November 03, 2009

Intro to tribal summits

To Form a More Perfect Union:  Tribal nations and the United States meet at summit

By Lise Balk King
The Native Voice
Special to
They have come by horse, train, car and bus, wagons and airplanes. They have swallowed pride and accepted harsh realities…and in the name of the very survival of their people, some have even walked countless miles, with families left behind for months and years…in the pursuit of petitioning the Great White Father in the Great White House.

The history of Indian tribal leaders taking their concerns to the President goes back all the way to George Washington. It covers virtually every administration since the founding fathers pledged to "form a more perfect union." Presidents have also petitioned tribes, through delegations and treaties, to address the wishes and concerns of the federal government in the name of Manifest Destiny and the best interests of Americans.

So it is not without precedence that Obama has scheduled a White House Tribal Nations Conference with leaders invited from all 564 federally recognized tribes November 5 at the Department of the Interior. President Bill Clinton hosted the first such meeting at the White House in 1994. It is, however, without equal in its potential for progress in US-tribal relations and affairs.

In reality, US-tribal relations were founded in genocide, stoked by warfare, crippled by broken treaties, and almost severed by the Termination policies of the 1950s. There is also precedence, therefore, for Indians' deep lack of trust in the promises made by presidents and their representatives.

But this historic event is less of a petitioning as it is a meeting at a common point in the road.

No comments: