May 06, 2010

Power Authority debuts Tuscarora exhibit

Tuscaroras featured in new Power Vista exhibit

By Don GlynnPatterson, on a field trip with his Niagara-Wheatfield High School classmates, was viewing for the first time the new permanent exhibit of the Tuscarora Nation in the lower level of the New York Power Authority’s visitor center.

It’s a magnificent and informative exhibit—“The Times of the Tuscarora Nation”—that traces the nation from 800 A.D. to the present and features artwork, beadwork, and select photographs through the past century.

As several of Patterson’s classmates walked hurriedly by, without hardly a glance at the exhibit, the young Native American said he was impressed with the display: “I appreciate the fact it (exhibit organizers) respects our culture. Also, they do acknowledge that they did take our land.”

There was indeed a tense dispute that started simmering in the late 1950s, when it became evident that the Tuscarora Indians would probably lose some of their land through the state’s power of condemnation.
Federal Power Commission v. Tuscarora Indian NationFederal Power Commission v. Tuscarora Indian Nation, 362 U.S. 99 (1960) was a case decided by the United States Supreme Court which determined that the Federal Power Commission was authorized to take lands owned by the Tuscarora Indian tribe by eminent domain under the Federal Power Act for a hydroelectric power project, upon payment of just compensation.Comment:  The Supreme Court decision was legalized land theft. It was another case of the US breaking treaties and its trust obligation to Indians. It's an example of why many Indians still believe the federal government is out to get them.

Also note how the Supreme Court reversed the decision of the District Court, which sided with the Tuscarora. It demonstrates how weak and arbitrary our legal protections are. If five (or in this case) old white men decide they don't like Indians, the Indians lose. Their sovereignty is about as easy to flush as a treaty written on toilet paper.

For more on the Supreme Court's arbitrariness, see Antonin Scalia:  Supreme Court Doofus.

Below:  Someone wears a stereotypical chief's headdress to lead the Tuscarora resistance.

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