Editors, Vineyard Gazette:
The following is an open letter that was sent to PBS television from three New England Native American tribes.
Regarding After The Mayflower, (the first episode of We Shall Remain), the tribal historic preservation officers of the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah), the Narragansett Indian Tribe and the tribal historic preservation authority of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe question the potential of this mini-series to “... tell the story of pivotal moments in U.S. history from the Native American perspective.”
The tribal historic preservation officers are charged by their federally recognized tribes and the National Historic Preservation Act with the responsibility to protect, preserve and advise on regional tribal history and culture. Our ancestors are central to the events following the Mayflower landing, yet our historical guardians, our tribal historic preservation officers, were avoided by this PBS production.
This production uses National Endowment for the Humanities funds. We maintain that Section 106 consultation under the National Historic Preservation Act should have been addressed as the project involved federal money in the public presentation of tribal history. Our tribal cultural authorities were not contacted to consult on the authenticity of the production’s script, intent, process or end product.
PBS has given credence to a radically altered interpretation of the great Shawnee Chief Tecumseh.
We have not struggled to maintain our tribal cultural identities for nearly 400 years since colonization to be disrespectfully ignored and dismissed or to have our history misrepresented for the purpose of entertainment.
Your disrespect of the tribes has done a disservice to your audience. Please note that our histories go back tens of thousands of years prior to these “pivotal” conflicts in defense of our families, our ancestral lands and our ancestral way of life.
Finally, PBS in its support and broadcasting of this production has given credence to a radically altered interpretation of the great Shawnee Chief Tecumseh’s 1811 declaration to President James Madison’s messenger by deleting its land-based implication. We Shall Remain implies a call for pity and does not carry the same declaration and meaning as “... and here, we shall remain.”
George (Chucky) Green
Bettina M. Washington