Tuesday, September 18, 2007

My Passion For Ancesrtal Right and Indian Sovereignty

My Passion For
Ancestral Rights
Indian Sovereignty

For all of my life I have found myself on the front lines of standing up for issues of Social Justice. I often say that I inherited the battle for Environmentalism and Freedom of Choice in Alternative Medicine from my father, Bruce W. Halstead, M.D. From that start, I found myself involved with other issues that included: code enforcement, civil rights, human rights, equal rights, children's issues, government corruption, and corporate wrong doing.

While I received my degree in Political Science from UC Davis in 1976, I have spent my professional life in business. When I met my wife Michelle at the end of 1999, she had already adopted three children who started life as the victims of drug abuse. Together we have adopted five more of these children who would otherwise be at risk of growing up in perpetual foster care where they would be statistically inclined to repeat the sins of their biological parents.

In the process of becoming foster parents, I was exposed to the phenomenal crisis that has been created by the miserably failed war on drugs. We are now creating generations of children who are growing up in the system with little hope for the future. It was this reality that has led us to create the Earth Haven Foundation for Kids to address their needs. The goals for this foundation include educating the public about this crisis, providing methodology for handling their needs, and passing legislation that would open up loving adopted homes for these innocent child victims.

It was the search for affordable housing for these children that brought our family to Barstow. Since it is my nature to practice public participation and citizen oversight, it was only natural for me to get involved with local politics. It didn't take long for me to see what was going on here in Barstow and how this town was being run by the same kind of land baron cronies that ruined by home town of Grand Terrace.

With the advent of Indian gaming as the dominant issue of Barstow, it didn't take long for me to investigate the influence of the billionaire Detroit developer which now runs this small town. It also brought forth an interest in the questions relating to Ancestral Rights which I admit to only having a basic concept of prior to my involvement with this issue. But the more I looked into Ancestral Rights, the more that I came to realize how sacred this was to Native Americans and how it was the same as civil rights and human rights.

But standing up for my beliefs has brought me into conflict with the Barwest machine and the object of their smear campaigns to discredit me. I have always been willing to stand up for Native Americans and I would be honored to represent them in any way that would assist in their fight for self determination and Indian Sovereignty.

But since I have yet to be called upon to represent Native Americans, I highly resent the Barwest, Tom Shields ugly lies that I am acting as a paid political hack for "the other side". I can think of nothing that would offend me more than being accused of being another "Tom Shields". I see him as a sleazy, scumbag lier that would stoop to the lowest form of political manipulations for the big bucks that Barwest pays him. This morally bankrupt slime is the best at what he does which is to buy influence, corrupt politicians, and destroy local democracy. The fact that he has some local leaders like Barstow School Board Member Julie Clemmer participating in perpetuating his lies against me is a sad and pathetic statement about their moral character.

For all of these reasons and more, I felt compelled to write the following statement and read it during the "Casino Update" Item of the Agenda for the September 17 Regular Meeting of the Barstow City Council Meeting.

My Three Minute Comments
On Ancestral Rights
During Casino Update
Barstow City Council Meeting
by Larry D. Halstead

"Make no mistake about it! This battle over Indian gaming here in Barstow is all about Ancestral Rights. To those that don’t understand this simple truth, I wonder what part of Ancestral Rights don’t you understand, Ancestral or Rights? It is almost as if you have never even thought about how we went from Native Americans as the ONLY American citizens on the continent, to the ugly history of genocide and forced exile and onto these god-forsaken lands we call “reservations”.

It is like you never even stopped to think about the deplorable conditions imposed on Native Americans on those reservations. Those deplorable conditions have been undeniably turned around by Indian gaming.

Ancestral Rights and Indian Sovereignty is as sacred to Native Americans as civil rights are to non-Indians because it was paid for by their blood. Ancestral rights are not determined by Dale, Rector, or Tom Shields but was determined over a 250 year history of treaties. These days, Ancestral Rights for lands in Barstow are identified by the Native American Heritage Commission and dictated by Senate Bill 18 to be listed on Barstow’s General plan as belonging to the Serrano, Kaaiisu, Fort Mojave, and Chemehuevi Tribes.

This Mayor’s unauthorized letter to the Department of the Interior attacking the Chemehuevi and their Ancestral Rights is ugly, disrespectful, shameful, and illegal. This Council, except for Gomez, has shown a disregard for their blatant conflict of interest. This Mayor can never again expect even the slightest respect from me after his assault on the great nation of the Chemehuevi and his gross disrespect for their elected honorable leader, Chairman Wood.

Barwest politicians obsessive lobbying and acting like the paid pawns and puppets for Barwest that they are, is counter productive to Barstow ever having a casino. It is also a blatant disregard for Ancestral Rights, the Brown Act, and all laws against conflict of interest.

Barwest specializes in Reservation Shopping which is considered by tribes that respect the Ancestral lands of other tribes as an evil threat to Indian Sovereignty. The Barwest strategy for violating these rights in their greedy quest to profit from Indian gaming is to find these fledging tribes and supply them with the lawyers to fight in the courts, the lobbyist to persuade legislators, and the millions of dollars needed to buy influence and politicians like they have done here in Barstow.

Standing up for Ancestral Rights and against government corruption is something that I am proud to do. It is consistent with every battle for social justice that I have ever been involved with and I will continue this battle until justice rolls down upon Barstow like a mighty river freeing this town of the Barwest influence and the corrupt politicians who run this town."

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