July 30, 2010

US should fly tribal flags

A Plea for Equal Presentation--American Indian Flags

By Julianne Jennings[T]he U.S. flag fails to acknowledge in the canton or "union" (50 white stars on a blue field) the 565 Indian tribal nations within our nation, thus excluding Indians from society. Our nations young school children are not taught that the fifty stars on the union jack represent fifty Native nations, that later became the United States of America through conquest. Tragically, the development of the United States is drenched in blood (usually Indian), stolen lands (always Indian), and broken promises. Yet despite removal, allotment, and termination, the tribes remain as viable political and cultural entities.

The "white washing" of history, represented by the American flag, also creates an opportunity for conflict for American Indian youth. For some, it reminds them of their social position in their schools and in public as a vanquished race; affecting school performance and self-esteem. Most classroom educators do not provide discussion on acknowledgement procedures and how it has restored many Indian tribes. Tribes have their own flags taking great pride in their culture and their continued existence for thousands of years that has had many influences on modern-day American culture. The lack of public presentation of American Indian flags should be viewed as racist and as an illegal denial of Indian civil rights and sovereign status.

If we are trying to add balance to the discourse and presentation of our collective history, I would like to suggest hanging tribal flags (tribes who occupy a particular state) on public buildings and schools along with the U.S. and state flag as a conscious effort towards inclusivity for its sovereign neighbors. For example, The State of Rhode Island could post the U.S., state and Narragansett Tribe (the principle people of Rhode Island) flags together on one pole.
Comment:  For more on the subject, see Minnesota Tribal Nations Plaza.

Below:  Tribal flags at the NMAI.


dmarks said...

Some good points.

But I did not get this part:

"Our nations young school children are not taught that the fifty stars on the union jack represent fifty Native nations, "

Where she get the 50 Native nations thing, or correlate each State to one Native nation, if that is what they are doing?

Rob said...

I'm not sure what Jennings meant by that. I thought she was saying something like this:

"It would be nice if teachers said the 50 stars represent 50 Native nations, even though they don't. Then we might not need to fly tribal flags. But since teachers don't take that imaginative approach, we need the flags."