February 01, 2012

What if US honored treaties?

A columnist speculates on what would happen if the US lets its Indians tribes be truly independent nations.

What if Tomorrow the Treaties Were Honored?

By Wizipan GarriotAlmost every discussion is about why the treaties need to be honored, but I’ve only heard one other person ever ask, “What if tomorrow the treaties were honored?”

In all honesty, as things stand today, we would most likely descend into chaos, and the United States and United Nations would have to be called back in to provide food, and safety. We’d be back to relying upon the Government for everything. Here’s how, and why.

Imagine one Monday morning the leadership of the U.S. Government making a series of courtesy phone calls to the elected leadership (remember this is the only official leadership the government honors) of the tribes comprising the Oceti Sakowin (Great Sioux Nation). The officials, not quite sure of who to contact, call everyone as there is no phone number, fax number, mailing address, or website for them to find contact information for the Great Sioux Nation. The Secretary of State of is hung up on by one tribal receptionist. Letters are then faxed saying “the full terms of the 1868 treaty will be honored, and that in the spirit of true nation-to-nation relations the U.S. Government would like to commence meetings with the following leaders to discuss logistics: the President of the Great Sioux Nation; the person in charge of immigration, so we can negotiate the rights of U.S. citizens living within the boundaries of the Great Sioux Nation; the person in charge of mail delivery and service; the person in charge of education; the chief official responsible for law enforcement; the lead trade representative to discuss trade negotiations….” The letter goes on in a similar fashion requesting meetings to make various domestic and international agreements. Word spreads quickly and tribal leaders’ phones are inundated. Everyone is talking and some begin proclaiming themselves the rightful leaders by birth, because someone gave them a bonnet, because they were elected by the people, or simply because. It is decided a meeting needs to be held, but with so many interests at stake it is difficult deciding who should be invited, run the meeting, be allowed to speak, etc. Finally, it is decided that everyone should be allowed to have a voice and fully express themselves. At the same time, corporate leaders and trade representatives from other countries are clamoring for meetings to ensure continuation of business or to be the first to strike new business deals. The meeting goes on for two weeks straight, and tempers ebb and flow as those who do not embody the 7 virtues of the Canunpa demand to be heard, creating strife.

Meanwhile, resources and services begin to be stretched thin. Without agreements for delivery of goods to stores and supermarkets, and even fuel, alarm starts to set in. In panic, store owners raise prices, and some lawyers even begin to question whether the U.S. dollar is valid within the Great Sioux Nation. Because there is yet to be official leaders to negotiate continuation of treaty rights to health education and welfare, basic services such as law enforcement, health care, and education begin to suffer as police officers, doctors, and teachers have no mechanism to be paid and must volunteer their services. Interstate 90 is lawless as there are not enough tribal police officers to patrol the entire boundaries of the Great Sioux Reservation.

Still the meetings go on past two weeks…. Things really start to deteriorate.
Comment:  Good points. Which is why a stunt like Russell Means's Republic of Lakotah was such a joke. If the US acknowledged his "country's" sovereignty, he couldn't handle it. His republic would immediately collapse into chaos.

Granting true sovereignty would take a generation or more of negotiations, I imagine. It would require solutions to everything from defending the independent nation from foreign attack to maintaining the interstate roads. It could be done, but it wouldn't be easy.

Therefore, the best bet is that it'll never happen. The US can't manage large-scale projects like the Panama Canal, the moon landing, or climate change anymore. And this would be roughly equivalent to that.

For more on treaties, see US = "Baby Country" and Conservatives Want to Nullify Laws, Indians.


Anonymous said...

So...we shouldn't be striving towards sovereignty? This is such a disappointing post.

Jaine said...

I agree Anonymous - just because it is wont happen over night doesn't mean it isn't worth striving for.

Sovereignity is always worth striving for.

Tiocfaidh ar la
(Irish - Our day will come)

Ka whawhai tonu matou ake ake ake
(Maori - we will fight forever and ever / a struggle without end)

Shadow Wolf said...

While I agree that Russell Mean's "Republic of Lakotah" was a joke. But the Libertarian mindset in Tribal Leaders still persists.

What the Tribal leaders mean by "Sovereignty" today, has nothing to do with being completely and 110% independent from the U.S. oversight.

It simply means that they want more economic freedom with less government intrusion and/or restrictions. The ability to be the ultimate decider in what the U.S. can or cannot do on it's Tribal lands, with regards to nuclear, energy, farming and agricultural and other resources etc.

It simply means that the Tribal Leaders want more power in their police force/authority to be arrest, detain and apprehend non-Tribal criminals who commit or engage in criminal activity in Indian Country.

It simply means that Tribal Leaders want representatives in Washington D.C. who understand the needs of Tribal peoples and what's best for them, rather than a clueless white spokeshole, who harbors no understandings of Tribal Affairs.

In case point, most Tribal Leaders today know there is no such thing as complete and 110% independent "Sovereignty", as described in this article. Because the gist of the article makes a valid point. It is unrealistic to assumed otherwise. Tribal Leaders know they cannot function without the U.S. Government.

So this whole "Sovereignty" issue is taken out of context. It has nothing to do with being totally Independent, free of U.S. jurisdiction or authority. It just means that Tribal Governments want more freedom in their own affairs--economically, politically, financially, spiritually and socially.

Anonymous said...

Well, Means's "Republic" was a joke. Basically, Russell Means is one of those "I'm still relevant, dammit!" people.

Rob said...

Here's someone who apparently thinks true sovereignty is possible for Indian nations:

Doug George-Kanentiio: Solving Canada's Indian 'problem'

Without Tecumseh's military genius the red white and blue would be flying from the Arctic to the Gulf of Mexico, from St. John's to Victoria.

That is but one instance of the enormous historical and physical debt owed to aboriginal people. It can only be repaid by liberating the First Nations from the suffocating grip of the Indian Act and other forms of institutional bondage. The Indian Act has no place in a free nation and has to be repealed.

Secondly, the reserve system must end. Canada has to concede that the "Crown" does not have underlying ownership to native lands but that territorial status is retained by the Native nations based upon aboriginal title. The Native nations must also have direct, unimpeded access and control over the natural resources of their respective territories including water, minerals and airspace. The definition of aboriginal territory should be interpreted to mean all areas not specifically ceded by treaty and indigenous to a specific native nation.