Government Affairs Committee - Spring 2004

Al Tonetti, Committee Chair

State Government Affairs

Of the more than 700 bills introduced into the 125th General Assembly (2003-2004), few have even indirect effects on archaeology.

The Ohio Historical Society (OHS) is schedule to report to the State Controlling Board at the Board's June meeting on how it will address the recommendations contained in the spring 2002 report of the House Select Committee Studying the Effectiveness of Ohio's Historical Programs and Partnerships. These recommendations include a few that were presented to the Select Committee by the OAC during our testimony in the fall and winter of 2001. The OAC will request a copy of OHS's report when it becomes available and will reply to the Board and General Assembly as necessary. We will make every effort to keep the membership aware of these matters and post the OHS report and our reply on the OAC website.

Late last year the Ohio Senate issued a commendation "honoring the Catawba Tribe of Carr's Run." Commendations are constituent driven, seeking recognition of achievement. They do not confer legal rights or in this case official state recognition like many other states or the Federal Government does with respect to Indian tribes. The text of the commendation reads:

"On behalf of the members of the Senate of the 125th General Assembly of Ohio, we are pleased to pay tribute to the Catawba Tribe of Carr's Run on its innumerable contributions to the State of Ohio.

Historically called Catawba by Americans, the Saponi Nation was formed when the Cayuga and Catawba tribes, led by John Logan, united in 1674 and settled in the area that became Chillicothe. Also known as the Toderigeroonies, the members of the Saponi Nation are the heirs and descendants of the former Ohio River Valley Sioux and are made up of the groups called Aganatchi, Occaneechi, Moneton, Monacan, Saponi, Tutelo, Ofo, Keyauwee, Meipontski, Stegaraki, Cheraw, Stuckenock, and Ena. The fabric of America is woven with many threads, each contributing to its strength, but lest the fabric be weakened, each nationality group must maintain pride in its identity. We applaud the Catawba Tribe of Carr's Run on retaining its ethnic heritage over the centuries and on contributing to the greater society and to Ohio history.

Thus, with sincere pleasure, we recognize the Catawba Tribe of Carr's Run and salute all those who have preserved its vital culture over the years."

Senator Doug White, President of the Ohio Senate, Senator Ray Miller, 15th Senatorial District, and Senator John A. Carey, Jr., 17th Senatorial District signed the commendation.

Federal Government Affairs

On April 19, 2004, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit rejected an appeal by American Indian tribes and refused to reconsider its previous ruling permitting the scientific study of Kennewick Man, a case in which the OAC filed a friend of the court brief on behalf of the scientists. The Indian tribes are likely to try and appeal this matter to the U.S. Supreme Court. You can access many of the court records concerning this matter, including the OAC's friend of the court brief, at http://www.friendsofpast.org.

The May 2004 NAGPRA Review Committee meeting was cancelled because the Secretary of the Interior has not appointed members to fill three vacancies on the Review Committee. In a related matter, the Native American Alliance of Ohio, a frequent attendee at NAGPRA Review Committee meetings, extended an offer to the Review Committee to hold its fall 2005 meeting in central Ohio. The Review Committee may decide on this offer at their next meeting.

Reauthorization of the six-year Federal highway bill is being negotiated between the House and Senate. Differences in funding levels between the House ($284 billion) and Senate ($318) approved bills and other matters, including revision of section 4(f) of the Department of Transportation Act, must be worked out before the bill is sent to the President. The President promised to veto any bill that exceeds $256 billion.

Amendments to the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA), HR 3223, are pending before the House Resources Committee. The amendments are generally nonsubstantive, but one calls for changing the funding level for the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) from a specific amount ($4 million/year) over a specific period of time (1997 through 2005) to a level necessary to carry out its duties. Another enables the ACHP to enter into cooperative agreements with Federal agencies to improve agency compliance with the NHPA

The Get Outdoors Act (HR 4100) was recently introduced with bipartisan support. This bill would, among other things, provide a badly needed increase in funding for the Historic Preservation Fund (HPF), which among other things funds State and Tribal Historic Preservation Offices. The HPF would be funded at $160 million/year. The $3.125 billion bill would fund conservation programs paid for through revenues from offshore oil and gas production leases.

 

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