By Dina Gilio-Whitaker
If a historical site with artifacts that date back at least 13,000 years can’t be considered “antiquity,” what can?
The statement was so asinine that even Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Az.), bless his heart, wrote a commentary in ICTMN to express his concern about congress’ growing hostility toward Indian country in general, reflected in part by Bishop’s absurd claim.
Rep. Grijalva wrote that congress doesn’t take tribal sovereignty seriously, and that it “is based not on legitimate political differences but on a prevailing attitude that Native American history is important only when it is convenient, Native American economic interests are secondary and Native American land is held by tribes only through the grace and favor of the federal government.”
True enough. If we break it down even more, the workings of the U.S. as a settler society is revealed. Since the goal of the settler society is the elimination of Native populations in order to gain access to Native lands, there is no reason to recognize indigenous sovereignty as a legitimate form of sovereignty, equal to that of state sovereignty. It does, however, pay lip service to Native sovereignty in order to uphold the charade of democracy and implicitly or explicitly deny the genocidal impulse of the state.
Let’s be real. However magnanimous the creation of a national monument at Basin and Range appears to be (in the interest, at least partly in this case, of preserving an ancient Native site), the land is not in Native hands. It is held by the state. By publicly owning a Native site, the state possesses Native history as its own. It says “this is OUR history, OUR heritage.” In this way the settler state erases the Native and stakes its own claim to indigeneity. But I digress.
noun, plural antiquities.
5. Usually, antiquities. something belonging to or remaining from ancient times, as monuments, relics, or customs.