December 31, 2006

Indian tribes operate nation-to-nation

Here's a letter that I believe The Day, a Connecticut newspaper, published March 3, 2002:To the Editor of The Day:

Regarding David B. Irons' Feb. 23 letter, Indian nations have rights guaranteed by Indian treaties and law. These stem from the fact that Indian nations are sovereign entities. They are not racial groups like the NAACP or the Congressional Black Caucus. They include people who are multiracial or even predominantly white by "blood."

Indian nations are political entities similar to the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and other U.S. territories. They have rights based on their political relationship to the federal government. The only difference is that Indian nations, unlike states and territories, determine their own membership.

Even if Indian nations didn't have legal treaties guaranteeing their rights, granting them "benefits" wouldn't discriminate on the basis of race. If any political entity—Egypt, California or the Cherokee Nation—receives more federal aid than Connecticut, that's a political decision, not a racial one. The racial makeup of the recipient is irrelevant since it's a sovereign-to-sovereign relationship.

Indian nations get only a tiny fraction of the benefits a state like Connecticut gets. Indian nations get only a tiny fraction of the benefits owed them under a plethora of legal treaties. If the United States doesn't want to live up to the treaties it signed, it can always void them and return the continent to its original owners.

Rob Schmidt

The writer is publisher of Peace Party, a comic book series featuring young Native Americans.

12 comments:

writerfella said...

Writerfella here --
Which makes one wonder exactly why AIM campaigned and still may be campaigning for Natives to divest themselves of their tribal identities and nationalities and languages and cultures and become just 'Indians' so that all may join in becoming a political force or group as have the Blacks and thence be able to lobby Washington successfully for their rights and privileges under the law. The only thing is, that also would mean abandoning or abrogating the treaties as they exist, whether served or ignored. Whatever rights that do exist also would evaporate, including status as sovereign nations and so on. Natives would go from the lesser of all worlds to the worst of all worlds, admittedly not that far but still the least desirable of statuses possible. Maybe it is time for us Natives to closely regard their AIMs but not their Means...
All Best
Russ Bates
'writerfella'

writerfella said...

Writerfella here --
Which makes one wonder exactly why AIM campaigned and still may be campaigning for Natives to divest themselves of their tribal identities and nationalities and languages and cultures and become just 'Indians' so that all may join in becoming a political force or group as have the Blacks and thence be able to lobby Washington successfully for their rights and privileges under the law. The only thing is, that also would mean abandoning or abrogating the treaties as they exist, whether served or ignored. Whatever rights that do exist also would evaporate, including status as sovereign nations and so on. Natives would go from the lesser of all worlds to the worst of all worlds, admittedly not that far but still the least desirable of statuses possible. Maybe it is time for us Natives to closely regard their AIMs but not their Means...
All Best
Russ Bates
'writerfella'

writerfella said...

Writerfella here --
Oops, either writerfella hit the wrong key, or there's a terrible echo in here...
All Best
Russ Bates
'writerfella'

Not a Sioux said...

Oh. I thought that was your evil twin.

Not a Sioux said...

Oh. I thought that was your evil twin.

writerfella said...

Writerfella here --
In fact, writerfella's 'evil twin', Wendell, is a living and functioning part within himself, despite the fact that his twin Wendell died after half a day back in 1941. That is why writerfella is 'two-spirited' but not for the same reasons that others call themselves 'two-spirited'. It just may be that any missteps that writerfella makes, or at least makes as his intellectual duplications, are for that reason. He never has considered that, but now wishes to say, thank you for the as-yet-unconsidered indicative.
All Best
Russ Bates
'writerfella'

RachelsTavern said...

writer fella said, "...become just 'Indians' so that all may join in becoming a political force or group as have the Blacks and thence be able to lobby Washington successfully for their rights and privileges under the law."

I had a similar debate on my site about "panethnic" movements. Here's a link to the post http://www.rachelstavern.com/?p=19

Unfortunately, I had to delete the comments when I transfered servers, but my post is still there.

I think the comparision with Blacks is unfair because Blacks were almost completely stripped of their ethnic identities due to relocation and the fact that slave owners prohibited any practice of ethnic customs on plantations. Moreover, the slaves on a given plantation often came from vastly different ethnic groups and were forced to communicate using the language and many of the norms of the white slave owners.

writerfella said...

Writerfella here --
Who is this woman and what rock has she been hiding behind all these years?
Does she truly believe that Native tribes weren't devastated or diasporized by relocations or forbidden under gunpoint NOT to practice their tribal customs or use their Native languages or to ever leave the ground their captors controlled? But then again, maybe she's all tricked up like G.W., who thinks The Trail of Tears is one of the new rides up at Six Flags.
In any case, the comparison was not writerfella's, but rather that of AIM propagandists who tried that spiel in the various Native schools, their own brand of coyote and mustang show that, fortunately, most of the kids knew nothing or thought nothing about. Walk into an average American sixth-grade class and begin trying to convince them to abandon their cultures into "the collective unconscious" and see how far you get...
All Best
Russ Bates
'writerfella'

Rob said...

About Rachel’s Tavern

Rachel is a sociology professor who lives and blogs in the New York City metro area. Her research and teaching focus on race, African American Studies, gender, sexuality, and popular culture.

Rob said...

The US government did try to strip the Indians of their ethnic identities and prohibit the practice of their ethnic customs. True, it didn't succeed nearly as well as the plantation owners did with their slaves. On the other hand, the plantation owners targeted only the Africans in America, not African cultures in general. Neither they nor the US government targeted the people remaining in Africa for destruction.

writerfella said...

Writerfella here --
Add in the historical fact that, though Natives kept slaves, they themselves made for the poorest slaves of all for EuroMan. It is written many places that, rather than accept their captivity and do the demanded work, Natives simply would lay down and die. Thus, African slaves became a necessity for the mothers of inventory...
All Best
Russ Bates
'writerfella'

writerfella said...

Writerfella here --
Oh, and the next time Rachel's Tavern appears here, tell her writerfella will take an Amstel...
All Best
Russ Bates
'writerfella'