We must be willing to compromise

Published 12:00 am Monday, September 23, 2002

After much posturing and wrangling it finally appears the 1,200-member Mattanock Town Task Force is ready to get down to business – namely, bullying Nansemond Tribe Chief Barry Bass into abandoning Lone Star Lakes as a sight for his proposed Indian cultural village.

Lone Star is the tribe’s ancestral home and for reasons unfathomable to Suffolk City officials, Bass is insistent that village be located there.

&uot;They once owned the land and couldn’t hold onto it,&uot; one task force member said privately. &uot;I don’t know why they think things will be any different this time around.&uot;

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The proposal has been controversial since Bass presented it in December. Interestingly, the formation of the task force has caused as much controversy as the village itself.

The Nansemond Tribe, in the eyes of city officials, has been completely unreasonable from the get go, acting as if they should have sort of say in the project.

&uot;Mattanock Town is a Nansemond Indian project and is a Nansemond Indian issue period,&uot; the chief wrote in his nonsensical rantings to Suffolk Mayor E. Dana Dickens.

But despite the obstructionist efforts of the tribe, a nice, little lily-white task force was appointed with a two-fold purpose: appease the Indians while at the same time making it possible for recreational boating to flourish on Lone Star Lakes.

It became apparent early on though that some diversity was needed among members of the task force. After their first meeting they recommended that Council offer the Indians rifles, whiskey and colored beads to abandon their claims to their ancestral lands.

Enter Council member Charles Brown, who argued that at the time the Nansemond Indians occupied Lone Star Lakes, African-Americans were unjustly enslaved by white European settlers and as such were denied an equal opportunity to cheat, rob and kill the Indians.

&uot;Simple human decency demands that we rectify this historical injustice,&uot;Brown said. &uot;We won’t be denied our place at the table this time.&uot;

Nobody on city council could argue with Brown’s logic, so the task force was expanded so that everyone would have an equal say on how to stick it to the Indians – 9 whites, 8 blacks and 3 Indians.

What could possibly be fairer than that?

Incredibly, the chief continued to complain – you simply can’t satisfy some people – but begrudgingly agreed to participate.

With that many people and groups – each with their own agenda – invariably the final recommendation presented to city council will diverge from the Nansemond’s original vision.

I happen to have it on good authority that Mattanock Town will be built on Lone Star Lakes and before you know it, tourists from all over the Eastern United States will be flocking to the authentic 17th century Indian village, enjoying traditional Native American music and dance at the Martin Luther King Jr. Amphitheater there and shopping at the village’s Gen. Robert E. Lee Memorial Gift Shop and Trading Post.

Things always have a way of working out for the best if people are willing to compromise a little.

Andy Prutsok is editor and publisher of the News-Herald.