Thursday, January 14, 2010

Mashpee And Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribes Oppose Nantucket Wind Project

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This installment of The Tribes In The Media is a Boston Globe article concerning the Mashpee and Aquinnah Wampanoag´s opposition to a wind project in the Nantucket Sound claiming it will disturb ancestral grounds.

Aquinnah Wampanoag upset at Cape Wind process
By Alan Wirzbicki
The Boston Globe
January 14, 2010

WASHINGTON -- The head of the Aquinnah Wampanoag tribe said today that Native Americans were being shut out of a key meeting in Washington deciding the fate of the proposed Nantucket Sound wind farm.

“It was insulting,” Cheryl Andrews-Maltais, the council chair of the Aquinnah Wampanoag, said in a Globe interview on the steps outside the Interior Department. “I’ll be frank, it was disrespectful - there seems to be no real reason.”

The Aquinnah tribe is one of two Wampanoag tribes that say the 130-turbine wind farm would destroy spiritual sun greetings and disturb ancestral grounds that lie on Nantucket Sound’s seabed. Their five-year complaint recently gained traction when the National Park Service determined the 560-square-mile body of water was eligible to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places, affording it more protection from development.

While both Wampanoag tribes were present at two meetings earlier today with US Interior Secretary Ken Salazar on the issue, they were not allowed into a final one that involved groups that would ultimately sign off on the process, including the developers, the Massachusetts Historical Commission, and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, a federal agency.

Andrews-Maltais said the Wampanoag should have been present because the Nantucket Sound historical issue involved them. She said she is considering issuing a formal complaint.

Maltais said President Barack Obama “promised a change” in dealing with Native American groups yet “there is political pressure to see this go through.”

A spokeswoman for the Interior Department said the Wampanoag tribes were excluded from the third meeting because they are not legally able to sign the final agreement.

Yet, "(Andrews-Maltais's) concerns and thoughts were heard by Secretary Salazar today in the two meetings,'' said Kendra Barkoff, the spokeswoman. Salazar reiterated that same point in a press conference shortly after.

Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Chairman Cedric Cromwell also issued a statement about the meeting, saying he invited Salazar to visit the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe.

“Today we had a very productive discussion about the significant archeological, historical, and cultural impact of the proposed Cape Wind Development.

“Nantucket Sound is a place of great religious and cultural importance to the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe. The determination by the National Parks Service means that the historical and cultural impact of the Cape Wind Project must be considered, and the affected tribes must be consulted with. Today’s meeting was the first step in what we hope will be a thorough and comprehensive consultation.