Native Americans Need Your Help Too!
Shared by AARON TOBY, Bourne MA on October 26, 2018
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The below is a public testimny to the Cannabis Control Commission in Massachusetts, dated July 2018.
(Massasoit smoking a peace pipe with Governor John Carver in Plymouth 1621)
The Cannabis Control Commission could help the Indigenous People, Native Americans by including them in the Eligibility as Economic Empowerment Applicants in Cape Cod towns and the Islands or in any cities and towns that did not vote to opt out of the cannabis business.
As the Commonwealth of Massachusetts through its Cannabis Control Commission reviews and approves license applications for a variety of applicants, it is worthy to note that the Commission has called for the ‘Inclusion of Under-Represented Groups’ to promote racial equity, as well as noting applications that provide a ‘Contribution to Social Equity Programs’ that can positively affect communities disproportionately impacted by high rates of arrest and incarceration for drug offenses.
What also merits consideration is the strong historic ties between the original inhabitants of this land and the European immigrants that came in the seventeenth century, the setbacks suffered by the indigenous peoples after contact both historic and contemporary, in a way that brings mutual benefit to both communities today. The ancestors of modern Native Americans were greatly affected by the European colonization of the Americas, which began in 1492, and their population declined quickly due to introduced diseases, warfare and slavery. Native Americans pass down stories to preserve their history and heritage, because we don't have much of it left. As tribes were systemically exterminated, so too were their respective cultures. But we have our stories, and one about the term "redskins." Spencer Phips, a British politician and then Lieutenant Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Province, issued the call, ordering on behalf of British King George II for, "His Majesty's subjects to Embrace all opportunities of pursuing, captivating, killing and Destroying all and every of the aforesaid Indians." They paid well – 50 pounds for adult male scalps; 25 for adult female scalps; and 20 for scalps of boys and girls under age 12. These bloody scalps were known as "redskins."
You may also recall the state flag of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts that depicts a typical Wampanoag man subjugated under an arm and saber that has been used continuously for several years. These effects are not merely historic; the city of Boston introduced a regulation so uniquely discriminatory towards Native Americans in 1675 that it created a ban on Indians entering Boston that remained until its repeal in 2004.
Some national data that Commissioners should consider are among the following:
- Native Americans are incarcerated at a rate 38% higher than the national average, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics.
- Native American youths are 30% more likely than whites to be referred to juvenile court than have charges dropped, according to National Council on Crime and Delinquency.
- Native Americans are more likely to be killed by police than any other racial group, according to the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice.
- Native American men are incarcerated at four times the rate of white men; Native American women are incarcerated at six times the rate of white women, according to a report compiled by the Lakota People’s Law Project.
- Native Americans fall victim to violent crime at more than double the rate of all other US citizens, according to BJS reports. Eighty-eight percent of violent crime committed against Native American women is carried out by non-Native perpetrators.
Compared to other racial/ethnic groups in the U.S., American Indians and Alaska Natives have the highest rates of alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, and hallucinogen use disorders and the second highest methamphetamine abuse rates after Native Hawaiians. Consequences of substance abuse in this population have been significant. For example, a more frequent association between alcohol use and suicide has been observed among Native Americans compared to the general U.S. population3,4. In addition, high rates of traumatic exposure have been identified among AI/ANs with alcohol use disorders5.
Regarding arrest and incarceration rates, respected media outlets have studied the phenomenon of legal inequity in Indian Country. In April 2015, The Wall Street Journal spoke with Ralph Erickson, a chief federal district court judge for North Dakota. Erickson, an outspoken proponent of sentencing reforms for Native American reservations, is spearheading the federal review, called the Tribal Issues Advisory Group, the panel is made up of 22 judges and law enforcement administrators, 11 of which are Native American.
“No matter how long I have been sentencing in Indian Country, I find it gut-wrenching when I am asked by a family member of a person I have sentenced why Indians are sentenced to longer sentences than white people who commit the same crime,” Erickson confided to The Journal’s Dan Frosch.
Frosch accounts for this disparity by dissecting the process by which certain crimes are prosecuted on reservations. “Native Americans are typically prosecuted under federal law for serious offenses committed on reservations,” he explains. “State punishments for the same crimes tend to be lighter.”
MASSACHUSETTS STATISTICS FOR NATIVE AMERICANS
These challenging national statistics do not improve when compared with statistics right here in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The following data is from the 2000 Census, and yields some startling results.
Note that unless otherwise noted, socio-demographic indicators are given for American Indian and Alaska Natives alone.
· The per capita income for American Indian and Alaska Natives in 1999 ($15,889) was close to 40% below the state per capita income of $25,592.
· The 1999 median household income for American Indian and Alaska Natives was $36,810 compared with $50,502 for all residents of Massachusetts.
· American Indians and Alaska Natives have poorer educational attainment when compared with the Massachusetts population as a whole. In Massachusetts in 2000, 28% of the American Indian and Alaska Native population had less than a high school diploma compared with 15% of the state population.
· Only 11% of the American Indian and Alaska Natives in Massachusetts had bachelor’s degrees compared with 20% of the state population.
· Twenty-one percent of American Indian and Alaska Natives live below the poverty level as compared with Massachusetts as a whole at 9.3%.
· American Indian families were more than 3 times more likely to live below poverty than those at the state overall.
· The home ownership rate for American Indian and Alaska Natives (alone) (38%) was about half the rate for all of Massachusetts residents (62%) in 2000.
Presently, Native Americans are not included in the Eligibility as an Economic Empowerment Applicant even though they have the deepest and longest ties to the Commonwealth, and further one of the most negatively impacted ethnic groups by inordinately high rates of arrest and incarceration for drug offenses both nationwide and in Massachusetts.
I am requesting the CCC to amend the regulations to include Native Americans in the Eligibility as Economic Empowerment Applicants in Cape Cod towns and the Islands or in any cities and towns that did not vote or choose to opt out of the cannabis business.
Cannabis in Native American’s Culture and Religion, by M. Allister Greene in Cannabis Digest, July 9, 2018.
Native American Tribe's Cannabis Consultant To Face Trial, by James Nord in Politics, May 19, 2017.
Native American Tribes Consider Entering Marijuana Market, by Phil Dierking and Caty Weaver, August 27, 2017.
Pot Casino? Native American Tribe Sparks Marijuana Business -- Tax Free, by Robert W. Wood in Forbes Magazine, June 6, 2017.
Submitted by: Aaron Tobey, Jr.
50 Monument Neck Rd.
Bourne, MA 02532
Date: July 11, 2018