Thursday, January 15, 2009

Schaghticoke to rally against state neglect

Photo courtesy Matt Bigos, member Schaghticoke Tribal Nation

A non-Indian intruder on the Scahghticoke Tribal Nation's reservation in Kent, Conn., has been desecrating sacred burial sites, tearing down trees, gouging out roads close to endangered timber rattlesnake dens, the tribe's symbolic protector, causing extensive soil erosion and destruction of streams and a vernal pool for more than a year.

Destruction on reservation is healing tribal rift
By Gale Courey Toensing
Story Published: Jan 9, 2009
Story Updated: Jan 9, 2009
SCHAGHTICOKE RESERVATION, Conn. – The Schaghticoke Tribal Nation will march on the state capitol on the fifth anniversary of its reversed federal acknowledgement to protest the refusal to protect the tribe’s reservation land.The tribe has put out a call to its 300-plus members, to the communities of northeastern tribes and any non-tribal supporters to gather on the south side of the state capitol building and the legislative office building Jan. 29 between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. to protest the state’s refusal to stop Michael Rost, a non-Schaghticoke trespasser, from cutting down trees, bulldozing roads and desecrating sacred burial sites on the tribe’s 400-acre reservation on Schaghticoke Mountain in Kent, Conn., said tribal member Katherine Saunders. The state claims its hands are tied because of a “leadership conflict"..."Rost was arrested in 2004 for the very same thing he’s doing now, however, now the state will not intervene in assisting Schaghticoke with a cease and desist order. We’ve asked through e-mail, snail mails, phone calls and they basically say they won’t help,” Saunders said.

Why is the state refusing to help?

“Part of me believes that through the attorney general the state doesn’t want to recognize the Schaghticoke as a state tribe any longer and I think they’re trying to basically take away any rights we have by committing cultural genocide to our tribe.”

Tribal members have turned to each other, and technology for support. They wrote and posted a petition at which they intend to present to Gov. Jodi Rell at the rally.The petition calls on the governor “to investigate and order an immediate halt to the hate crimes, destruction, desecration of sacred lands and encroachment” that continues despite the tribe’s requests for help.“We are deeply concerned about the overwhelming, negative environmental impact affecting our ancestral lands,” the petition states. “Much of this devastation includes: severing, ripping and cutting down trees which cause the unnecessary fragmentation of forest blocks, selling timber off an Indian reservation, quarrying large boulders, destroying endangered species and their habitats, and purposely inflicting irreparable harm to sacred land.””


James Gage said...

I applaud the Tribe's outreach to the media and general public as well as it protest & petition efforts. These are important efforts.

The various statements about the situation state the graves have been disturbed, critical wildlife habitat damage, and other legal violations. Unfortunately, at both the local and state levels these statements have little force. Such violations need to documented by professional licensed experts or by law enforcement (environmental police, local wetlands conservation officer, etc). In many cases, the local town or state officials have no vested interested and helping you, and therefore one needs to hire your own experts. In this situation, a professional archaeologist to document the destruction of grave sites, and a wetlands/biologist consultant to documented environmental violations. Finally, one needs to retain an attorney advise you on appropriate legal options including pursuing a court injunction against the landowner and/or the land developer.

Finally, it is very tempting to make public statements attacking the character and reputation of the land developer. However, the land developer's attorney will use these statements to file charges of liabling his/her client. This is a very common strategy to derail or otherwise confuse the situation. The other common tactic is to press trespassing charges. Again, this speaks for the need for good legal advice to guide ones actions.

I realize this is an expensive route, but, it is hard won advice from my many years of pursuing local environmental problems in my town.

James Gage

pwax said...

Could someone go get pictures of rock piles on that land?
- Pete