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H2O Man Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-09-09 09:33 PM
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Indian Country
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{1} "What we have learned is that the perpetrator of a wrong never forgives his victim."
--John Ross, Cherokee; 1839

My daughter subscribes to a magazine for high school students, "American History." The newest edition has a feature article by Paul VanDevelder, an outstanding author and documentary filmmaker who lives in Oregon. In this article, he details the sad history between the United States and the Indian Nations, a topic that most people are at least somewhat familiar with. Perhaps it can be summed up by saying that every treaty made between the US and Indian Nations has been broken, and in every instance, they were broken by the United States.

Most people are also aware of the fact that the US government (and some state governments) took Indian lands in one of two ways: They began by restricting Indians to small sections of their original homelands, and then starting in the 1840s, removed the various Indian people, and herded them onto small sections of land known as "reservations.". Sections that were later wanted by non-Indians were then taken by way of the 1887 Dawes Act., in violation of the treaties, as "surplus." What they were left with was considered to be the least desired lands.

Today, that is changing. As VanDevelder notes, "At a time when the nations industrial machinery and extractive are running out of mineral resources, Indian lands hold 65 percent of the nations uranium, untold ounces of gold, silver, cadmium, platinum, and manganese, and billions of board feet of virgin timber. In the ground beneath that timber are billions of cubic feet of natural gas, millions of barrels of oil, and a treasure chest of copper and zinc. Perhaps even more critically, Indian lands contain 20 percent of the nations fresh water."

{2} "The American Indians have been oppressed and brutalized, deprived of their ancestral lands, and denied the opportunity to control their own destiny. Through it all, the story of the Indian is a record of endurance and survival, of adaption and creativity in the face of overwhelming obstacles."
--President Richard Nixon; July 8, 1970

In Haudenosaunee culture, it has long been understood that human beings are a mixture of "good" and "bad." When Neil Young sang the lyric, "Even Richard Nixon has got a soul," it came as no surprise to any traditional Iroquois. For not only had Nixon been the first US President to deliver a major speech advocating for the US to recognize and respect Indian rights, but he even began work on the American Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act. Of course, he left office before it passed in Congress in 1975.

Earlier today, I posted an OP about the year 1968. That was the year Nixon took office. There were, at that time, less than 500 Indians in college in this country. By 1978, there were more than 5000 enrolled in college. By no coincidence, many studied law.

Today, there are 562 Indian Nations recognized by the USA. And there are 371 treaties that are still a matter of federal law, according to Article VI, Clause 2 of the US Constitution.

As DUers know, there are some forces that have attempted to say the Constitution does not apply today, because we are in a national crisis. In the past 8 years, VP Dick Cheney worked hard to undermine the rights of Indian people. Cheney, assisted by Ron Christie, were at times successful, as noted in Barton Gellmans book, "Angler." One reason they were able to violate the environmental laws (related to Indian rights) was because of the weak EPA director, Christine Todd Whitman. Cheney had held Whitman in contempt, since working together with her under Donald Rumsfeld in the Nixon administration.. He often went over her head, to Gale Norton, the interior secretary who had served as an aide in the Reagan administration to James Watt. (As interior secretary, Watt infamously stated that we might as well use up all of the earths natural resources, because Jesus was going to reappear in a generation or so.)

Just as there is conflict within an individual, between their good and bad sides, we are going to be moving into an accelerated conflict between those looking to develop a green, Earth-based philosophy, and those who want to suspend the Constitution and capitalize on all of the Earths resources.

{3} "The battle of the 21st century will be to save this planet."
--Bill Yellowtail, Crow.

Bill Yellowtail lives on the Crow Territory in Montana. Over the years, he has been employed as a college professor, a state legislator, and a regional administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency. He is, as VanDevelder notes, among the leaders of the pan-Indian effort to take cases where there are conflicts between Indians and non-Indian interests over Indian-owned properties and rights to the federal courts.

Hard as it is to believe, the Indians are not posing a threat to others. Even if Dick Cheney said they have yellow cake, or Ron Christie says they want to steal your house, it isnt true. I remember a year or so ago, I noted that the Onondaga Land Claims case was not looking to evict a single person, but rather, was attempting to get the government to force industries to clean a series of Super Fund Sites, some people on DU were surprised.

Know who your allies are, and who isnt your friend. There is a struggle going on. And together, we will win.

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