Thursday, April 19, 2012

On The Bones Of Our Ancestors

On The Bones Of Our Ancestors
Many years ago I started helping my wife with her organization, Save The Sacred Sites.
She was basically trying to protect burials and ancient village sites of Native American ancestors that were disappearing at an alarming rate. Then two bikers came to us about a Confederate Cemetery that was about to be developed. And she just jumped in and protected it. The men were so grateful that they became some of our strongest supporters. Over the years we have protected African American burials also. So this whole thing of burial desecration is not about race. It is about greed.
When we moved to McIntosh County, Georgia about 13 years ago there were many ancient Native American and African American graves in danger here. But I was very sick and Sharon did what she could. Through the years many people from many races have been our allies because greed knows no race. Anyone can be infected with it. It has never been about race to us. It has always been about doing the right thing. We had many people who we worked with in Atlanta, Ga. who we miss greatly who were whites and African Americans and Asian and Native American. I, being a racially mixed person, try never to judge anyone on the basis of race. Like Dr. Martin Luther King said not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
I have seen that idea of character tested strongly since I have been in McIntosh. People have called us many names because we wouldn’t go along with their schemes and scams. On the Old River Road folks asked for our help then turned on us when we got them help from Dr. Joseph Lowery.
We were then approached by some folks with a land trust who wanted their land back from the Harris Neck Wildlife Refuge, a federal wildlife refuge that their ancestors had stolen from them by the federal government.
Well we know how it is to lose your land over and over. So we tried to help. Sharon asked specifically if there were burials there and was told of only three African American burials. We then got verified, by years of study of the area, archaeological studies that showed innumerable burials and ancient village sites of Native Americans of this area. We then dropped our support of these folks. One day their (used to be) white “point man” tried to run me down (his body into mine) in a Staples because we no longer supported them.
This made me suspicious. Then a very nice white man called me and told me the rest of the story about Harris Neck. It seems the land wasn’t stolen. It was bought under the war powers act. But they now claim their ancestors didn’t get paid enough. Many people lost land during World War II (WWII) to the War Powers Act, not just Harris Neck folks. I am sure many were upset about be relocated. The Cherokee were very upset on the Trail of Tears where over 4,000 died when they were relocated from Georgia to Oklahoma. But I seriously doubt the Cherokee will ever get their lands in North Georgia back. And it appears that these folks want the “whole” wildlife refuge back. Unfortunately history says that their ancestors only owned a tiny portion of the wildlife refuge.
As this whole story began to unravel, we found there to be tons of evidence that this whole claim was not going to even benefit the African Americans they say it will. As we dug into it we saw on the surface what appeared to be an African American developer waiting to develop this land. But we later learned that the major money and power came from certain wealthy white investors. Then we began to get harassed at our home (shootings in our direction, vandalism, etc..). And recently, we had never had military jets buzz our home. But suddenly there are every so often those who do this. We called and asked them not to because it scares the animals (horses, donkeys, dogs). The guy who we talk to at the FAA was nice and said he talked to them. They still come here now. We have these little prop planes in larger numbers also. I won’t go into all that they have done. It has become a circus. And the ring master is not from McIntosh.
The power behind this has influence all the way to Washington, D.C. because people who are helping these folks are very powerful folks who really don’t care about African Americans. Now supposed these folks get this land back. How long does anyone think that the African Americans will have the land?
How long do you think it will be before the wealthy white money behind this takes it away from them?
We have seen them lose their land here again and again because there is no major way to make a dependable living here and times are tough.
If anyone is making this about race, it is the folks saying that anyone against this land being given to them is racist.
When in reality, it is about greed.
Finally, in order for the federal government to “give” this land back to these folks they would have to have the approval of the entire group of federally recognized Native Americans in America because these ancient burials and village sites are on federal lands and are protected under section 106 of federal NAGPRA laws. (Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act). It does not matter if someone says they can prove they are Native American and that they are okay with the destruction of this history and burials. If that person is not enrolled in a federally recognized Native American Tribe or have a BIA card, they should not be speaking for Native Americans.
This entire process has yet to invite one federally recognized Native American to the table to get their opinion. They say they got some folks out west to say they should get their land back. But when I called these folks they knew nothing about them. What we have encountered here is evil caused by greed under the guise of what should have been a good cause. If the people were not paid enough, why can’t they just get paid with interest the money owed them instead of destroying Native American burials and ancient village sites that we have the proof they exist in many reports dating back to the 1800s.
Instead what we have here on the other side is rumor and conjecture with very little proof.
What really hurts is the loss of some really wonderful African American friends that we both miss a lot.
But then greed can ruin a lot of things. And the bones of our ancestors will pay for their greed. Wado.

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