U. S. Anti-Indian Law: A Question of Legitimacy

Steven Newcomb

Let me be crystal clear: The anti-Indian, federal Indian law idea-system has no legitimacy when viewed from the perspective of our original existence as the free and independent nations and peoples of this part of the world. Our peoples long predate the dominating Christian European invasion of this continent and hemisphere, an invasion that produced the system of federal Indian law.

Food for thought: The word “civilization” is a synonym for “domination.” Some months ago, I turned to my massive Webster’s Third New International Dictionary (unabridged) and looked up the word “civilization.” I found: “The act of civilizing” “esp[ecially] the forcing of a particular cultural pattern on a population to whom it is foreign.”

Hundreds of years of evidence show that “a destructive pattern of domination” was forced upon us. Thus, we are able to further clarify Webster’s by slightly modifying the above definition: “the forcing of a cultural pattern of domination on free nations and peoples to whom that domination is foreign.” Over a period of many generations, most often without noticing, we, the original nations and peoples of this part of Mother Earth, have been conditioned into a habit of obedience to the domination. It has gotten to the point that many of us no longer resist the patterns imposed on us by the dominating society of the United States.

Whenever we treat the anti-Indian law system of the United States as if it were legitimate, meaning “valid” and “acceptable,” we are thereby demonstrating our unwillingness to resist its dominating patterns of thought and behavior. Back in 1973, Claus Mueller wrote: “Legitimacy confers authority on a system of domination” (Political Communication, Oxford University Press).

When originally free nations and peoples learn to treat a system of domination as if it is acceptable and rightful (i.e., legitimate in the larger sense), and when they no longer resist its effort to dominate them, this will make it seem as if they are voluntarily submitting themselves to that system’s dominance. They begin to silently behave as if they believe that the domination is legitimate and therefore deserves their obedience, even if that is not their belief.

Historically, since the invasion, new children born to the original nations and peoples were reared in the social, cultural, and linguistic context of the domination. The domination system, through its schools and its churches, molded the minds of those children during their most formative years. The children learned patterns of speech, thought, and behavior that reinforced the unquestioned belief that the domination is legitimate. Even worse, they were conditioned so as to be incapable of recognizing the domination. It was given many other names to mask it (“United States” “America” etc.).

To fully assimilate them into the domination, the children of the originally free nations and peoples were forcibly taken away from their families and loved ones, put into indoctrination centers and taught to identify themselves with the symbols and historical personalities of the domination. The goal was to kill the consciousness of their original free existence by making them identify themselves with the domination more than with their own people and their ancestors. They were never taught the insight that their ancestors had lived and thrived for many thousands of years free and independent of any foreign domination.

Eventually, some of those students entered into the colleges and universities of the domination. Some attended domination law schools, where they learned the history of patterns of domination called “law.” While in domination law schools, the children of original nations and peoples, who were now adults, began to learn the history of what important domination society personalities (called “judges”) thought, wrote, and decided about “Indians.” Such topics included their “political status,” their “land titles,” their “jurisdiction,” their “trust relationship” with the domination, and so forth, but only from the perspective of the dominating society.

They were taught a domination origin story: According to domination law, the first Christians to locate or “discover” non-Christians and their lands had the right to assume ultimate domination to be in themselves, and, as a natural consequence, to dominate the lands and lives of the originally free and independent nations of this continent and this hemisphere.

In short, the students were conditioned to think and write about “Indians” only from a domination-law viewpoint. They learned to emulate what domination-law personalities in the distant past, and more recent times, had thought, written, and decided about “Indians,” and about domination-law legal issues.

Eventually, many such students graduated and went on to become domination-law attorneys; they swore to uphold the constitution of the domination society. They began to refer to our originally free and independent nations and peoples as being “under” the constitution of the dominating society. They began to call the domination system “our” system. This further reinforced the erroneous view that the domination of our nations and peoples is legitimate. Bottom line: It is not, and never will be legitimate, and we need to awaken and begin saying so loud and clear.

Steven Newcomb (Shawnee,Lenape) is the co-founder and co-director of the Indigenous Law Institute, author of Pagans in the Promised Land: Decoding the Doctrine of Christian Discovery, and the Indigenous and Kumeyaay Research Coordinator for the Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation.

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gsevalikova's picture
We saw something about" Christian Jihad" that you may want to look into. It kind of relates to this article,because of what is happening now. When one reads the New Testament, you see all kinds of decrees on behavior-no stealing.no killing,no finacial cheating in commerce-and We ask why were these obvious commands so FLAGRANTLY DISOBEYED by explorers/settlers/residential school operators. They must not really believe what they told others to believe,because the consequences are so dire. What's up with THAT ?? How can they justify in court such acts? It's at best,the worst kind of hypocracy.But then,you were dealing with hardline Rightists,not real Christians-they were posers like Patriarch Kirill.
wanbli's picture
And here is the "Root" problem for BIA and IRA Indjuns SO-CALLED TRADITIONAL LEADERS with this kind of unmoral and inhumane existence in this "Unjust Order" and illegitimate nation, called The United States of America. BECAUSE OF THEY'RE COMPLETE ASSIMILATION AND BRAIN WASHING INTO THERE NEW WESTERN EXISTENCE "THEY ARE WILLINGLY/ KILLING THEIR OWN KIND!!!!" CRIMINAL TO THE GREAT SPIRIT TO THE CHRIST AND TO ALL AUTHENTIC SOVEREIGN RED NATIONHOOD'S The extermination of the mind and intellect of "Red" children. Many of OUR FAMILIES AND LEADERS ARE POLITICAL AND ECONOMICAL force to comply WITH U.S. INTEREST, "THAT ARE NOT OUR INTEREST" RED INTEREST and become complicit with the white mans idea's of himself, an identity of himself and a false idea of manhood, that historically been the most violent identity next to "Hitler" when it comes to enjoying destroying a free sovereign people and our Red sovereign nationhood's. Sense the beginning the white man wanted to be boss of everything and everyone, through force, death, hell and destruction of consecrated and divine sovereign First Nations of Turtle Island. Our first ancestors long ago where ordained, not by "man or empire" but by the Great Spirit to watch over and to guard, to fight spiritual and physical and keep this part of Mother earth, pure, holy, harmonal, tranquil, at peace with herself and all living things, including humans that are become beings of goodness to all living identities , not just "Whites alone"! Our Red indigenous nationhood's of North and South America and all our true Freedom Fighter of Democracy, seek only the freedom to love more with in the spiritual and physical relationships with our rightful red homelands, and all people's of earth. With a true "life", not the imaginary one of THE SO CALLED AMERICAN DREAM, WHICH IS NOTHING BUT AN AMERICAN NIGHTMARE. The real and true authentic tradition's of the Great Spirit, the Great Mystery and his Sons and daughters of "Red Life" and the authentic freedom have been ordained and consecrated and chosen by the Great Spirit, that we as a people will never surrender, to any so-called free American! Great memory , Steve. I'm proud of you! Maybe you can start helping this newspaper editor and owners to grow up and start living with, and for the People and the Great Spirit, not against them. If our red leaders and parents, who say they love there children, then in all honesty before the Great Spirit they must kill the image "identity" of the "oppressor" with in themselves, if truly love there red children and our truly grateful, thankful and appreciative to the Great Spirit for the "New Beginning to come! Free from the ignorant,,, etc... of empire and its gatekeepers of the U.S. BIA and IRA Tribal Governments and they're dance of lust, for greed and death of young red indigenous children- in this generation's of real modern day corporate and state genocide of authentic traditional sovereign governments. Indigenous sovereign nationhood's of earth! Mother, to all living things and humans that are born from "death"/ to genuine "Life" and have found a good spirit again within themselves and the Great Mystery that is cheering and pulling for us to free ourselves from the lies and domination of this Empire! Wanbli 2012 ONLY THE TRUTH AND JUSTICE WILL MAKE THE CREATOR OF LIFE HAPPY AGAIN AND MOTHER EARTH, HIS WIFE!