urocyon: Grey fox crossing a stream (Default)
Related to the last post: Jason Adams' Self-Determination on the Paleface Reservation.

The first national census, taken in 1790 reclassified all the unique Indian, Metis and other non-black, non-white peoples as "Free Persons of Color" (FPC), effectively stripping them of their culture (Kennedy, 1997, p. 13).

At the same time that this reclassification took place, people described generically as "Indians" – who were living at the site of the first people known to be labeled "Melungeon" (Everett, 1999, p. 360) - successfully fought off an emerging coal industry’s attempt to steal over 55,000 acres of their land. French speculator Pierre-Francois Tubeuf had aquired "rights" to fifty-five thousand acres of coal lands in southern Appalachia in 1791. When he arrived that same year to secure his paper claim to the already inhabited lands, he encountered a cleverly planned guerilla resistance from mixed-blood "Mountain Indians", likely Melungeons. Having a variably Indian, white or other physical appearance (not to mention knowledge) afforded them the ability to carry out a creative resistance: they could dress and act as painted indigenous warriors and threatening, mystical snake-handlers or as friendly "Mountain Indian" traders and common White hunters. This chameleon-like power, unique to those of mixed-ancestry, was used to gain information about Tubeuf in order to secure their centuries old claim to the lands (Wilson, 1998, p. 66). Tired of what he called "black tricks", in 1793 Tubeuf enlisted the violence of Virginia’s militia to clear out his claim of "inhabitants." It is unclear how succesful he was, but by the year 1795 Tubeuf lie mortally wounded, killed by two men who were variably described as Indian, French or unknown by witnesses (Wilson, 1998, p. 57-59). The variation as to the ethnicity of these men, and the presence of a long standing indigenous resistance suggests that they were probably mixed-bloods, and given the location, Melungeon.

This was but one of many examples of creative indigenous resistance to land theft.

IOW, this crap has been going on for a long time. The clowning there? Priceless. *g*
urocyon: Grey fox crossing a stream (Default)
One I just ran across, from Brooke Jarvis: Appalachia Rising for a New Economy. I quoted more than I'd intended (emphasis added), but it touches on some very important points.
"Being arrested? That's such a small price to pay for being heard," said Mickey McCoy, former mayor and lifelong resident of Inez, Kentucky, who started opposing mountaintop removal (or MTR) when the creeks by his house ran black following a breach in a nearby sludge dam in 2000. "My home and people are paying the real price for mountaintop removal. They are dying."...

Mountaintop removal, Randolph continued, "is keeping an entire region poor. It has meant a direct loss of tens of thousands of coal mining jobs in the region, and is 100 percent directly correlated with high unemployment, high poverty, and low economic diversification. We agree that Appalachia needs jobs, but we can create jobs without poisoning our communities. According to the Appalachian Regional Commission, we could create 15,000 jobs a year for the first five years by investing in energy efficiency."...

Of course, tourism is just one industry that depends on an end to MTR. In West Virginia's Coal River Valley, residents are pushing for a wind farm that they say will bring more jobs—not to mention higher paying, more secure ones—than mining. But blasting for an MTR coal mine has already begun on the mountain ridges that would support the turbines...

What does it mean, I asked him, to say that Appalachia is rising? As coal's economic power wanes, he answered, so does its political power—leaving a vacuum for the residents of Appalachia to fill. "The political clout of the coal industry has long outlasted its ability to provide job growth or sustainable economic development for the Appalachian region," he said. "Just like the coal, that power is going away."

And Appalachians are rising to take its place—in a more diverse, stable, and less destructive economy.

For more background, see iLoveMountains.org, and their excellent America's Most Endangered Mountains series.

I may understand why (more very convenient victim blaming--see “You People”, environmental degradation, and difficult choices), but it continues to frustrate me just how little attention this irreversible destruction gets from people not very directly affected by it. Even though it's affecting lots of other people.

Chris Irwin, an attorney with United Mountain Defense, told TENTHMIL this is about looking to the future, to a time when we’ll regret permanently contaminating the thousands of streams and rivers that are the headwaters for the water supply that much of the US East Coast relies on. “The coal industry likes to say that we are the ‘Saudi Arabia of coal,’ but that’s bullshit. What we’re the Saudi Arabia of is clean drinking water…You can’t drink coal.”#

"Only when the last tree has died, the last river has been poisoned, and the last fish has been caught will we realize that we cannot eat money." —Cree Proverb

I guess we should add to that "when the last mountain has been knocked down". :-|

ETA: I didn't explicitly say, but one of the big reasons this caught my eye was that it was very explicitly not suggesting that Appalachian people need saved from ourselves. When, erm, we aren't the ones with the power to destroy shit in the first place.

September 2011

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