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Commentary :: Human Rights
Native people dissed in Greenfield
18 May 2004
One might think that by the 21st century, 328 years since white men slaughtered unarmed American Indian women and children in Franklin County, their heirs would finally be able to get it right.
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Native people dissed in Greenfield In a sordid tale of what appears to be greed and racism, Greenfield's Mayor and pro-development forces in that Franklin County town have sought to discredit and undermine attempts by Native Americans to protect Indian remains that may date back to the massacre at Turners Falls that took place on May 19, 1676. Tomorrow at Unity Park in Turners Falls that tragic event will be marked with a gathering intended to seek reconciliation, but such sentiments do not seem to be on the agenda in Greenfield's town offices, the enclaves of developers, or for that matter, at the offices of the town's paper, The Greenfield Recorder.

According to Friends of Wissatinnewag, a Native-led group responsible for protecting an historic site off Canada Hill Road, a witness said human skeletal remains were removed from the Mackin sand bank (land that Friends of Wissatinnewag now owns) and moved by the truckload across French King Highway to the White Ash Swamp, and then callously bulldozed into the swamp back in 1964. Now, developers want to rezone the area and the mayor refuses to remove the ten-acre plot in question from the rezoning proposal that is soon to be on the June ballot in Greenfield.

As noted on the group's website: "At the Economic Development Committee meeting on March 11, the Friends publicly offered to work with the town to obtain funds that would enable the 10 acre wetland to be protected as open space. The Friends never received any response to our offer. Despite the fact that the overwhelming majority of the citizens in attendance at this meeting urged the Committee to vote against the rezoning proposal, they still approved it. Councilman Issac Mass, the chair of the committee and the Mayor's "point-person" pushing for the rezoning, refused to allow text of [the witness's] affidavit to be read into the public record. The meeting was carried by GCTV." Interestingly, it was recently learned that Issac Mass is one of the founders of the rightwing and often reviled Citizen's for Growth, a pro-development cabal that has insinuated itself into town politics the past few years.

After the March 11 meeting, Mass had attempted to engineer what appeared to be a public relations coup on GCTV that would have put the Friends group into an untenable position due to the structure of the program. Friends turned down the invitation to the four televised meetings on the rezoning due to its structure and were then lambasted by Mass and, according to some, by the Greenfield Recorder. A source close to the issue tells Indymedia that The Recorder has consistently stonewalled Friends of Wissatinnewag by not printing their responses to attacks appearing in the paper and not giving equal coverage in their reporting.

One might think that by the 21st century, 328 years since white men slaughtered unarmed American Indian women and children in Franklin County, their heirs would finally be able to get it right. Perhaps tomorrow at the event in Unity Park some of that reconciliation will come to fruition, but now seems to be a fitting occasion for developers, government bureaucrats, journalists and editors in Greenfield to do their part and honor the remains of those who came before them. After all, all the economic development in the world will do little good to a society that is morally bankrupt.

This work is in the public domain