|MLPA Initiative: California Native Sovereignty for Casinos, Not for Cultural Survival
by John Lewallen, Public Ocean Access Network
In an obscure document titled “Frequently Asked Questions for the Marine Life Protection Act North Coast Tribal Information Session, Revised August 26, 2009,” the Marine Life Protection Act Initiative(MLPAI) legal team makes clear that California Natives have no sovereignty in the MLPAI process. This suppressed document should immediately be supplied to every California Native Nation in Northern California.
The good-hearted citizens making Marine Protected Area (MPA) plans have been tricked into believing they can protect sovereign California Native ocean food access essential to health and cultural survival simply by adding the words: “these MPA closures will not affect tribal sovereignty or traditional tribal harvesting rights.”
No Native American Harvest Permitting
Item 7 makes clear that all the “tribal exemption clauses” written in to alternative closure plans made by North Coast citizens are a hoax. In any Marine Protected Area, “Any use or access that is granted cannot be discriminatory, meaning that use and access cannot be restricted to any one user group...the Department of Fish and Game does not have a permitting process directed specifically to Native Americans.”
California Native Sovereignty for Casinos, Not For Cultural Survival
Item 4 coldly denies that the First Nations of California have any sovereign status in dealing with the MLPAI. Here are the exact words:
“Unlike the federal government, the State of California has no legal authority to engage in formal, government-to-government consultation with California Natives.... For its part, the MLPA Initiative is a public-private partnership, which similarly cannot engage with tribes in a formal consultation process...”
Everyone knows that the State of California negotiates with sovereign California Native Nations about casinos, including how to divide the profits. The MLPAI, to do justice, must also recognize the sovereignty of First Nations and tribal peoples, whose cultural health and survival depends on access to traditional ocean and intertidal food-gathering.
Food sovereignty for cultures integrated in harmony with the ocean, the intertidal zone, all its creatures and spirits, is the basic sovereignty. What strange law and science comes to destroy this ancient harmony?
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