April 25, 2009

William Means on education

From Wounded Knee to Comm Ave

William Means will lead a tree blessing and speak todayWhat is the most important issue facing American Indians today?

Treaty rights. Article 6 of the U.S. Constitution states that treaty law shall be supreme. Treaties are not signed between cities and states. They are signed between nations. That is why Indians have a special legal and political relationship with the U.S. government that no other minority has. People need to understand that Indian people are a nation within a nation. People get the idea that we’re getting something for nothing, when in fact we gave America everything we had. Through these treaties we ceded millions and millions of acres for the meager services we now get on reservations. We have had to overcome a tremendous amount of stereotypes and racist and biased education just to let people know that we do indeed have legal standing in this country and that our cultures are alive and well.

What can individuals do to improve conditions for indigenous cultures?

Education is the most important thing. You have to understand the indigenous people who live or who once inhabited the area where you live. You have to know their history. And you have to become active in your community. This activism can take many forms. Join the Sierra Club. Work against industries polluting our Earth. Make your relatives and friends aware of environmental challenges threatening humanity.
Comment:  William Means, brother of activist Russell Means, notes the link between sovereignty and treaty rights and battling racism and stereotyping. You can't understand what Indians are unless you understand what they aren't.

Thus, fighting mascots and other stereotypes is far from a waste of time. In fact, it's critical to achieving an honest understanding of Indian issues.

To reiterate, "Education is the most important thing." Thanks, William, that's just what I'm doing by working at PECHANGA.net, writing for Indian Country Today, and posting here. I trust you approve.

For more on the subject, see The Worst Native Problem.

1 comment:

Stephen said...

I wonder if he's a Jew hater like his vile brother?