In the way of progress: Indians and their sacred grounds

By Jay Taber, Intercontinental Cry

Collusion between the U.S. Government and Wall Street to deprive Native Americans of their treaty-guaranteed property goes back to the beginning of the country. Over two and a half centuries, that collusion has comprised both brutal coercion and devious subterfuge, ethnic cleansing coinciding with kidnapping and religious persecution.

While alienating indigenous property in the past entails many broken promises and treaties between the United States and American Indian tribes, the failure to prosecute corporate criminality on Indian reservations in the present is a symptom of the demise of the rule of law in the US that undermines the U.S. Constitution and protections that guard against corporate corruption of governance at all levels. As indigenous governments in the United States assert jurisdiction over their resources under national and international law, the corrupting influence of Wall Street threatens not only Indians and their sacred grounds, but democracy itself.

As Jewell Praying Wolf James writes in his August 2013 special supplement to Whatcom Watch, The Search for Integrity in the Conflict Over Cherry Point as a Coal Export Terminal, the Lummi Indian Tribe ancient village and burial ground at Cherry Point is in the way of progress. As such, Pacific International Terminals, its financial backer Goldman Sachs, and Edelman — the world’s biggest public relations firm — have their work cut out for them.

Having recently settled a $1.6 million lawsuit for illegally and intentionally bulldozing the ancient Cherry Point Lummi village of Xwe’chi’eXen — the first archaeological site placed on the Washington State Register of Historic Places — Pacific International Terminals is actively seeking to corrupt local and tribal elections, as well as influence members of Congress. While PIT — one of the largest marine operators in the world — was able to avoid criminal prosecution for desecrating sacred Lummi grounds, it isn’t leaving anything to chance when it comes to securing approval for its project on Lummi Reservation lands previously stolen by U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs agents on behalf of illegal white settlers.

History, as they say, has a way of repeating itself.