Saturday, April 27, 2013

We Carry On

With Paul de Armond's passing one week ago, colleagues and friends of his have inquired, what now? In short, we carry on--recruiting, training and nurturing researchers, analysts and activists in defending democracy. When Paul retired as Public Good Project research director in 2007 due to declining health, we began looking at how to mentor a new generation in the skills we knew they would need to carry on as we ourselves did fewer investigations and more teaching. Since Paul retired, he remained an advisor, and indeed three of our most noteworthy interventions and consults -- two in California and one in Washington -- happened since then.

As Paul's partner at Public Good Project for the last eighteen years, I know he would have been very pleased with the kind and thoughtful remarks of his peers and colleagues on his untimely passing, but I also know the last thing he would have wanted is for those of us who remain to discontinue doing what needs to be done, just because he is no longer with us. Continuity and mentoring were, and are, top priorities for us, and passing on the lessons we've learned are part of why we maintain archives of our special reports.

While we are not often in the news, we advise thought leaders in media and academia on a daily basis. In fact, in the last few months, we have been busier than ever.

Since 1996, we have shared research on the anti-Indian movement with the Center for World
Indigenous Studies, and since January 2012, we have had a working relationship with Intercontinental Cry (IC) magazine, exposing threats to the world indigenous peoples movement. Published in Canada, IC is the leading indigenous peoples magazine in the world. And, like Public Good Project, it is all volunteer run, which means we don't kowtow to foundations or corporate sponsors like many do. As the banner at IC notes, we are independent, uncompromising and authentic.

Most recently, Public Good and IC published an exclusive news article on the national offensive to
terminate tribal sovereignty, launched at a regional conference in Bellingham WA on April 6. Our forthcoming ebook Communications in Conflict -- a collaboration with IC and Wrong Kind of Green -- focuses on networks and netwar, and includes lessons learned by Public Good operatives and colleagues over the last two decades.

The collaborating and mentoring Paul initiated in 1994 now extends throughout Canada and the US, with occasional consults in bodies like the European Court of Human Rights and the United Nations.
While we still do original research and analysis, we no longer conduct field investigations, but someday that could change. For now, we mentor and consult, and adapt to social circumstances as needed. After all, that's what networks and netwar are all about.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Hate For Hire

In Take These Tribes Down, Charles Tanner Jr exposes the entrepreneurial wing of the anti-Indian movement in the US, and their current campaign to mobilize resentment against tribal governments. Following on the heels of my April 10 article at Intercontinental Cry magazine, as well as the devastating April 16 editorial at Cascadia Weekly, Tanner's report on the national anti-Indian hate campaign, launched on April 6 in Washington state, leaves no room for doubt about either the strategy or motivations behind hate for hire.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Honoring Paul de Armond

In Paul de Armond Remembered, Albion Monitor editor Jeff Elliott remarked that it was criminal Paul didn't receive a MacArthur award. For those unfamiliar with the award, it is a prize given by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation to geniuses in the arts and sciences who hold promise for making great and lasting contributions to American society. Jane Kramer at The New Yorker made a pitch to MacArthur on Paul's behalf back in 1995.

The award at the time was, I think, half a million dollars, dispensed over five years. It is perhaps an understatement to say it would have changed Paul's life. And mine. Had our work been funded, Paul could have assumed his rightful place among America's top luminaries and distinguished scholars. I could have established the Public Good Project national learning center for teaching investigative research and communication to promising researchers, analysts and activists from around the country.

Paul, however, accepted the unfairness of life with aplomb, remaining focused on developing the tools future generations of upright good citizens would need in exercising social prophylaxis against anti-democratic movements, financed in large part by fraud. Pro-democracy, anti-fraud; had there been a motto for our work, that would have been it.

Accepting our fate as what Paul called "the dog faces" -- those who fight in the trenches, while charlatans, opportunists and pious poseurs parade in shiny uniforms -- we went about this task of recruiting, training and nurturing a network of individuals to join us in this thankless but vital task. Applying The Public Health Model to social conflict, we have been successful in helping those who rise to the occasion to organize effectively against hate campaigns. In Washington, California, Texas and Montana, our proteges and colleagues have made us proud. Today, some of our most active proteges are in Canada.

While heroic figures like Paul de Armond are treasured by those who know them, their tragic fate in societies such as ours is unfortunately ordained. Until America rewards rather than marginalizes its greatest citizens, the need for our work will continue. As such, we will mourn Paul's passing, then honor him for putting his Life on the Line by organizing.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

A Giant Passes Through

Tim Johnson, editor of Cascadia Weekly, eulogizes Paul de Armond in this week's issue. The eulogy, A Giant Passes Through, is a fitting and powerful tribute. We thank all those who were part of Paul's vital work.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Christian Hate

The Chairwoman of Republican Liberty Caucus of Washington (the Ron Paul formation), is Sandi Brendale, wife of Philip Brendale--a featured speaker at the regional Anti-Indian Conference held in Bellingham on April 6. 

On a related but separate topic, Rob Boston has an article today on Ron Paul teaming up with the Christian Reconstructionists (Old Testament "stoners"). It might be interesting to know where the Brendales fit within the spectrum of Far-Right Christians. Sandi Brendale, by the way, is an Eagle Forum media expert.

I also notice that other than Cascadia Weekly and Intercontinental Cry, no other media (right-wing radio excepted) has even mentioned the hate campaign conference, let alone its implications.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Paul de Armond Remembered

Editor's note: The following responses to Life on the Line were received via e-mail. Since they comprise the reflections of Paul de Armond's working peers and colleagues, they are reprinted verbatim. We are grateful for their kind and thoughtful words.

It was Paul DeArmond who brought each of us together. As human rights organizations or individual researchers, each of us was engaged in trying to better understand the political emergence of the Patriot, Wise Use, and Militia movements.  The mid-90 convergence of these movements would pre-sage the rise of the Tea Party nationally fifteen years later.  During those two days Paul challenged us to both collaboratively research a growing threat against democracy thereby creating a space for collaboration that is still modeled today around the country.  Paul was the definition of sacrifice in the face of bigotry and intolerance and never backed down from what was right. He was a tireless fighter for rights, transparency, and democracy.  It was never a “job” for Paul but a passion and conviction that those who seek to undermine civil society should be held accountable for their actions, regardless of the physical threats directed his way.  In traveling the roads of right wing violence and intimidation, Paul’s sense of humor and wit were a welcome relief to sheer horror of bombings, death threats, and intimidation occurring at the time.  He was a colleague, friend, a fellow traveler for justice and I am better for having known him.  So is our nation. 
--Eric Ward, former field organizer at Northwest Coalition Against Malicious Harassment, publisher of The Beacon at Coalition for Human Dignity, and national field organizer at Center for New Community, Chicago

Paul was a dedicated and brilliant anti-bigotry researcher, a strident voice against injustice, and a dear friend. In his own special way, he made the world a better place. He will be greatly missed.
--Devin Burghart, vice president of Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights, Seattle

Paul de Armond is a friend, a colleague, and a strong and brilliant advocate for defending human rights. He has never let me down. His commitment to basic decency is melded into his wry and generous persona. I have learned much from him, and can never repay the debts that have accrued.  I aspire to contribute half of what he has accomplished to buttress the struggle for progressive social and political change. It is an honor to know him.
-Chip Berlet, researcher on the anti-democratic far-right in the US, and former director of Political Research Associates, Boston

Paul was committed to creating a political arena that was both unflinchingly truthful and completely safe, so that diverse opinions could be shared without fear.  In the pursuit of this goal, he courageously entered and exposed dangerous situations, documenting sub rosa activities with an unassailable level of professionalism.  His contributions reached the level of national significance.
--Sherilyn Wells, past president, Washington Environmental Council

He made great contributions to fighting right-wing forces in the US.
--Marc Brenman, former executive director, WA State Human Rights Commission

Paul was a pioneering thinker about our mutual interests in "networks and netwars."  And also a pioneering practitioner of what John Keane calls "monitory democracy."  In my view, that means Paul was ahead of his times, and his contributions will endure.
--David Ronfeldt, retired senior researcher at RAND Corporation, Santa Monica

Paul was a man with a good heart. He did courageous work to defend his community and in service to democracy. He will be missed.
--Chuck Tanner, former research director, Coalition for Human Dignity, Portland

There is no way really to describe the extent of his dedication, his energy, the incredible depth and texture of his research and the quality of his understanding. They're prodigious. But what impresses me most about Paul de Armond is his immense generosity of mind, his collegiality, his commitment to enlightening -- you could call it benign forced feeding -- all of us who are trying in one way or another to understand, with him, what is happening to our country.
---Jane Kramer, The New Yorker

He was a brilliant and good man. It was criminal that he didn't receive a MacArthur award.

--Jeff Elliott, editor, Albion Monitor

He contributed so much to the well being of this community and beyond.
--Shirley Osterhaus, past president, Whatcom Human Rights Task Force

I'm deeply saddened to learn of Paul's passing. I learned a lot from him and delighted in the time I was able to spend with him. The world has lost a great friend and advocate.
--Gene Metrick, former editor, The Western Front

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Life on the Line

Paul de Armond, the former research director at Public Good Project, passed away peacefully yesterday morning. I have received numerous heartfelt condolences from his peers and colleagues across the country, for which I am very grateful. In time, I will publish more about Paul and his life of public service, but for now I will simply direct readers and friends to information on our blog that illustrates the noble champion that he was.

The Public Good Project wiki includes a brief biography of Paul, and my reflection Looking Back describes how we met. A message from Paul's friend Jane Kramer at The New Yorker magazine was sent on the eve of Paul being awarded the 2001 Whatcom Human Rights Task Force award, presented by Kurt Russo of the Lummi Treaty Protection Task Force. 

Jane's message was read at the awards dinner by our dear friend, the late Teri Smith. In presenting the award to Paul, Kurt remarked that some people talk about human rights, but Paul put his life on the line. In 1996, Paul was a featured speaker at the Center for World Indigenous Studies conference on The Politics of Land and Bigotry. An April 16, 2013 column at Cascadia Weekly is dedicated to his memory.

p.s. Tim Johnson, editor of Cascadia Weekly, eulogizes Paul in the April 23 issue. The eulogy, A Giant Passes Through, is a fitting and powerful tribute.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Anti-Indian History

On September 20, 1992, CBS 60 Minutes aired a segment on the violence of the industry-backed Wise Use Movement, focusing on the threats, intimidation, and assaults against parents and community groups in the US who raised concerns about water and air pollution. Caught on film were movement provocateurs Chuck Cushman and Skip Richards, as well as movement propagandist Ron Arnold — all based in Washington State — and interestingly, David Macintosh, White House staff representing President Bush at a national Wise Use gathering. On behalf of President George H.W. Bush, Macintosh congratulated them for the role they were playing in shaping US policy. As Mr. Macintosh put it, “This is an important movement—one that reflects the American people’s desire to have sensible government.” Part of the footage of Clean Water, Clean Air was shot in Whatcom County, Washington where the April 6, 2013 Anti-Indian Conference organized by Skip Richards was held.

In the Pacific Northwest, the threats in the early 1990s were coming from folks stirred up by the real estate development industry against environmental protection and Indian treaties. In the Fall of 1994, the Committee for Environmental Justice (a militia front group) was hosted by Building Industry Association contract field agent Skip Richards at the Laurel Grange. Days after the Laurel Grange militia revival, there was a cross-burning and shotgun attack at a nearby migrant workers’ camp.

In January 1995, Whatcom County Council member Marlene Dawson — a real estate speculator on the Lummi Indian Reservation — urged U.S. Senator Slade Gorton to “drastically cut Lummi funding” on behalf of her and other white fee land owners. The Fee Land Owners Association (FLOA), in which Marlene was active, had been at odds with the tribe over the sovereignty of Lummi Nation to manage water resources within its own jurisdiction. To the white developers, this interfered with their ability to make easy money at the expense of the tribe.

This situation played out on numerous Indian reservations throughout the state, especially those with waterfront. Puget Sound was notorious for battles between tribes and developers. United Property Owners of Washington (UPOW), which has since become One Nation United (ONU), was the umbrella lobbying and litigation organization for the whites. Former U.S. Representative Jack Metcalf from Langley on Whidbey Island (whose father was a Silver Shirt Nazi-sympathizer during World War II) served on UPOW’s board.

Senator Gorton made a name for himself in the 1970s as the Washington State Attorney General who led the fight to deprive Washington Indian tribes of their fishing rights guaranteed under the 1855 Treaty of Point Elliot. In 1974 Lummi and Samish Indians had their boats rammed and were shot at while fishing salmon. As a U.S. Senator in 1995, Gorton took the action of threatening to deprive the Lummis of funds used to support such needs as health services for their elders and the Head Start program for their children.

After an armed stand-off on the reservation between Lummi Police and Whatcom County Sheriff’s Deputies at the site of a Lummi Nation well, Anti-Indian organizers stepped up their activities. Several Indian youth were harassed and assaulted in the nearby Ferndale School District, and placard-carrying contingents from FLOA, stirred up by Skip Richards’ and his new partner Kris Heintz’ propaganda equating property-rights with civil rights, became regulars at County Council meetings.

In May 1995, Ben Hinckle, who’d opened for Chuck Cushman at a Wise Use Rome Grange revival, hosted an open-to-the-public Citizens for Liberty meeting at Squalicum Harbor Center. Citizens for Liberty — an amalgam of adherents of the John Birch Society, Liberty Lobby, and other racist /anti-Semitic organizations — was waxing as a militia recruiting group, drawing interest from less stable members of Fee Land Owners Association and other property-rights fanatics. The new political climate boastfully created by the Building Industry Association, had clearly signaled it was time for these dormant Minutemen to prepare for action.

In September 1995, Bellingham’s KGMI radio talk-show host, Jeff Kent, led Fee Land Owners Association representatives Jeff McKay and Linnea Smith in an hour-long diatribe against the Lummis. When U.S. Senator Gorton stepped up his attack against Native sovereignty, Washington Environmental Council and the Washington Association of Churches joined the Lummis in condemning this unconscionable act of revenge for losing the fish wars in federal court as a younger man.

In November 1995, Citizens for Liberty sponsored a talk by Ron Arnold, the hate-mongering Wise Use propagandist from the Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise in Bellevue. Arnold, Merchant of Fear Alan Gottlieb’s partner, is a not so subtle master of violent rhetoric, who covers himself by claiming his calls to “kill the bastards” (environmentalists) are metaphorical. In December 1991, Arnold had met with Building Industry Association officials Art Castle and Jim Klauser to discuss formation of the Washington Property Rights Network in order to fund and organize an astroturf rebellion.

Shortly after, in May 1992, Castle, Richards and real estate developer Bill Geyer incorporated CLUE — a property rights group — that promptly paid Chuck Cushman $1,000 to incite heckler-filled crowds to storm Whatcom County Council meetings. In June, the Whatcom County Republican Central Committee endorsed their efforts, and a year later Castle and Geyer started Keystone Forum Political Action Committee that captured seven out of eight local council positions in elections that November. In March 1994, Chuck Cushman returned to help with the militia recruiting drive.

Movement entrepreneurs Arnold and Cushman — national players who mobilize ruffians to carry the banner for industry — generate violence toward Indians and environmentalists from coast to coast. According to former Western States Center researcher Jonn Lunsford, crimes including “animal mutilation, property damage, death threats, arson, assault and battery, bombings, and attempted murder” follow in their wake. In May 1988, Cushman was the featured speaker at Protect America’s Rights and Resource’s national convention in Wisconsin, held to oppose honoring Indian treaties. Shortly after his 1988 appearance, Indian fishermen there were assaulted and shot at by sports fishermen.

On November 11, 1995 (Veterans Day), a group calling itself the Washington State Militia met at the Rome Grange just outside Bellingham. As it turns out, they had already scheduled John Trochman to come speak in the near future at the Lakeway Inn in Bellingham. At the time,  John Trochman was the leader of the Militia of Montana, a heavily armed outfit that wasn’t above robbing banks, storming county jails to bust out their buddies, and engaging in shoot-outs with state police when pulled over for traffic infractions.

After intervention by church and human rights leaders in Bellingham and Seattle, the management of the Bellingham Lakeway Inn, cancelled the Trochman reservation, forcing the militia recruiters to relocate their event to Mt. Vernon, thirty miles south. With this advance warning, human rights activists in Skagit County merged with those from Whatcom County in protest on the day of the big event.

Eric Ward of the Northwest Coalition Against Malicious Harassment was terrified with, “the idea of militias being able to utilize the electoral force of Wise Use groups” to legitimize racist based policies regionally and nationally. In Whatcom, Snohomish, and Chelan Counties, this epidemic was in full swing.

July 1996 brought several surprises to Whatcom County, not the least of which was a press conference by the U.S. Department of Justice, announcing the bust of eight local individuals for involvement in bomb-making and illegal modification of firearms into fully-automatic weapons—machine guns.

In August 1996, after four and a half years of cover-up by the Bellingham Herald, the Wise Use/militia connection was finally revealed in the Portland Oregonian. This was soon followed by an article in the Anacortes American, the first coverage by a paper inside the Washington State legislative district Skip Richards hoped to represent.

In October, trailing distantly in the polls, candidate Richards chose to play the race card in the general election, insinuating in his campaign literature that the Indians (presumably through guarding their treaty rights) were undermining all that the white people had struggled to build in Whatcom County. His associate Bill Geyer’s County Executive campaign also flopped, in spite of the Herald’s refusal to connect him to Wise Use. The third member of the local trio who’d initiated the faux property-rights rebellion (as well as a key figure in the Washington Property Rights Network that subverted elections in 14 counties) — Building Industry Association executive Art Castle — relocated to the Kitsap Peninsula.

On January 15, 1997, the trial of eight Washington State Militia members began in federal court in Seattle. One of their secretly recorded conversations, introduced as evidence, included a discussion about a route through the heavily wooded Whatcom Falls Park to the rear of the home of Whatcom Human Rights Task Force Chair Damani Johnson. Some of the defendants were set free due to a juror’s inability to follow the judge’s instructions; others went to prison for four years. Bellingham Herald crime reporter, Cathy Logg — who courageously covered the arrests and had her home and computer broken into — eventually moved away from Whatcom County.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Understanding Their Roles

Debra Harry, executive director of Indigenous Peoples Council on Biocolonialism, and Arthur Manuel, chairman of Indigenous Network on Economies and Trade, are highly respected indigenous NGO advocates, as is Andrea Carmen, executive director of International Indian Treaty Council. As professional lobbyists at UN agencies, their voices bring important issues to the attention of diplomats and bureaucrats that have influence over UN policy.

Indeed, Debra Harry was appointed  by the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues to the Global Coordinating Group responsible for organizing the North American Indigenous Peoples Preparatory Meeting in advance of the Global Conference in Norway this June, and the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples to take place in New York in September 2014. Debra Harry and Arthur Manuel served as Co-Coordinators of the North American meeting, while Andrea Carmen is charged with reporting on the meeting in May at a UN-sponsored gathering in Madrid.

The problem, as I noted in my editorial The Right Direction, is that Debra Harry and Arthur Manuel's misleading letter to the North American Indigenous Peoples Caucus on April 11 is apparently intended to impress the UN with a consensus report that has no basis in fact. As such, they are only digging themselves in deeper by continuing with this farce. Perhaps their funding or reputations are threatened by their failure to achieve legitimate consensus at the North American meeting in Sycuan, but trying to conduct a cover-up after the fact will only make it worse. Someone needs to take them aside and recommend they rethink their misguided plan.

Making between $40,000 and $50,000 a year salaries, Harry and Carmen are hardly in the big leagues of NGOs financially, but with travel budgets for international conferences, they are nevertheless accustomed to a lifestyle grassroots indigenous activists can only dream of. While I don't know Manuel's income, he, too, seems able to participate in this milieu. While I am not suggesting any of them don't earn their salaries, I am proposing that their determination to continue in their distinguished international roles at the UN and elsewhere has perhaps blinded them to the impropriety of their current conduct regarding the World Conference process. Admitting their errors might not cost them their jobs, but it might affect their prestige.

Whatever their motivations, it needs to be made clear to Harry, Manuel and Carmen that their fraud, if continued, will not go unscrutinized. If they want their misfeasance to become malfeasance, all they have to do is stay on their present trajectory. At present, they don't appear to understand the ramifications of their ill-considered decision.

In response to Harry and Manuel's misleading April 11 letter, Kent Lebsock of Owe Aku International Justice Project wrote  "I guess there's nothing we can say that will stop this horribly distorted process but it's important to point out again that NAIPC speaks only for those who signed onto the report and/or statement and no one else.  There is no consensus, even within the so-called caucus, little alone amongst the nations and communities of Red Nations in North America.  I hope you all can find a way to respect that and the many voices that have voiced their objections to the process and the content."  While Lebsock is correct in calling the process blessed by Harry and Manuel horribly distorted, he is perhaps surrendering too soon.

Given that Debra Harry serves on the Global Coordinating Group at the discretion of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, and given that the preparatory meetings for the UN World Conference on Indigenous Peoples is organized under its auspices as authorized by the UN General Assembly, there is a lot Lebsock and other indigenous voices can say to the president of that body. In terms of contact, the President of the UN General Assembly has already appointed Mr. John Henriksen, the international representative of the Sami Parliament of Norway, to facilitate the modalities and arrangements for the World Conference, including the substantive participation of indigenous peoples.

While there's no guarantee Henriksen can resolve the present impasse, he might be able to help argue for a more authentic and democratic process from here on out, which would help indigenous nations immensely as they prepare their diplomatic missions to Norway and New York. It might even help to generate discussion at the Permanent Forum meeting in Madrid. 

As I wrote in my editorial Making It Happen, modern states have served some purposes well, others not so. Since vital answers to humankind's needs are apparently not coming from within the modern state apparatus, one place that is being investigated is within traditional governing systems of indigenous nations.  As we become increasingly adrift from our democratic moorings, perhaps we would benefit from taking stock of how we arrived at this impasse, and from reassessing the utility of modern states and the international institutions they in turn created.

Suffice to say that human development and international relations haven’t come to an end; nor is the United Nations, as an institution, the be all and end all when it comes to global organizations. We can create additional ones as we see fit. As we work to create a democratized international community, using our imaginations intelligently and constructively will create new opportunities for peaceful and more effective means of solving problems and resolving conflict. Coupled with our growing awareness of how we are governed and the need for change, all that is left is our resolve and commitment to making it happen.

As I noted in Getting It Right,  indigenous nations and modern states are in the process of resetting their relationship within the context of the evolving international human rights regime, and due to this resetting of relationships, the role of indigenous NGOs will also change. As each indigenous nation reasserts its sovereignty in self-determining its internal affairs and territorial jurisdiction, the indigenous NGOs will serve more as deliberating bodies and less as lobbying institutions.

While they played a vital role in helping modern states and indigenous nations lay the groundwork to end the colonial relationship that resulted from power imbalances that accrued between the time of 18th Century treaty-making and the present, they will soon need to serve more in a research and education mode, in order for their constituent indigenous governing bodies to resume their full responsibilities, unencumbered by the misperceptions dominant society and mainstream media associate with such notions as dominion and plenary power.

As indigenous nations reacquire their international legal status and resume their concordant responsibilities, they will continue to regroup into more appropriate regional bodies better-suited to their histories and needs, renewing their kinship-based indigenous identities and rejecting the institutional identities imposed on them by the legal constructs of colonial theories, boundaries and jurisdictions.

While the growing pains of political evolution are no doubt uncomfortable for those who’ve grown accustomed to colonial corporate states, the new attire of respectful relations will in time be a better fit. Someday — when tribes, institutions, markets and networks better understand their roles — we will perhaps wonder how we ever managed to get it so wrong.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Right Direction

As I observed in See the Light, the North American Indigenous Peoples Caucus is in a quandary over how to proceed after its failure to achieve a consensus at its March 1 meeting in Sycuan. With the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues expecting a report from NAIPC before its document consolidation meeting next month in Madrid, some of the NGOs participating in the NAIPC don’t know what to do.

With the Global Preparatory Conference looming in Alta, Norway in June, some NGO leaders have suggested making something up–creating the illusion of consensus where none exists. Alas, that, too, is an idea doomed in advance. While it might be uncomfortable for some to admit, Sycuan was a failure, and that is the only honest thing to report.

As evidenced by the official invitation, sent from NAIPC Co-Coordinators Debra Harry and Arthur Manuel to indigenous peoples and nations for the North American Indigenous Peoples Preparatory Meeting in Sycuan, this preparatory meeting for the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples was to be held on February 28 and March 1.

Also in the invitation, is notice of a separate meeting for the NAIPC to be held March 2 and 3. There is no clarification of the different functions of the two separate meetings, nor why the caucus would be in charge of both events if one event was for both the caucus and tribal governing authorities, and one event was for the caucus only.

Nor is there any description of what the caucus is, or how it derived its powers. If ever there was a recipe for confusion, this invitation would be it.

Now that the meeting in Sycuan and its aftermath have blown up in Harry and Manuel’s faces, they seem to be attempting to salvage their failure as the coordinators at Sycuan by promoting the idea that the decisions made by a small group of NGOs at the exclusive March 2 and 3 meeting is somehow representative of North American Indigenous Peoples. It is not, and no amount of sophistry can change that. They can send their report to the UN, and pretend it is legitimate, but that would in essence be fraud.

Sometimes NGOs are so results-driven that they can’t imagine saying something so simple as we failed; we reached no consensus. Yet, that is what is necessary in order to move forward. Admit failure, then ask yourself why. That way, you can avoid failing again. It’s not the end of the world.

As Oldwoman Bear remarks at the NAIPC list serv, good points  have been raised regarding a need to look at the way things are done. “As Treaty Nations,” she states, “we have long been concerned about the issue of Free, Prior and Informed Consent [and that] applies not only to state governments but to organizations that attempt to speak for Indigenous Nations without proper authorization. We are not an organization”, she says, ” we are Nations.”

As Oldwoman Bear reminds them,  “Indigenous Peoples are spiritual peoples – we always have to remember who we are – as spiritual peoples – we have asked spirits to help us with the work ahead – to my mind – it is too late to start thinking about changing that decision. If we start playing around with the spirits – we can cause problems for ourselves and the future generations – so it is with great respect that I write this email – think about our future generations – think about what will happen if we constantly  change our minds after the gatherings because things did not go your way – think about it – because it might be the right direction that cannot be seen in the immediate time after the gathering – so take the time and reflect – we need to think together for the future generations – that was the meaning of the ceremonies at the beginning of the gathering – it was to bring our minds together – it was not a “ceremony” for the sake of a “ceremony” – it was for a purpose – it is for us to understand and work with it. ”

As Richard C. Powless of Wolf Clan, Mohawk Nation suggests, “I still think its time we started to push for change in the international/UN/Indigenous process. Why,” he asks, “are we content to be forced to come up with just ONE position for the over 100+ Indigenous Governments in North America? The UN member states aren’t forced to come up with one position. Its time we pushed for each Indigenous Government to speak for themselves.”

Powless goes on to say, “The issue of who is or represents an Indigenous Government is our business and in itself will not be an easy task and will take some time to sort out,  but it won’t happen if it doesn’t start. Maybe an interim solution,” he suggests, “is to continue with the NA Indigenous Peoples forum but also to start a North American Indigenous Governments’ forum.”

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Anti-Indian Conference

The April 6, 2013 NW Round-Up Regional Educational Conference held at the Lakeway Inn in Bellingham, Washington was sponsored by the foremost Anti-Indian organization in the United States. Citizens Equal Rights Alliance is one of several Anti-Indian organizations operating in Washington State.

As the registration form for the conference states, the conference was for learning about how to fight American Indian fee to trust, casino gambling, water rights, land acquisitions and sovereignty. CERA vice chair Butch Cranford of Plymouth, California and CERA board member Elaine Willman from Hobart, Wisconsin were featured speakers at the Bellingham conference on Federal Indian Policy Issues.

Interviewed live from the April 6 CERA conference on Far-Right Christian Anti-Indian Radio KGMI, Willman characterized tribes as casino bullies who now want half the water, stating that the only way to stop them is to strengthen states’ rights and private property rights and get rid of Federal Indian Policy.

Philip Brendale, another speaker at the April 6 CERA conference in Bellingham, has considerable experience fighting tribal sovereignty, as evidenced by this U.S. Supreme Court case against Yakama Indian Nation. Brendale is noted in this article from the Klamath River Basin water dispute, as is Elaine Willman. Interviewed by Tea Party activist Kris Halterman on the same live radio podcast with Willman, Brendale said tribal fishing rights should be eliminated, along with other treaty rights.

On the March 30 episode of Halterman's program Saturday Morning Live, Willman stated that secret collusion between Washington State, the Federal Government and Indian tribes through government to government relations -- otherwise known as Tribal Centennial Accords -- is, "taking down Washington State." She closed by saying that the April 6 CERA conference would teach local officials and citizens how to take on tribal governments.

On a November 3, 2012 KGMI podcast about Native American tribes, Willman distorted American Indian treaty history beyond recognition, stating that their special, taxpayer-funded, race-based perks allow them to, “confiscate natural resources.” Not satisfied with calling for the elimination of tribal sovereignty, Willman went on to state that, “Tribalism is socialism [and] has no place in our country!”

Brendale’s wife is a lobbyist and media expert with Eagle Forum, a Far-Right Christian organization. This phenomenon of Free Market, Far-Right Christian Indians used by white supremacists for cover in subverting tribal sovereignty is a sad but true aspect of American political insanity.

Using Indians who oppose tribal sovereignty as speakers is a key strategy of CERA, giving them cover from accusations of being white supremacist. As Brendale admits in this video where he was helping to fight the Nisqually Tribe, his mission is to “take down federal Indian policy.”

Reverend Tom Grey is an anti-gambling missionary. He might have been the Tom Grey who was listed as a speaker at the CERA conference in Bellingham.

Lana Marcussen, CERA legal counsel, asserts destroying tribal sovereignty is a civil rights struggle to free the Indians. As this article shows, she is a states’ rights, anti-sovereignty advocate. She has been active in fighting tribes in California.

The local organizers for the Anti-Indian conference were CERA board member Tom Williams of Lynden, Washington and Skip Richards, a Bellingham consultant with a twenty-year history of Anti-Indian organizing as both a property-rights advocate and a collaborator with Christian Patriot militias. His photo on his LinkedIn page is from a militia recruiting meeting he hosted at the Laurel Grange in October 1994.

On the March 30 episode of Wealth Wake Up with KGMI’s Dick Donahue, Tom Williams said the facade of tribal sovereignty allows Indians citizenship privileges without paying taxes. Accentuating his ignorance about treaties, taxation and Indian law, Williams revealed his underlying bigotry, stating, “We should not support them; they should be citizens like the rest of us.”

Skip Richards got his start as a merchant of fear in the early 1990s when he was a paid field agent provocateur of the Building Industry Association, which had teamed up with the Washington Association of Realtors to undermine Washington State’s Growth Management Act. From 1992 to 1996, the industry funded and organized field agent provocateurs who went on a rampage inciting vigilantism against Native Americans and environmentalists in 14 counties, culminating in the arrest and conviction of eight individuals on federal firearms and explosives charges.

Sometimes the spear-carriers, those who believe the hoax and get excited enough to threaten opponents, are looking for a windfall economic opportunity. But the only ones who usually profit from these hate campaigns are the social movement entrepreneurs and their industry backers. What you’ll often see in their aftermath is a rightward or criminal shift in public policy rules and regulations as a result of the consolidation or seizure of political power. In a July 1996 High Country News interview, Skip Richards stated the two things he needed to know in politics were, "who to threaten and who to bribe."

The other local Anti-Indian activist on the event billing was Marlene Dawson. In January 1995, as a Whatcom County Council member, Marlene — wife of a realtor on the Lummi Indian Reservation — urged U.S. Senator Slade Gorton to “drastically cut Lummi funding” on behalf of her and other white fee land owners. The Fee Land Owners Association (FLOA), in which Mrs. Dawson was active, had been at odds with the tribe over the sovereignty of Lummi Nation to manage water resources within its own jurisdiction. To the white developers, this interfered with their ability to make easy money at the expense of the tribe. Had Dawson succeeded in her vindictiveness, drastic cuts to Lummi funding could have imperiled such services as Head Start for their kids, as well as elder care programs.

For background on Richards, readers might find the following Public Good Project special reports useful.
Reign of Terror
Common Sense About the Richards Militia Controversy
Militia and CLUE Activity in Whatcom and Snohomish Counties
Skip Richards’ Years of Contact with Christian Patriot Militias
Wise Use in Northern Puget Sound
A Not So Distant Mirror

Anti-Indian Organizations in Washington State

CAPR Citizens Alliance for Property Rights
CDFE Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise
CERA Citizens Equal Rights Alliance
CERF Citizens Equal Rights Foundation
CSE Citizens for Safety and Environment
EFF Evergreen Freedom Foundation
IJ Institute for Justice
ONU One Nation United
PEP Private Enterprise Project
WFB Washington Farm Bureau
WPC Washington Policy Center

Anti-Indian Roster by State

Tony Bowman, Holbrook–CERF
GB Saucerman, Phoenix–CERA
Dennis Williams, Fort Defiance–CERA
Butch Cranford, Plymouth—CERA
Rheba Hewitt, San Bernardino—ONU
Wally J Leimgruber, El Centro–ONU
Chip Worthington, Rohnert Park—ONU
Nicholas H Mullane, North Stonington–ONU
Frank Messersmith, Crawfordville–ONU
John Furbee, Harrison–ONU
Daniel M Johnson, Nez Perce–ONU
Rich Porter, Paxton–ONU
Carol Kelly, Plymouth—CERA
Kim Shea, Carver–CERA
Clare Fitz, Onamia–CERF
Howard B Hanson, Minneapolis—CERA
Chris Kortlander, Garyowen–CERA
Naomi Brummond, Roselie—CERA
Joel Lamplot, Pender–CERA
New Mexico
Charlotte Mitchell, Jemez Pueblo—CERA
New York
Judy Bachman, Vernon—CERA
Richard Tallcot, Union Springs—CERA
Jerry Titus, Little Valley—CERA
David Vickers, Erieville—ONU/UCE
Dick Platfoot, Wapakoneta–ONU
Larry Boggs—ONU
Mike Cantrell–ONU
Marla R Peek, Oklahoma City–ONU
LeeAnn Ragains, Kingfisher—CERA
Mickey Thompson–ONU
David Jacques, Winston–ONU
South Dakota
Jim Petik, Keldron—CERA
Darrell Smith, Mobridge–CERF
Jackie Allen, Toppenish—CERA
Elizabeth A Campbell, Seattle—ONU
Janet Devlin—CSE
Trent England–EFF
John Fleming–GOP
George Garland, Gig Harbor—ONU
Paul Guppy—WPC
Steve Hammond–CAPR
James Johnston, Oak Harbor–ONU
Kim Halvorson, Marysville—ONU
Tom and Carol Lewis–ONU
Barbara Lindsay, Tacoma—ONU
Fairalee Marcusen–ONU
Linda Matson—ONU/PEP
William Maurer–IJ
Tom and Patty Mitchell, Marysville–ONU
Alan Montgomery, Seattle—ONU
Glen Morgan—EFF
Doug Olson–ONU
Kent Pullen–ONU
Cynthia Rasmussen, Port Ludlow–ONU
Marilyn Sherry, Normandy Park—ONU
Dennis Swanson—CSE
Brent Warwick—CSE
Dan Wood—WFB
Bob Williams–EFF
Tom Williams, Lynden—CERA
Lyle Zeller–CSE
Curt Knoke, Gresham—CERA/CERF
Marianne D Pender, Keshena–ONU
Scott Seaborne, Neenah—CERA
Nancy Smeleer, Menominee–ONU
Elaine Willman, Hobart—CERA


CAPR Citizens Alliance for Property Rights
CERA Citizens Equal Rights Alliance
CERF Citizens Equal Rights Foundation
CSE Citizens for Safety and Environment
EFF Evergreen Freedom Foundation
GOP Republican Party
IJ Institute for Justice
ONU One Nation United
PEP Private Enterprise Project
UCE Upstate Citizens for Equality
WFB Washington Farm Bureau
WPC Washington Policy Center

Sunday, April 07, 2013

Deceitful and Treacherous

As I noted in my editorial Fighting Intelligently, confronting the status quo at the UN and in each of its member states can only succeed if the indigenous peoples movement strengthens indigenous nations. While NGO activism is fine, it is only useful if it supports indigenous governance. When this activism gets stuck in an obstructionist role, it becomes an impediment to indigenous self-determination.

The Center for World Indigenous Studies (CWIS), International Indian Treaty Council (IITC), and Indian Law Resource Center (ILRC) are experienced NGOs that strengthen indigenous nations by challenging the status quo at the UN, as well as by providing essential research to indigenous governing authorities.

One aspect of the divide within the indigenous peoples movement that contributed to the shambles in Sycuan at the March 1 North American Preparatory Meeting for the 2014 World Conference on Indigenous Peoples, was that some American indigenous NGOs are so locked into symbolic actions, moral theatrics and ideological purity that they don’t want to be left behind, or be overshadowed by indigenous nations that are preparing to assert jurisdiction over territories and governance that is guaranteed to be a rough fight, both at the UN and within each of its member states. Some NGOs worry that foundation funding might dry up if they engage in anything more serious than moral theatrics.

While these NGOs have made contributions to public consciousness, their insecurity cannot be allowed to get in the way of indigenous sovereignty. Sycuan sorted some of that out, but these differences come with the territory, so we have to expect adjustments will continue between recognized and customary governments, as well as NGOs. There’s no way around it.

For NGO activists who limit themselves to the roles of provocateur and saboteur, indigenous institutions like the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians (ATNI) and United South and Eastern Tribes (USET) are sometimes viewed as adversaries. While it is fine to discuss differences of opinion on indigenous institutional policies, subverting democratic process and sabotaging institutional diplomacy — by provoking dishonest dissension — serves no useful purpose, other than to promote instigators into the limelight.

Glenn T. Morris, University of Colorado associate professor of political science, recently submitted an incoherent, polemic response to my editorial Report from Sycuan, an account of the North American Preparatory Meeting for the 2014 UN World Conference on Indigenous Peoples. From what I’ve been able to determine, Morris was one of the instigators who disrupted the gathering.

Along with his cohort Ward Churchill, who was fired by the University of Colorado for academic misconduct, Morris was expelled from the International Indian Treaty Council in 1986 for disruptive behavior. Seven years later, the American Indian Movement National Board of Directors expelled Churchill and Morris from AIM.

The AIM Grand Governing Council described Morris as deceitful and treacherous. “Using the American Indian Movement to give them credibility, cover and access,” says the Grand Council, “they [Churchill and Morris] have been able to infiltrate other organizations and movements nationally and internationally.”

The AIM Grand Governing Council urges its friends and supporters to expose and isolate Churchill and Morris, and help undo the harm they’ve inflicted on naive innocents in both academic and activist milieus.

Morris, an attorney, has built a career out of choreographed belligerence, and seems stuck in his obstructionist role. Evidently, his MO is so ingrained, he is incapable of seeing how his delinquent behavior is an impediment to the indigenous peoples movement, of which he purports to be a champion. His distortive response to my editorial helps to illustrate the tenor of some indigenous ideologues that challenges the movement’s success.

The target of Morris’ malevolence at Sycuan, Fawn Sharp, is well-known in Native American politics. As this Department of Interior Commission on Indian Trust Administration and Reform bio illustrates, Sharp is one of the top American Indian political leaders in the United States. As a professor of political science — specializing in the U.S. Political System and Federal Indian Law — Morris would have been well aware of who he was attacking.
Fawn Sharp, endorsed by the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians (ATNI) as an official North American Delegate to the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples Indigenous Global Coordinating Group(GCG), had previously been invited by the National Congress of American Indians to submit a letter of interest in serving on the GCG. The endorsement by ATNI — which took place at its Winter 2013 conference in January — was a matter of public record, easily located by a quick Google search online. Professor Morris was likely aware of the support for Ms. Sharp by NCAI and ATNI, prior to his sabotaging of the meeting a month later.
In the Rocky Mountain News special report on the investigation of Ward Churchill, Churchill’s antagonism toward the National Congress of American Indians is revealed as a personal resentment based on his inability to prove he has a single American Indian ancestor, even though he claimed Cherokee and Creek ancestry on his application at the University of Colorado Boulder, and received appointments, promotions and privileges based on that statement. While this issue might not be a factor in Morris’ case, his open hostility toward NCAI and indigenous governing authorities makes one wonder if – as a protégé of Churchill’s – Morris learned to game the affirmative action system at the university, then use his academic stature to attack indigenous institutions for personal aggrandizement. It certainly fits with his behavior.
Morris’ attack — by his own admission — was for the purpose of preventing Ms. Sharp from becoming a member of the Global Coordinating Group for the Indigenous Peoples Conference in Norway.  What Morris’ agenda is in doing so remains to be revealed, but the net result so far is to deprive the dysfunctional WCIP process of effective leadership. Given Morris’ intentional attack on one of the most capable indigenous women in North America, his twisted accusation of me marginalizing indigenous women rings hollow.
As noted by the Indian Law Resource Center two weeks prior to the March 1 meeting in Sycuan, indigenous nations and tribes are not obligated to work through the ad hoc North American Indigenous Peoples Caucus. They can participate in the Global Preparatory Conference in Norway and the World Conference in New York as indigenous governing authorities. They don’t need accreditation by indigenous NGOs to attend. Yet, while they are not obliged to work through the caucus, it is useful for them to speak with the NGO participants, if for no other reason, to clarify indigenous roles and responsibilities distorted by opportunists and troublemakers like Morris.

As a result of the chaos at Sycuan, the Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska on April 2 challenged the validity of the NAIPC report on the grounds that the NAIPC failed to complete its agenda on the official date set for the meeting in Sycuan, and since the day ended with disagreement on the process as well as content, no consensus therefore exists. Additionally, they noted that “the intentional frustration by a minority of NAIPC participants of reasonable requests for an equitable method for assessing whether consensus existed or not among all NAIPC participants was a primary reason the NAIPC failed to complete its agenda or issue a valid report.”

The Citizen Potawatomi Nation finds that the NAIPC report contains serious misstatements of facts and does not accurately reflect the decisions made by the caucus. The Potawatomi claim the report does not reflect the views of many Indian governments that participated in the caucus, that the report includes many serious misrepresentations, and “demonstrates that the caucus procedures and actions are undemocratic and unreasonable.”

In conclusion, the Citizen Potawatomi Nation repudiates the report in its entirety, and although selected to be one of the delegates of the caucus to the meeting in Alta, Norway, will not, for the above reasons, participate. The Citizen Potawatomi Nation will, however, continue to participate in the preparations for the UN World Conference in collaboration with other indigenous nations, peoples, and organizations.

As noted in his March 29 correspondence to the NAIPC, Derrick Beetso, staff attorney at the National Congress of American Indians states, “The portion of the meeting intended to prepare for the HLP-WCIP was advertized as being one day, but these issues carried over for all three days, and many of those present had to leave before the conclusion of this meeting, including NCAI. By the time the issues in this report were submitted for approval, only a small percentage of representatives were still present. Therefore, this document does not necessarily reflect consensus of those listed.”

International Indian Treaty Council executive director Andrea Carmen’s April 3 proposal to GCG appointees Debra Harry and Kenneth Deer and the NAIPC to separate content from process shows we were on target with our Report from Sycuan, and perhaps offers a partial remedial solution for the NGO participants who might have been confused about the purpose of the North American Preparatory Meeting.

After years of advocating for resolutions by the UNPFII, NAIPC found itself at Sycuan in the position of having to deal with a different process, specifically geared toward participation and decision-making that requires rules and procedures in order to bring legitimate and credible recommendations to the WCIP.

For some advocacy NGOs that are not advisory to indigenous governing authorities, this discipline was a foreign concept. To IITC, CWIS and ILRC, the undisciplined conduct by these NGOs signaled a source of weakness in the UN-established process that could undermine UNDRIP. While Carmen’s proposal might be considered by NAIPC as a way forward, despite the harm caused by a combination of poor NAIPC leadership and the intentional frustration by some of the democratic process, the sad fact remains that the calculated sabotage by Morris, et al was successful in generating animosity and mobilizing resentment at a time when unity was sorely needed. As such, one has to wonder whose interests he really serves.

Thursday, April 04, 2013

Communications Management Units

While Americans have become inured to illegal abductions, torture and murders of innocents by the CIA in legal black holes like Afghanistan, Poland and Macedonia, for most people in the US, these human rights violations are something that only happens elsewhere. But as whistle-blowing and civil disobedience become increasingly targeted for harassment by law enforcement in the US, torture of Americans targeted for their political beliefs is becoming standard procedure for the U.S. Department of Justice. As Will Potter reports, there is a black hole in the land of the free.