ADVISORY COUNCIL ON TENNESSEE INDIAN AFFAIRS
Sunday 17 April 2005
The quarterly meeting of ACTIA was held on Sunday, April 17, 2005 at
Cumberland University in Lebanon, TN. At 10:30 a.m., Chairperson David Teat
called the meeting to order. He welcomed everyone to the meeting. Opening
prayer was presented by Tommy Veal.
David Teat – Middle Tennessee
John Hedgecoth – East Tennessee
Donna Bivens – West Tennessee
Dale Mitchell – Middle Tennessee
Tommy Veal – Knoxville
tom kunesh – Chattanooga
Also present was Don Merzlak, proposed member-at-large.
The following visitors were in attendance: Tommy Bivens, Jackie Hicks-Burris, Pat Merzlak, Joe McCaleb.
The agenda was reviewed, amended and approved. It was decided to dispense with the regular protocol in order to move the proceedings along at a quicker pace.
Committee reports were tabled until next regular meeting.
A motion was made by John Hedgecoth and seconded by tom kunesh to accept Don Merzlak as a new member-at-large. Don Merzlak, Lakota, court-appointed special investigator on behalf of children from the Greenville area was approved as a new member-at-large unanimously.
There was approval of an amendment defining at-large membership in ACTIA from the February 19th meeting. The bylaw amendment will read:
ARTICLE 4. MEMBERSHIP
The Advisory Council on Tennessee Indian Affairs shall be governed by a board of directors that shall consist of no more than thirty-five (35) members as follows:
(c) Up to seven (7) members-at-large, elected by the ACTIA board members, who meet the following criteria;
(i) First consideration will be given to Native American people who are residents of Tennessee and in leadership positions in a Tennessee Native American organization that has been established for at least four (4) years;
(ii) Secondary consideration will be given to other members and supporters of the Indian community who are residents of Tennessee and who have shown an interest and willingness to work for the betterment of the Native American community in Tennessee.
A motion was made to accept this change in the bylaws by Dale Mitchell and seconded by tom kunesh. This amendment was approved and passed unanimously.
A new brochure of information was presented by tom kunesh, similar to the one presently being distributed at the genealogy classes. The brochure was distributed for review. David Teat recommended adoption for distribution. Donna Bivens stated that it could also be made available on the ACTIA website. Some discussion ensued concerning the use of "generic" tribal names vs. those of existing tribal entities. It was decided that some minor changes would be made on the final draft including the addition of Shawnee to the tribal listing. A motion was made by John Hedgecoth and seconded by Donna Bivens to accept the brochure with the stated amendments. The motion passed unanimously.
A special report was presented on the Indian mascot issue by Don Merzlak. The Advisory Council approved distribution of Don’s information on the mascot issue and will request that the Commission place the ACTIA resolution on their June meeting agenda. A motion was made by tom kunesh and seconded by Dale Mitchell. The motion passed unanimously. A letter from ACTIA will be drafted by the chairman and included with the materials to be sent to the Commissioners.
There was a brief discussion of a request from TNNAC for ACTIA to assist with this year’s caucus and convention. It was suggested that Board members become involved in the election process as individuals rather than "officially" as the Advisory Council so that there would be less chance of it being construed as a conflict of interest. It was suggested that ACTIA act as monitors/observers at the caucuses. John Hedgecoth made a motion to send a letter to TNNAC advising that ACTIA would assist with observers at the caucuses. Donna Bivens seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.
There was a discussion concerning the fact that TNNAC has never received a formal request from ACTIA to conduct the election of members. John Hedgecoth made a motion, seconded by Dale Mitchell for ACTIA to send a formal request to TNNAC to conduct the election of members. The motion was passed unanimously. There was some discussion concerning the requirements for running for a board position with ACTIA. It was suggested that ACTIA use the same criteria that is in place for the TNCIA candidates at this time. After this year’s caucus, the requirements will be reviewed and a decision will be made whether or not to make changes. Don Merzlak made a motion and tom kunesh seconded the motion to adopt this plan of action. The motion was passed.
It was noted that ACTIA’s bylaws state that its membership will be taken from "Commissioner nominees". It was decided that the by-laws will need to have significant changes made since TNNAC has revised the election process. This subject will be further scrutinized in future meetings.
It was brought to the attention of the members that the existing application for candidacy states "what would make you a good Commissioner". A motion was made by Dale Mitchell and seconded by Don Merzlak to request that TNNAC revise the existing application to include "or Advisory Council member". The motion was passed.
The next TNNAC meeting is scheduled for this following Sunday. Don Merzlak made a motion, seconded by John Hedgecoth, to have David Teat present these previously passed items in a verbal request to the TNNAC board. The motion passed.
Discussions were opened on the protection of American Indian burial sites and sacred sites. Dale Mitchell reported that the Archaeological Advisory Council had called an emergency meeting for April 27th at Pinson Mounds because the Forestry Division that is adjacent to the park contains a good bit of the Pinson Mounds complex and some of their harvesting techniques were endangering some archaeological sites there. They are meeting with members of the Forestry Division to try to work out some means where these sites would be better protected. David Teat suggested that now was the time to begin making an effort to bring together the different organizations that deal with the issue to protection of these sites. He stated that it was time to start a campaign to begin a working relationship with these different people and organizations. As the Advisory Council to the Tennessee Commission of Indian Affairs we need to make sure that the advice that we give comes from all the various individuals and organizations across the state…including the State agencies. Tommy Veal suggested that the Advisory Council draft legislation similar to what the state of North Carolina has concerning removal of large amounts of soil. Joe McCaleb stated that the new Commissioner of TDEC, Jim Fyke, and also the new Deputy Commissioner, Paul Sloan, had backgrounds in management of park services. They were more likely to be sympathetic to the concerns regarding the disturbing of grave sites and sacred sites and previous administration had been. He suggested that TNCIA set up a meeting with Commissioner Fyke and discuss the Indian point of view as far as degradation of Pinson Mounds is concerned.
David Teat suggested that a list be made of the various organizations that would be interested in dealing with the issue. This included:
Tennessee Commission of Indian Affairs
The Advisory Council on Tennessee Indian Affairs
Tennessee Archaeological Advisory Council
Alliance for Native American Indian Rights
Native American Indian Association
Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation
Tennessee Department of Transportation
Tennessee Department of Agriculture – Forestry Division
Chattanooga Intertribal Association
Intertribal Sacred Land Trust
Native American Land Trust of Tennessee
Tennessee Archaeological Trust
Tennessee Ancient Sites Conservancy
Swan Land Trust, Murray County, Summertown
Tennessee River Gorge Land Trust, Chattanooga
Land Trust Association of Tennessee
Tennessee American Indian Movement
Sacred Little Cedar Mountain Defense Coalition
all federally-recognized tribes
David Teat suggested that we form a coalition with some or all of the listed groups/organizations to begin some interaction. Joe McCaleb stated that it would be more appropriate for ACTIA to submit this suggestion to TNCIA and let them be the agency requesting the meeting. The Archaeological Committee was charged with contacting the above mentioned organizations and inform them of the upcoming meeting concerning the Pinson Mounds issue and suggest that they might want to send representatives. The TNCIA will also be informed and request will be made to schedule a meeting with the new TDEC officials concerning the issue.
tom kunesh brought up the issue that there should not be trees growing on any of the mounds at all. He stated that the various mounds in the state were not being cared for as they should be. He stated that we should begin taking care of the mounds as it was originally intended by the Ancestors.
The issue of land acquisition was discussed, specifically those purchased and considered for purchase by TDEC. It was decided that land acquisition committee information would be sent to John Hedgecoth for further investigation.
A discussion concerning the Cemetery Termination Law of 1948 brought out several interesting facts. Joe McCaleb detailed the way that the courts interpreted this law to allow for the desecration and destruction of Native American burial sites. It was a general agreement that something needed to be done to change this law. David Teat stated that the first step to do so would involve getting the recognition issues worked out. Joe McCaleb stated that one thing that makes it so hard to deal with TDOT is that they have no set rules or procedures when dealing with a Native American grave site. Joe had suggested previously that ACTIA approach TDOT and request that they create an official procedure in dealing with this issue. His idea was for TDOT to have public hearings across the state and hear from the Native American people how they would like graves treated and then for TDOT for formally set up rules and regulations and adopt those rules and regulations so that every site would be treated the same. He stated that the place to start would be for the TNCIA to contact the TDOT Commissioner.
A lengthy discussion concerning the treatment of Native American grave sites by TDOT and the issue to who gets notified when remains are found ensued. Joe McCaleb stated that it has always been an unbalanced, unfair, inequitable situation. Several suggestions were brought forward, including the donation of burial sites to 501(c)3 Native American organizations; the acquisition of sites by Federal agencies; land conservation easements; the establishment of a "green space" and donations of sites to land trusts. Tommy Veal suggested that a committee be established to contact and work with the various land trusts that are already present and operating in the state. David Teat noted that the Archaeology Committee probably needed to handle this issue. David asked that the Archaeology Committee draft and send a letter to the aforementioned organizations concerning cooperation in establishing a working relationship with ACTIA. tom kunesh suggested that the letter include information concerning the upcoming meeting at Pinson Mounds and request that the organizations put us on their mailing list and that we will also place them on our mailing list for contact about similar situations. More discussion concerning the Pinson Mounds issue was carried out. David Teat stated that he would contact Pat Cumming to determine just what our plan of action needed to be.
tom kunesh made a motion that the Advisory Council request that the Commission represent the Native American interest in the current issue about Pinson Mounds. Tommy Veal seconded the motion. The motion passed. David Teat stated that he would verbally relay the request to the Commissioners.
tom kunesh made a motion that ACTIA recommend that the Commission endorse and support the Tennessee Prayer Day for Native American Sacred Places Day on Sunday, 19 June 2005. John Hedgecoth seconded the motion. Motion carried. Dale Mitchell made a motion that the Advisory Council endorse the Tennessee Prayer Day for Native American Sacred Places Day. tom kunesh seconded the motion. Motion was passed.
Dale Mitchell made a motion to accept the resignation of Lee Vest from the Advisory Council. John Hedgecoth seconded the motion. The motion carried.
The next meeting will be on Saturday, 9 July 2005 at 10:00 a.m. at Cumberland University.
The meeting was adjourned with a closing prayer.
These minutes were submitted for approval by the Board on 19 July 2005.
Donna Bivens, Secretary/Treasurer