November 09, 2007

Tired of broken promises

A rambling but interesting manifesto that starts with a riff on the Chrystos poem:

Native InformationTHIS IS NOT A TREATY! We're not interested in making any treaties, smoking any peace-pipes, or shaking anyone's hand across conference tables or over log-burning firepits. We're not here to negotiate. We're not here to sign our names on "old sorry paper." And we're certainly not here to amuse. We quite frankly don't believe in treaties, treaty discourse, treaty politics, or (rather) in people who never intended to honor their treaties with indigenous peoples in the first place.

We're tired of walking on the long trail of broken promises and well-known betrayals, especially as it leads to a people who claim that the word is sacred, even an embodiment of their god, the flesh of their beliefs, the beginning of time. We've learned from this history of making treaties, governments going back on their word after they've gotten indigenous peoples to move off lands valued only for material resources, and we're simply not interested in playing this game with anyone, any longer.

We understand that our ancestors initially entered into contractual relations with European settlers because they expected the colonizers to keep their word, to keep their place. It wasn't naiveté, it was trust. After all, inter-tribal discussions existed and worked quite well to the benefit of those who participated. But European settlers entered into such relationships with the "uncivilized Indian" because they anticipated that the Native would eventually disappear and thereby render treaties irrelevant.

Who would have ever thought that such an uncivilized race of barbarians would endure, let alone live to protest when assurances created in treaties were reneged upon? But indigenous peoples have survived. And they've learned English. And they're protesting in courts for governments to be held responsible to the agreements that they have made in their treaties. And colonizers, waiting for the Native to perish, actively, and in various ways, circulate narratives of the Vanishing Indian in order to maintain the myth of the inevitability of the Native's disappearance.

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