Mon -11/26: Stand Indivisible with the Mashpee Wampanoag. Support their reservation reaffirmation legislation.

Learn more about the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe here.

Action #1 – Call your legislators to support H.R. 5244 /S.2628 – the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe Reservation Reaffirmation Act.

I am asking people of good will and all those concerned with justice for the indigenous people of this land — the first Americans — to stand with us in calling on Congress to protect our reservation and ensure we are don’t become the first Tribe since the dark days of the Termination Era to lose its land.” – Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Chairman Cedric Cromwell.

Their only hope now is this legislation. Please call.


Minimal script
: I’m calling from [zip code] to ask Rep. / Sen. [___] to vote YES on {Rep. =  H.R. 5244/Senate = S.2628} – The Mashpee Reservation Reaffirmation Act.

Did your legislator already cosponsor this? Check here for reps and here for senators. (NONE of our people, Reps.  Brownley or Carbajal and Sens. Feinstein and Harris, are listed yet!)

Contact your Legislators

Rep. Julia Brownley: (CA-26): DC (202) 225-5811, Oxnard (805) 379-1779, T.O. (805) 379-1779
or Rep. Salud Carbajal: (CA-24): DC (202) 225-3601, SB (805) 730-1710 SLO (805) 546-8348
Senator Feinstein: DC (202) 224-3841, LA (310) 914-7300, SF (415) 393-0707, SD (619) 231-9712, Fresno (559) 485-7430
and Senator Harris: DC (202) 224-3553, LA (213) 894-5000, SAC (916) 448-2787, Fresno (559) 497-5109, SF (415) 355-9041, SD (619) 239-3884
Other Rep./Senator Contacts: www.phoneyourrep.com

Action #2 – Contact Neil Bluhm’s fellow board members – ask them to help repair the damage he did. 

Minimal script:
Dear Members of the Board:
 You share a board table with Neil Bluhm, who, in his drive to build a casino in Brockton, MA,, managed to destroy the reservation status of the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe, the people who helped the first asylum-seekers from Europe survive back in 1637. The fallout from his single-minded actions could also destroy 128 of the 573 federally recognized tribes in the United States. We ask you to remove this man who has caused so much destruction from your board, and for every member to contact their local representatives and senators to push through HR 5244 and S.2628 – The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe Reservation Reaffirmation Act.

Thank you for your attention to this.

Board Contact information:

  • Member of the board of Trustees Emeriti of the Art Institute of Chicago:
    hcostello@artic.edu
  • Member of the board of the  Whitney Museum of American Art:
    Board of Trustees
    c/o Whitney Museum of American Art

    99 Gansevoort Street
    New York, NY 10014
  • Member of the board of Life Trustees of Northwestern University:
    trustee@northwestern.edu

Action #3 – Contact the politicians he helped support.

They have his number. Ask them to call Neil and make this right.

Barack Obama,  Hillary Clinton (Postcard – The Clinton Foundation, 1633 Broadway, 5th Floor, Ny, Ny 10019),  Dick Durbin, Melissa Bean, Rahm Emanuel, Lisa Madigan,  Lou Lang, and Michael Madigan.

Background

How did this start? Following hard on the suppression of the voting rights of Native Americans in North Dakota over a lack of street addresses, a lawsuit by a wealthy casino developer over the Indian Reorganization Act (IRA), a complicated and much-amended piece of legislation from 1934, ended up disqualifying one of the most famous tribes in American Thanksgiving lore from being considered “Indian” enough to have a reservation at all. A fate that could happen to a lot more tribes…

But it really started here…

In the beginning: In 1993, the man that would become both a failed casino owner and our current embarassment of a president, declared war on the Native Americans who crossed his business interests. People who currently wonder if age-related dementia might account for some of Trump’s worst confabulations, will discover that his amorality, racism, overweening entitlement and complete disregard for facts, is a matter of long standing. Trump started disinformation campaigns and  “Fake News!” campaigns long before his run for president. But let’s just concentrate on his war against Native Americans.

“They do not look like Indians…”: In 1993, he sat before the US House of Representatives Committee on Natural Resources, to complain that the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act gave Native Americans an unfair advantage over his own gaming enterprises. Along with completely unfounded statements that organized crime syndicates controlled Indian reservations, he added the racist twist that was to become a hallmark of his relationship with a microphone. (See video below) A lawer representing the tribe Trump was suing stated, “This guy is unbelievable. His father hands him a multimillion-dollar empire. The Native American Indians are lucky if they can give their children food, clothing and a roof over their head.”

He knows “Fake News”exists because he made it: In 2000, he responded to New York’s proposal to expand Native American casinos by secretly funding a $1 million ad campaign that expanded on his previous accusations against indigenous people, depicting the Mohawk Indian tribe of being cocaine traffickers and career criminals whose casinos would bring crime into their communities. The ads’ putative sponsor, a fictional “grass-roots, pro-family” group called the “Institute for Law and Safety”, was created by Roger Stone, (Yes, that Roger Stone) who even hired a fake leader for the equally-fictional 12,000 members. This was all discovered by the state’s lobbying commission and they imposed the largest-ever civil penalty – $250,000, on Trump and his associates and required a public apology in Albany-area news outlets. “Donald Trump, Roger Stone and Thomas Hunter … apologize if anyone was misled concerning the production and funding of the lobbying effort.” but they refused to apologize for the malicious content of the ads.

A perfect storm: In 2016, Neil Bluhm, another wealthy white developer, wanted to open a casino in a part of Massachusetts set aside for tribal gaming. He sued the Department of the Interior, demanding the agency revoke the reservation’s trust status. In September, the Trump-controlled DOI complied, informing the Mashpee-Wampanoag Tribe, the people who helped the pilgrims survive and who were present at the 1st Thanksgiving, that they no longer fit the definition of “Indian” and would be losing their reservation status. This is the first time that land held under special status for tribes has been taken out of trust since Harry Truman’s presidency. Using the DOI’s new legal argunements, 128 of the 573 federally recognized tribes in the United States could lose their reservations as well.

Erasing Obama: Under the Obama administration, over 500,000 acres of land were taken into trust. Under Trump, the slow restoration of tribal lands stolen from them by the Allotment Act of 1887 has come to a dead stop. For the Mashpee, losing their reservation status would, according to the National Congress of American Indians, “severely restrict their sovereignty and ability to exercise meaningful self-governance. In addition, the Tribe’s reservation is now threatened with disestablishment. The Tribe is effectively strippped of important ‘reliance interests’ that will affect the social service programs it provides to its citizens, as well as the economic development ventures (including gaming) that the Tribe relies on to support critical tribal government functions and provide job opportunities to its people.”

Who is this Neil Bluhm, who, hand-in-hand with the Trump administration, would cause such damage to Native people over a casino?

image.png

He’s a billionaire, although, unlike Trump, he started with little, growing up in a one-parent home. He started his career as a lawyer, then co-founded Walton Street Capital, a private equity firm and Rush Street Gaming. He is now Chairman of the Board of Midwest Gaming and Entertainment. He is a member of numerous charitable boards.

He is a Democrat who hosted President Barack Obama’s 49th birthday party, where admission was a $30,000 donation to the Democratic National Committee. He has made further donations to Democratic candidates, such as Hillary Clinton, Dick Durbin, Melissa Bean, Rahm Emanuel, Lisa Madigan, Rod Blagojevich, Lou Lang, and Michael Madigan.

We expect a lot better from Democrats, which is why we’re asking you to call everyone he’s in contact with and ask them to censure him and to work actively to fix what he broke.

Reading:

This Thanksgiving, The Trump Administration Is Taking Land From The Tribe That Welcomed The Pilgrims (Huffpo)

Donald Trump and Federal Indian Policy: ‘They Don’t Look Like Indians to Me’ (IndianCountryToday)

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