October 19, 1998 Settlement

Statement of United American Indians of New England on the dropping of charges against Plymouth defendants and settlement with Plymouth

We need not recount what happened on November 27, 1997, when 25 peaceful protesters were arrested in Plymouth, Massachusetts. The events are well-documented, not only in pictures and words, but in the memories of those who experienced what took place on the streets of Plymouth. Since then, UAINE has received thousands of letters of support and petitions. People and organizations from across the country and from throughout the world sent letters, e-mails, and faxes to federal, state, and local officials demanding that the charges against the Plymouth 25 be dropped. Many of these people honored our call for an economic boycott of Plymouth. Supporters stood with us in court every time we were required to make an appearance and made sure that information about about our case was distributed internationally. To each and every one of you who refused to look the other way when confronted by injustice, we say "thank you," and we honor you.

Coles Hill Plaque, metal embedded in rock

click image for larger, readable view
of Coles Hill plaque
photo: Nicole S.

We are pleased to announce that the frame-up criminal charges against those arrested on November 27, 1997 have been dropped as of today, October 19, 1998. Further, United American Indians of New England has reached a settlement with the Town of Plymouth. Plymouth has acknowledged our right to walk on our own land without a permit on National Day of Mourning. Plymouth has agreed to make the truth part of its celebration of the pilgrim myth of thanksgiving. Under the terms of this agreement, we will have a number of important opportunities to address the lies and inaccuracies about "thanksgiving"and the history of Indigenous peoples that have been disseminated not only in Plymouth but throughout the country. We are confident that this agreement represents a tremendous victory for the struggle of Native people to have our voices heard and respected.

This victory did not happen because of the courts or the politicians or any individuals. This agreement and the dropping of the charges have come about as a result of the peoples' struggle, as a result of the work of hundreds of our supporters from around the world. It comes as a result of the tremendous sacrifices that have been made by many, and in particular the Plymouth 25 defendants themselves.

We want to thank all of our sisters and brothers from the Four Directions who were arrested with us last year, and who have stayed strong despite a lot of pressures. We want to thank our elders for their wisdom and encouragement. We also want to thank our lawyers, who have done a great and often thankless job. They are: Michael Altman, Danny Beck, Dave Nathanson, John Reinstein, and Barry Wilson. All who took part have written a new chapter in the struggle.

We note that the United States government made -- and then broke -- more than 350 treaties with Native nations. We sincerely hope that Plymouth will not follow that example, and that it will honor its commitments in this agreement. For our part, United American Indians of New England will follow the example of our ancestors. We will honor our commitments.

Our organization was born out of struggle, and we will continue to demand justice for all Native people and freedom for our brother, political prisoner Leonard Peltier.

We very much look forward to the 29th National Day of Mourning this year, which will be held in Plymouth at 12 noon on "thanksgiving" day, November 26, 1998. We expect that many hundreds of people will be coming to National Day of Mourning from all over the country. As has been the case every year since 1970, Indigenous peoples from throughout the Americas and our supporters will gather to show our strength and unity, to speak the truth about our history as well as what is going on in many parts of Indian Country today.

Settlement Highlights

The right of the United American Indians of New England to demonstrate on Cole's Hill and to march in Plymouth on National Day of Mourning is recognized in perpetuity without the requirement of a permit.

All charges against the Plymouth 25 defendants are dropped.

Plymouth pays $100,000 to the Metacom Education Fund for education on the true history of Native people, pays $20,000 to the A.C.L.U. for legal fees to the Plymouth 25 defendants' lawyers, and pays $15,000 for 2 plaques, one on Cole's Hill commemorating the National Day of Mourning and one in Plymouth's Post Office Square telling the history of Metacom, also known as King Philip, whose head was posted on a pike in that square for 25 years after he was killed by the English. No payments will be made to any individuals as part of the settlement.

Text of Plaque on Cole's Hill

Since 1970, Native Americans have gathered at noon on Cole's Hill in Plymouth to commemorate a National Day of Mourning on the US Thanksgiving holiday. Many Native Americans do not celebrate the arrival of the Pilgrims and other European settlers. To them, Thanksgiving Day is a reminder of the genocide of millions of their people, the theft of their lands, and the relentless assault on their culture. Participants in a National Day of Mourning honor Native ancestors and the struggles of Native peoples to survive today. It is a day of remebrance and spiritual connection as well as a protest of the racism and oppression which Native Americans continue to experience.

Text of Plaque Commemorating Metacomet (King Phillip) in Plymouth's Post Office Square

After the Pilgrims' arrival, Native Americans in New England grew increasingly frustrated with the English settlers' abuse and treachery. Metacomet (King Philip), a son of the Wampanoag sachem known as the Massasoit (Ousameqin), called upon all Native people to unite to defend their homelands against encroachment. The resulting "King Philip's War" lasted from 1675-1676. Metacomet was murdered in Rhode Island in August 1676, and his body was mutilated. His head was impaled on a pike and was displayed near this site for more than 20 years. One hand was sent to Boston, the other to England. Metacomet's wife and son, along with the families of many of the Native American combatants, were sold into slavery in the West Indies by the English victors.

Agreement Between the Town of Plymouth and the United American Indians of New England

The Town of Plymouth (hereinafter "Plymouth") and the United American Indians of New England (hereinafter "UAINE") having reached an amicable resolution of their outstanding differences, hereby agree to the following terms:

1. UAINE will be allowed to conduct a demonstration, which may include a march, between the hours of 12 p.m. and 3 p.m. every Thanksgiving Day/Day of Mourning, beginning at Cole's Hill in the Town of Plymouth. Plymouth will not require UAINE to apply for a permit from plymouth to conduct such demonstration and/or march.

2. UAINE agrees that it will give notice to PLYMOUTH of the route, time, and the approximate number of expected marchers on or before November 1 of any year in which the demonstration includes a march.

3. UAINE agrees that it will use its best efforts to maintain order for the demonstration and the march.

4. PLYMOUTH officials will work with UAINE so that preparatory activities for the noon assembly at Cole's Hill will be facilitated.

5. The Town Manager of Plymouth will serve as a liaison with UAINE for the purpose of facilitating Day of Mourning activities in 1998 and future years. The parties agree to confer with each other regarding those activities.

6. The parties agree that after November 26, 1998, representatives of UAINE and the Town Manager of Plymouth will confer to discuss the activities of 1998 and the lessons learned from such activities.

7. UAINE agrees that they will publicize these agreements regarding the Day of Mourning through whatever means necessary, including UAINE and related web sites, and will urge peaceful participation in the 1998 demonstration.

8. PLYMOUTH is providing a letter from the Pilgrim Society dated September 14, 1998, regarding the Pilgrim Society's compliance with the Native Graves Protection and Restoration Act.

9. PLYMOUTH will use its best efforts with the Plymouth School Department and UAINE to locate one or more facilities where UAINE will be able to serve a meal for the Day of Mourning participants on November 26, 1998. To the extent that a custodian or other school personnel are required to be present, PLYMOUTH will absorb the cost for November 26, 1998.

10. Plymouth agrees that it will ask the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to open Myles Standish Park for the use of Day of Mourning participants on November 26 and November 27, 1998, for the purpose of camping.

11. PLYMOUTH agrees that the National Day of Mourning will be listed as a formal event on all calendars that list official events of [the] Town of Plymouth.

12. PLYMOUTH agrees that Destination Plymouth will make available a UAINE brochure describing the National Day of Mourning which brochure will be produced by UAINE.

13. PLYMOUTH agrees to make available to UAINE its "showmobile" for use during the National Day of Mourning speeches. If UAINE elects to use the "showmobile," the Town of Plymouth will ask for the appropriate permits from the State of Massachusetts. UAINE recognizes that PLYMOUTH cannot guarantee that those permits will be issued. If UAINE elects to provide its own stage and sound system, PLYMOUTH will cooperate to facilitate its installation and powering on the Day of Mourning.

14. The Board of Selectmen of Plymouth will recommend to the Superintendent of Schools that he or his designee meet with UAINE to discuss materials presented from the Native American perspective that could be included in the Town of Plymouth's school curriculum as well as outside speakers who could contribute a similar perspective to the students of the Town of Plymouth.

15. The Board of Selectmen of Plymouth will urge the Old Colony Memorial either to include an insert provided by UAINE in its November 19, 1998, edition or to provide a half page in the first section of the newspaper on that day at no cost to UAINE. The insert or half page will include information about Day of Mourning and the text of Frank James' 1970 speech.

16. The insurer for the Town of Plymouth will provide $15,000.00 to defray the cost of two plaques, said funds will be held in an interest bearing account by Brody, Hardoon, Perkins and Kesten and will be distributed only for the use of the erection of said plaques. The first plaque will be created for prominent display near the statue of Massasoit on Cole's Hill to commemorate that the National Day of Mourning has been observed in Plymouth since 1970. The PARTIES understand the language and placement of the plaque is subject to approval by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the Massachusetts Historical Society and agree that PLYMOUTH will cooperate fully to obtain the approval. The second plaque will be created for placement in Post Office Square in memory of King Philip. If suitable placement for the plaque is on private or church property, PLYMOUTH will attempt to obtain approval from the property owners. The proposed language for the plaque has been provided by UAINE and will be subject to approval by the Massachusetts Historical Society who will be asked to confirm the accuracy of the facts set forth in the plaque. No higher level of accuracy for the ancient facts set forth on the plaque will be demanded than has been required for representations that are made in the Town of Plymouth with regard to Plymouth Rock and the traditional story by the Town of Plymouth about the rock and the early history of Plymouth.

17. The PARTIES understand that a substantial monument memorializing the deaths of Native Americans and located in the Town of Plymouth waterfront is being contemplated by the Commonwealth. The Town Manager of Plymouth will periodically inquire of the D.E.M. and will advise UAINE of the progress of the plans to build such a monument. PLYMOUTH will also urge the state to consider the views of UAINE regarding the proposed artist and design of any such monument.

18. The PARTIES understand that PLYMOUTH is considering the exploration of sources of funding for a monument to Native Americans. If PLYMOUTH is able to secure any such funding, it will include UAINE in a committee to advise with respect to the artist, design, and placement of such monument.

19. The General Star Insurance Company will donate $100,000.00 on or before October 27, 1998, to the ACLU Foundation of Massachusetts for the Metacom Education Fund.

20. The General Star Insurance Company will donate $20,000.00 on or before October 27, 1998, to the ACLU Foundation of Massachusetts.

21. UAINE agrees to provide Releases of any and all potential civil claims against the Town of Plymouth and other law enforcement agencies involved in the 1997 Day of Mourning incidents from all 23 individuals against whom criminal charges were pending as of October 16, 1998.

22. PLYMOUTH agrees to provide a Release to each individual described in the previous paragraph of any and all claims by the Town of Plymouth or its employees or agents against such individuals.

23. A copy of the resolution by the Board of Selectmen of the Town of Plymouth to authorize its Town Manager to execute this agreement is hereto attached.

Signed under the pains and penalties of perjury.
October 19, 1998
Eleanor Beth for the Town of Plymouth
Mahtowin Munro and Roland "Moonanum" James for UAINE