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.


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.