over land by distorting the truth of history and making the Navajos and Hopis enemies from time immemorial. This is not the case. As a result of the so-called Navajo-Hopi Land Dispute, thousands of Navajos have been relocated from their traditional lands and the remaining families live under Hopi laws, which severely restrict their access to their ancestral lands.

Over 40 years, we Dineh have endured harassment from the US Federal and Hopi Governments. The BIA Hopi police impound our livestock, arrest Navajo residents without cause, and caused injuries in doing so. Because of discrimination like this, many families have relocated and left their homeland. How they are living today? Many are homeless, countless have died from stress, and promises made to them are not being fulfilled.

At this point in history, we, Navajos have no sovereignty left. We do not have power over our own lives or stewardship over our natural resources. For the Dineh who live on HPL under the 1996 Accommodation Agreement (AA), we are without proper political representation. Furthermore, HPL residents are left with no resources for funding basic human services; no infrastructures-including community buildings, housing, decent roads, electricity, and running water, residents drive long distances to access health services, schools, jobs, haul drinking water, pick-up mail, gas, and groceries.

We call attention to this tragedy of the US Government in the name of the Hopi Tribe for the relocation of hundreds of families from their homelands, and leaving those who still remain without essential infrastructures and services. We have endured these traumas and will continue to endure them for many generations to come unless the federal government assists in re-establishing our community resources.

In making this statement, then, we appeal to the federal and tribal governments for compensation to the Hopi Partitioned Lands Dineh residents, in the form of a land base, infrastructures, and services.

These resources will provide a place where residents can come together as a community, and where they can access essential services. In aiding our journey forward, we can begin healing our pain and try to put the relocation law behind us. All we ask for in asking for these basic needs to be fulfilled is simple justice.


Katherine A. Smith, Elderly resident of Big Mountain, Arizona (Fall 2005).’

- Elder Katherine Smith To The US Government. Posted on March 13, 2006 Big Mountain Elder Katherine Smith Sends A Letter To The US Government. Black Mesa Indigenous Support http://blackmesais.org/

‘the Longest Walk’

‘Warfare against Native Americans continued until the end of the nineteenth century as the United States moved westward. This expansion was inspired by the nation’s ‘manifest destiny.’ Manifest destiny was the belief that the United States was destined or chosen to occupy all the geographical territory between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. This idea was very popular in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Native Americans were viewed as obstacles to ‘manifest destiny.’

The wars removed Native Americans from their homelands. For example, from the 1820s until the 1840s the Cherokees, Choctaws and other members of the Five Civilised Tribes were expelled from the Deep South to Oklahoma. These forced marches to Oklahoma are known as the ‘Trail of Tears’ because of the disease, suffering, and massive number of deaths the tribes experienced, and the grief they felt in leaving their homes. Some years later (1864) in the far southwest, 8,500 citizens of the Navajo Nation were forced out of their homelands. Their removal to a confinement camp in New Mexico is remembered bitterly as ‘The Long Walk.’ Throughout the nineteenth century there were countless military clashes between Native Americans and the United States army supporting white settlers.

After 1854, the United States government adopted a general policy that undermined Native-American culture by replacing traditional forms of land ownership. Now land was allotted or given to individual Native Americans. Land not parcelled out to Native Americans became government property. This land was then passed on to European Americans for railroads, homesteading, mining, and other purposes. The General Allotment Act passed in 1887 pushed this policy even harder. Native Americans were forced to conform to white culture. This Act was finally rescinded in 1934. The result was that through allotment, Native Americans lost millions of acres of their original territories.

Access to land, water, minerals, and timber are still key issues. During the 1970s and 1980s, a bitter conflict over these rights exploded on the Hopi and Navajo Reservation at Four Corners, where Arizona, Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico meet. This is the land the Navajo Nation received when released from the confinement camp following ‘The Long Walk.’ Rich deposits of coal, uranium and other valuable minerals were located in the Black Mesa and Big Mountain area. These lands, however, are sacred to the Navajo people. They are integral to their religious traditions. Strip mining for coal had already been allowed by the United States government. Uranium mines were operating in nearby areas.’

- Promised Land and Land Theft, excerpt from Joshua and the Promised Land, by Roy H. May, Jr. via the Joshua Website, a resource from The Women’s Division of the General Board of Global Ministries, United Methodist Church url. http://gbgm-umc.org/umw/Joshua/may7180.stm


‘Columbus’s Spanish royal sponsors (Ferdinand and Isabella) had promised a lifetime pension to the first man who sighted land. A few hours after midnight on October 12, 1492, Juan Rodriguez Bermeo, a lookout on the Pinta, cried out — in the bright moonlight, he had spied land ahead […]’

- Debunking the Myths: Christopher Columbus, [extract] HEADLINES: COLUMBUS DAY, 1999 Rachel’s Environment & Health Weekly no671,
Oct 7 1999. Environmental Research Foundation http://nativenewsonline.org

‘The Bull Inter Caetera (Alexander VI.) May 4, 1493 Alexander, Bishop, servant of the servants of God, to the illustrious sovereigns, our very dear son in Christ, Ferdinand, king, and our very dear daughter in Christ, Isabella, queen of Castile, Leon, Aragon, Sicily, and Granada, health and apostolic benediction.

[…] Almighty God conferred upon us in blessed Peter and of the vicarship of Jesus Christ, which we hold on earth, do by tenor of these presents, should any of said islands have been found by your envoys and captains, give, grant, and assign to you and your heirs and successors, kings of Castile and Leon, forever, together with all their dominions, cities, camps, places, and villages, and all rights, jurisdictions, and appurtenances, all islands and main lands found and to be found, discovered and to be discovered towards the west and south, by drawing and establishing a line from the Arctic pole, namely the north, to the Antarctic pole, namely the south, no matter whether the said main lands and islands are found and to be found in the direction of India or towards any other quarter, the said line to be distant one hundred leagues towards the west and south from any of the islands commonly known as the Azores and Cape Verde. With this proviso however that none of the islands and main lands, found and to be found, discovered and to be discovered, beyond that said line towards the west and south, be in the actual possession of any Christian king or prince up to the birthday of our Lord Jesus Christ just past from which the present year one thousand four hundred ninety three begins. And we make, appoint, and depute you and your said heirs and successors lords of them with full and free power, authority, and jurisdiction of every kind; with this proviso however, that by this our gift, grant, and assignment no right acquired by any Christian prince, who may be in actual possession of said islands and main lands prior to the said birthday of our Lord Jesus Christ, is hereby to be understood to be withdrawn or taking away.

Moreover we command you in virtue of holy obedience that, employing all due diligence in the premises, as you also promise–nor do we doubt your compliance therein in accordance with your loyalty and royal greatness of spirit–you should appoint to the aforesaid main lands and islands worthy, God-fearing, learned, skilled, and experienced men, in order to instruct the aforesaid inhabitants and residents in the Catholic faith and train them in good morals. Furthermore, under penalty of excommunication ‘late sententie’ to be incurred ‘ipso facto,’ should anyone thus contravene, we strictly forbid all persons of whatsoever rank, even imperial and royal, or of whatsoever estate, degree, order, or condition, to dare without your special permit or that of your aforesaid heirs and successors, to go for the purpose of trade or any other reason to the islands or main lands, found and to be found, discovered and to be discovered, towards the west and south, by drawing and establishing a line from the Arctic pole to the Antarctic pole, no matter whether the main lands and islands, found and to be found, lie in the direction of India or toward any other quarter whatsoever, the said line to be distant one hundred leagues towards the west and south, as is aforesaid, from any of the islands commonly known as the Azores and Cape Verde; apostolic constitutions and ordinances and other decrees whatsoever to the contrary notwithstanding. We trust in Him from whom empires and governments and all good things proceed, that, should you, with the Lord’s guidance, pursue this holy and praiseworthy undertaking, in a short while your hardships and endeavours will attain the most felicitous result, to the happiness and glory of all Christendom.

But inasmuch as it would be difficult to have these present letters sent to all places where desirable, we wish, and with similar accord and knowledge do decree, that to? [NB; the question mark is part of the text] copies of them, signed by the hand of a public notary commissioned therefore, and sealed with the seal of any ecclesiastical officer or ecclesiastical court, the same respect is to be shown in court and outside as well as anywhere else as would be given to these presents should they thus be exhibited or shown. Let no one, therefore, infringe, or with rash boldness contravene, this our recommendation, exhortation, requisition, gift, grant, assignment, constitution, deputation, decree, mandate, prohibition, and will. Should anyone presume to attempt this, be it known to him that he will incur the wrath of Almighty God and of the blessed apostles Peter and Paul. Given at Rome, at St. Peter’s, in the year of the incarnation of our Lord one thousand four hundred and ninety-three, the fourth of May, and the first year of our pontificate. Gratis by order of our most Holy Lord, the Pope.

June. For the referendary, For J. Bufolinus, A. de Mucciarellis, A. Santoseverino, L. Podocatharus.’

- The Papal Bull of 1493 [extract], sourced from Revoking The Papal Bull www.manataka.org

‘In 1493 Columbus returned with an invasion force of seventeen ships, appointed at his own request by the Spanish Crown to install himself as ‘viceroy and governor of [the Caribbean islands] and the mainland’ of America, a position he held until 1500. Setting up shop on the large island he called Espa–ola (today Haiti and the Dominican Republic), he promptly instituted policies of slavery (encomiendo) and systematic extermination against the native Taino population. Columbus’ programmes reduced Taino numbers from as many as eight million at the outset of his regime to about three million in 1496. Perhaps 100,000 were left by the time of the governor’s departure. His policies, however, remained, with the result that by 1514 the Spanish census of the island showed barely 22,000 Indians remaining alive. In 1542, only two hundred were recorded. Thereafter, they were considered extinct, as were Indians throughout the Caribbean Basin, an aggregate population which totalled more than fifteen million at the point of first contact with the Admiral of the Ocean Sea, as Columbus was known.’

- History Not Taught is History Forgot: Columbus’ Legacy of Genocide. Columbus and the Beginning of Genocide in the ‘New World, from Indians are Us, by Ward Churchill (Common Courage Press, 1994) Quoted in the Thistle News Collective, http://web.mit.edu/thistle/www/v9/9.11/1columbus.html

[…] He described the people, the Arawaks (called by some the Tainos) this way: ‘The people of this island and of all the other islands which I have found and seen, or have not seen, all go naked, men and women, as their mothers bore them, except that some women cover one place only with the leaf of a plant or with a net of cotton which they make for that purpose. [...] They have no iron or steel or weapons, nor are they capable of using them, although they are well-built people of handsome stature, because they are wondrous timid…. [T]hey are so artless and free with all they possess, that no one would believe it without having seen it.’ [1] ‘Of anything they have, if you ask them for it, they never say no; rather they invite the person to share it, and show as much love as if they were giving their hearts; and whether the thing be of value or of small price, at once they are content with whatever little thing of whatever kind may be given to them.’ [2]

Added note: In an ominous foreshadowing of the horrors to come, Columbus also wrote in his journal: ‘I could conquer the whole of them with fifty men, and govern them as I pleased.’ […] As Hans Koning has observed, ‘There was no real ending to the conquest of Latin America. It continued in remote forests and on far mountainsides. It is still going on in our day when miners and ranchers invade land belonging to the Amazon Indians and armed thugs occupy Indian villages in the backwoods of Central America.’ [3]

Indians were defined as subhumans, lower than animals. George Washington compared them to wolves, ‘beasts of prey’ and called for their total destruction. [4] [By 1891] …the native population had been reduced to 2.5% of its original numbers and 97.5% of the aboriginal land base had been expropriated […]

Sources: [1] David E. Stannard, American Holocaust: Columbus and the conquest of the New World, (New York: Oxford University Press, 1992). [2] Stannard, [3] Stannard, [4] Hans Koning, The Conquest of America: How the Indian Nations Lost Their Continent (New York: Monthly Review Press, 1993)

- Debunking the Myths: Christopher Columbus, [extract] Rachel’s Environment & Health Weekly No. 671, October 7 1999. Headline: Columbus Day
Environmental Research Foundation http://nativenewsonline.org

‘Manataka American Indian Council: Revoking the Bull ‘Inter Caetera’ of 1493

A movement to revoke the Papal Bull ‘Inter Caetera’ was initiated by the Indigenous Law Institute in 1992. At the Parliament of World Religions in 1994, over 60 indigenous delegates drafted a Declaration of Vision. It reads, in part:

‘We call upon the people of conscience in the Roman Catholic hierarchy to persuade Pope John II to formally revoke the Inter Caetera Bull of May 4, 1493, which will restore our fundamental human rights. That Papal document called for our Nations and Peoples to be subjugated so the Christian Empire and its doctrines would be propagated. The U.S. Supreme Court ruling Johnson v. M’Intosh (8 Wheat) 543 (in 1823) adopted the same principle of subjugation expressed in the Inter Caetera Bull. This Papal Bull has been, and continues to be, devastating to our religions, our cultures, and the survival of our populations.’

United Confederation of Taino People. Honouring Caribbean Indigenous Peoples: Past, Present and Future.

Dear Relatives:

On behalf of the United Confederation of Taino People (UCTP), we wish to extend our full support to any organisation or individuals, working toward the revocation of the Papal Bulls. We look forward to working together in solidarity with any and all who are currently engaged in this historic undertaking.

In the Spirit of Our Ancestors

Peace and Blessings,

Roberto Mucaro Borrero, President
United Confederation of Taino People
PO Box 4515
New York, NY 10163
Tel: (212)604-4186
Email: uctp_ny@hotmail.com

What are the Papal Bulls?

Papal Bulls are decrees or ‘solemn edicts’ granted by the Vatican. The bulls we are concerned with essentially sanctioned 15th century Portuguese and Spanish genocide campaigns into Africa and the Americas. These decrees established Christian dominion and subjugation of non-Christian ‘pagan’ peoples and their lands (Newcomb, 1992). The 1493 Bull ‘Inter Caetera’ granted unlimited rights to Spain, and the subsequent 1494 ‘Treaty of Tordesillas’ (inspired by the Bull ‘Inter Caetera’) divided the world in half, everything 370 leagues west of the Cape Verde islands went to Spain, everything east went to Portugal (Gottschalk, 1927).

Because the Bull ‘Inter Caetera’ concedes rights of conquest to both Spain and Portugal, the movement has focused on revoking the 1493 document (Newcomb, 1999). On October 12, 1998, over 50 indigenous and human rights advocates gathered in Honolulu, Hawaii to demand the revoking of the 1493 bull and called for it to be revoked by the year 2000. This response parallels Pope John Paul II’s call that Christianity’s 2000th anniversary be ‘a year of mercy,’ saying ‘the church will seek forgiveness,’ ‘atonement,’ and that he ‘wants the church to enter the third millennium with a clear conscience’ (Associated Press, November 28, 1998). For more information on the papal bulls movement and our annual burning event, please see our website: http://bullsburning.itgo.com/Papbull.htm.’

- Revoking the Papal Bull of 1493. www.manataka.org

‘To: the Vatican and Pope John Paul II


On November 28, 1998, Pope John Paul II called ‘Christianity’s 2000th anniversary a year of mercy,’ as reported by AP, saying ‘the church will seek forgiveness,’ ‘atonement,’ and that he ‘wants the church to enter the third millennium with a clear conscience.’ We, the undersigned, join with Indigenous Peoples everywhere in calling upon Pope John Paul II to revoke the 1493 Bull ‘Inter Caetera.’

We recognize that this initiative would be a spiritually significant step towards creating a new way of life, and a step away from the greed and subjugation in a history that has oppressed, exploited and destroyed countless numbers of Indigenous Peoples throughout the world. The Bull ‘Inter Caetera,’ like many other edicts issued before it by the Vatican, established Christian dominion and subjugation of non-Christian peoples and their lands. It has yet to be revoked.

Sincerely, The Undersigned.’

To add your name to the petition go to: Revoke the 1493 Papal Bull www.petitiononline.com/1492/

- http://www.petitiononline.com/1492/



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