Monday, February 23, 2009
Something is Rotten in Maryland
To suggest that there is something a little strange about the region claimed by the Commonwealth of Maryland, that on one hand has such a rich and deep history of Native people, yet has no State or Federally recognized Native people in the entire State, is an understatement. That is, apparently till now. In spite of the fact that a consistent group of Piscataway people have been asserting their presence in Maryland for over 50 years, the State has refused to formally recognize them. But now all of a sudden the State is trying to relax the requirements for recognition. A bill before both the House and the Senate of Maryland is attempting to change the process that would require a petitioner applying for recognition to be descendants of a tribe indigenous to the State before 1790 to now being descendants of a tribe from the State prior to 1900. A request for this change did not come from thin air, so why would the State be considering such a change? Was there a pile of rejected applicants that couldn't trace their occupation back to 1790? No, the Piscataways can't even get an answer to their application. Was there a Native influx during that 110 years that the rest of us don't know about. I'm quite certain someone would have noticed. We know these things happen for a reason and the only reason is lobbying. The question is who is doing the lobbying or more importantly who is paying for it. It certainly cannot be a coincidence that a gaming and entertainment interest named the Cordish Group has been trolling for Indians in the region. They seemed to have caught some live ones that may have had just a little trouble with their historical claims, but nothing 110 years can't fix; I guess. All sarcasm aside, this game has been played before. The idea of creating a process that will facilitate the propping up of false leaders and worse yet, false "Indians", so someone else's interests can be served. That's how land was stolen, cultures destroyed and 98% of our populations extinguished. The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) has become the modern day "small pox blankets". Casino compacts handed out like gifts with hidden yet devastating consequences. States that don't want the debt or stigma associated with casinos can prostitute the local Indians instead. If the Native people don't want to play ball, the State will find or create someone who will. States are desperate for revenue. Most dance a little with lotteries and other low level gaming, but the states that get the highest yield for the smallest investment are the ones that let the Indians get dirty and just sit back and collect. We all need to watch Maryland. There is a stench in the air. Any legitimate Native person or people should have no trouble tracing their past to 1790, but the reality is State and Federal recognition won't validate a real Native person - Onkwe ohnwe. Call or write to the Maryland State Assembly for explanation and answers. Thomas V. Mike Miller is the Maryland State Senate President write to him at email@example.com.