CAPE WIND'S WAR AGAINST INDIANS
A New Indian War
Something smells fishy about the recently released Charles River Associates (CRA) "report" on the Cape Wind project. Out of thirteen pages only six are actually text containing information, three are appendices and the remaining four are used for title page, about Charles River Associates, Disclaimer and contents. This so called report was released just in time to muddy the waters four days before public comments were due at the U. S. Minerals Management Service (MMS), comments regarding the Section 106 review of archeological, historic and cultural matters in the Cape Wind case. More fraudulent economics to excuse the developer for his attack on Nantucket Sound.
Briefly, Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act requires that federal agencies reviewing permit applications for just about anything should evaluate if there will be any disruption of historically or culturally significant features of or near the proposed project site. the Cape Wind project is proposed for a twenty-five square mile site in the heart of Nantucket Sound known as Horseshoe Shoal, an area known to have been dry land at some time in the past. There is a growing body of opinion that the site may include remnants of ancient Indian villages, farms and burial grounds, all of which would be subject to protection under the National Historic Preservation Act.
This would be a major blow to the planned Cape Wind offshore wind farm and Cape Wind supporters as well as to a growing number of newspapers and news organizations who are referring to the tribes' objections as last minute and eleventh hour ploys. However, the Mashpee Wampanoag and Aquinnah Wampanog tribes have been on record, in writing, as having claimed protection for this area since early in 2004. Their involvement and complaints are not new, as much of the press would have us all believe. Further, both tribes, having made their concerns known to federal regulators years ago received no response to their written and verbal communications until recently. Matters got to the point that Interior Secretary Ken Salazar himself visited Cape Cod and toured Nantucket sound as well as meeting with the tribes.
For these two federally recognized tribes what is at stake is a way of life, ten thousand years of history and heritage as well as very modern economic assets. One of the tribes' claims is thatantucket Sound must remain unobstructed visually to preserve the vista which is an integratl part of their ancient sunrise ceremony. The tribes have long been known as the people of the First light. Predictably Cape Wind and its supporters ridicule this tribal claim, even enlisting a rather sketchy member of the Aquinnah tribe to say that he has never known of such a cermony. I personally know Mashpee who go to the shore often, sometimes daily, to pray and take in the glory of Nantucket Sound as a meditation, a way of healing.
It is important to understand who these Mashpee are and what in their history ties them so tightly to their land and to Nantucket Sound. Some background:
In spite of their originally friendly relationships Indians and European settlers went to war in the seventeenth century with the predictable outcome that the Indians on Cape Cod and further were defeated, some tribes wiped out completely. A stable population of Mashpee remained on Cape Cod and struggled to retain their identity and traditional way of living. By unspoken agreement they were allowed to live in what maps as late as the nineteenth centurty show as the Indian District. With some modifications this is the area known today as the Town of Mashpee. In fact, a treaty in the eighteenth century ceded this area to the tribe as their sovereign and sole territory. Formal settlememnt of the Mashpee District by English colonists began in 1650 or so.
In 1763 the English King declared Mashpee a plantation and a treaty with the tribe granted them self governance within the district as well as freedom to traverse its lands, hunt and fish. The white settlers imposed harsh conditions on the tribe and restricted their ancient ways to the point of nearly starving the tribe into oblivion. In 1788 white settlers declared the tribe's self governance failed and revoked the tribe's right to govern itself, appointing a committee of five white men to do so. It became a crime for Mashpee to teach their own language to their own children Its use was forbidden under any circumstances. Violations of this law were capitol crimes.
The tribe lived under these deplorable conditions for more than a century, but with rights of free passage as well as hunting and fishing rights. Then, in 1870 the Massachusetts broke its original treaty and allowed whites to incorporate the Town of Mashpee, ending the Indian District of Mashpee. In a way the tribe had the last word because until not many years ago virtually every elected office as well that of police and fire chief was held by a Mashpee. Now, howevere, expensive residential development by and for whites has irrevocably changed the character of the town and obliterated Indian political power.
Finally, after a thrity year effort, the mashpee Wampanoag acghieved full and unrestricted federal recognition as a tribe. This was only three ago. Perhaps the tribe's fortunes are changing. The Mashpee and the Aquinnah are ancient and honorable peoples They have endured unimaginable suffering, deprivation, humilitaion and persecution yet have managed to retain their original culture and identity. Now comes cape Wind.
The waters of Nantucket Sound have never hosted a man made fixed obstruction until the Cape Wind data gathering tower was erected in 2003. Although Ken Salazar, Secretary of the Interior declared otherwise in Boston on April 28 when he said, "....Nantucket Sound hosts bridges and cell towers....." there is not one of either structure in Nantucket Sound, not one. Cape Wind is proposed for the area of the Sound known as Horseshoe Shoal. Horsehoe Shoal is known as rich fishing ground for squid and conch. It is also a nationally significant spawning ground for blue fin tuna and other marine species. The conch fishery alone supports more than thirty familes of the Aquinnah tribe. It is expected that towing mobile fishing gear through the wind farm will not be possible and therefore Cape Wind means the end of some of our richest traditonal fisheries.
To make matters worse, it is now accepted that Horseshoe Shoal was at some time in the distant past dry ground and was settled by native peoples for farming and fishing, the strong likelihood is that the Sound now holds in its bottom seditments priceless traces of our past as well as sacred burial grounds. But, Cape Wind has cleverly avoided testing the bottomn sediments anywhere they believe ther is a risk of discovering these things.
Cape Wind spells the end of open water in the heart of Nantucket Sound. No amount of deception or confusion on the part of Secretary Salazar can change this fact. In the context of our indian naeighbors cape Wind is the fianl insult to their culture. After three and a half centuries of being murdered, persecuted, starved, driven from their lands and stripped of even their language....now finally their last treasure is to be desecrated, Nantucket Sound. All this is in the name of producing enromously expensive, unreliable and intermittant electrcity; too the benefit mailny of an already wealthy private energy developer.
Copyright 2010 By Peter A. Kenney
More by this Author
Cape Wind is a study in irony. It is a green energy project that will disrupt the open waters of Nantucket Sound. Its fuel, wind, is free but its energy will cost more than double the conventional energy mix from the...