Pamplin Media Group – Land recognition proposal splits Gladstone City Council

The proposed recognition of indigenous lands drew personal attacks at a city council meeting.

Gladstone’s proposal to read an acknowledgment of Indigenous lands ahead of city council meetings this month has led to regional controversy and deepening political divisions among council members.

Gladstone City Councilor Annessa Hartman, a member of the Cayuga Nation, put forward a proposal last month to begin council meetings by reading an acknowledgment of the Grand Ronde tribes who occupied the Gladstone area prior to its incorporation as city.

“It’s important because the indigenous peoples have not been recognized,” Hartman said.

Hartman’s proposal was defeated 3-4 October 12, with some city councilors expressing concern about adding to their list of items they are trying to complete before the end of the year. Ahead of the Gladstone meeting on November 9 and in anticipation of National Native American Heritage Month, city officials received signed statements from more than 30 elected officials across Oregon, including officials from state, school boards and government officials. municipal councils which have adopted land recognitions in their jurisdictions.

At the November 9 meeting, North Clackamas School Board member Kathy Wai read a statement to Gladstone officials on behalf of the Color Caucus Oregon School Board members.

“Land recognition is the first step, and certainly not the last, in healing the generational trauma suffered by Indigenous peoples,” the caucus statement said. “For Gladstone City Council to begin to heal, it would be a step in the right direction for non-natives to take the initiative and include land recognition in their daily work.”

As city officials discussed whether to reconsider their vote on land recognition, Gladstone councilor Randy Ripley announced he could claim indigenous status, citing a grandmother born in a stockpile.

Councilor Greg Alexander said Ripley’s announcement contradicts Hartman’s previous claim in 2020 of becoming the first Indigenous member elected to Gladstone City Council since Ripley took office two years earlier.

Ripley said he identified himself as Caucasian on official government documents because of his family’s other racial identifiers. He said he had not previously discussed his Indigenous heritage because he did not want to use it for political purposes.

“Complaining about this stuff is getting so old; I’ve never complained about my heritage,” Ripley said. “I don’t use my inheritance as leverage or as a commodity.”

Hartman criticized Ripley for not bringing up his legacy until now in an apparent effort to gain “weight” in the land recognition discussion.

“All of you, if you are Native American, should see this honor,” Hartman told Ripley.

Telling Hartman to “get over it,” Ripley has since maintained her statements at the board meeting, while Hartman said she was disappointed in herself for her behavior later in the meeting. .

“I’m disappointed in myself that I lost my temper, but if we can normalize racism and ignorance, we can normalize marginalized people who lose their temper,” Hartman said after the meeting.

Councilor Matt Tracy said land recognitions should not be of concern as government agencies officially recognize many other types of events and facts. Tracy sarcastically praised Mayor Tammy Stempel’s habit of announcing an obscure holiday and suggested that no harm could come from recognition honoring the Natives who previously inhabited Gladstone.

“I attended meeting after meeting where we honored Happy Bouncing Ball Day, Happy Cupcake Day, ad nauseum, in our live meetings, and I appreciate that, Mayor,” said Tracy.

Stempel said she was happy with Tracy’s reminder to celebrate the holidays at council meetings, promising to revert to her habit of announcing special holidays, but said recognition of Indigenous lands was different. , requiring an official city resolution. Hartman agreed that recognition of the land should not be compared to holiday celebrations, and compared it more to the city’s practice of reciting the pledge of allegiance before every meeting.

Ripley said he was embarrassed that his Indigenous heritage was associated with a call for recognition of the land and was “offended” by the suggestion.

“No one in my family complains where they are from,” he said.

Hartman said no one “whined” asking for field reconnaissance.

“I’m not sitting here saying it’s embarrassing that you show up in your pajamas to the council meeting; I’m not sitting here and saying it’s embarrassing that you choose to slice the pizza in front of the camera, “Hartman said, before the mayor said,” Enough, it’s over. ”

Ripley ate pizza and wore slippers at town meetings, but said he wasn’t embarrassed to do so. Hartman could only say a few more words before city officials adjourned the meeting.

“These are people who still live here; he can say it’s embarrassing that I want to do the native people honor,” Hartman said before Stempel moved to adjourn the meeting.

Hartman said the abrupt end of the meeting and the city council’s opposition to recognition of the land “seemed personal” because of his indigenous status. While she believes Gladstone’s elected officials are unwilling to listen to her, she still hopes they will listen to the growing appeals of other elected officials across Oregon.

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