History

June 04, 2014
By:
Stanley Heller

Fort Moultrie – “On the grounds of this fort you’ll find the grave site of Chief Osceola, the Seminole Indian who died at Fort Moultrie and who is the inspiration for the Florida State university mascot. Free admission”.

May 14, 2014
By:
Steven Newcomb

When people these days discuss the United Nations (UN) Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, they have no idea that 70 years ago, just before the end of World War II, such a document was already being envisioned.

May 13, 2014
By:
Adrian Jawort

The most sacred document wherein the U.S.

May 04, 2014
By:
Steven Newcomb

On April 27, 2010, the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See (The Vatican) to the United Nations delivered its official statement on the Doctrine of Discovery at the 9th Session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.

May 03, 2014
By:
Peter d'Errico

Jonathan Schell died recently.

April 27, 2014
By:
Peter d'Errico

Civilization, in a standard dictionary, is "the stage of human social development and organization that is considered most advanced." The dictionary equates "advanced" with "the comfort and convenience of modern life." A thesaurus adds "progress, enlightenment, culture, refinement, sophistication

April 26, 2014
By:
Crystal Willcuts

In following the Washington football team mascot controversy, I read with interest, Gyasi Ross’ latest article, “Hush Money and Ransom: An Open Letter to Dan Snyder, the Idiot”.

April 22, 2014
By:
Steven Newcomb

The word “indigenous” has become ever present in the way that most people now tend to speak, think, and write about the nations and peoples that were living in this hemisphere when the monarchs of Western Christendom first made their invasive landfalls in the 15th and later centuries.

April 18, 2014
By:
Dwanna L. Robertson

In commemoration of the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Horseshoe Bend, or the Battle of Tohopeka (“the Horseshoe” in Creek), on March 27, 2014 a

April 15, 2014
By:
Steven Newcomb

On December 3, 2013, oral arguments took place in San Francisco as part of a lawsuit that had reached the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. A decision in the case is expected any time now.

April 01, 2014
By:
Steven Newcomb

The title of this column is taken from a letter sent by Christopher Columbus to Ferdinand and Isabella, explaining how he had found “many islands filled with people innumerable, and of them all I have taken possession for their highnesses, by proclamation made and with royal standard unfurled and

March 31, 2014
By:
Dwanna L. Robertson

When Christine Fallin, daughter of Oklahoma governor, Mary Fallin, released a photo of herself wearing a headdress on March 6, she sparked outrage among people who belong to the 37-plus Native Nations established in Oklahoma and across Indian country, in general.

March 29, 2014
By:
Alex Jacobs

Kennewick Man fades back into history. For a time this dead Indian had a team of lawyers to sort out the claims that scientists and tribes had on the K-Man.

March 23, 2014
By:
Steven Newcomb

Dina Gilio-Whitaker’s column, “Moving from Sovereignty to Autonomy,” is troubling on a number of levels. She advocates that we use the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples to achieve “autonomy” within the context of what she terms the “multinational state.” Unfortunately, her article lacks semantic depth and critical analysis, and serves to undermine the foundation of the movement by our Original Nations and Peoples of Great Turtle Island to liberate ourselves from established patterns of domination on the basis of true self-determination.

One problem is Gilio-Whitaker’s uncritical usage of the English language. That, along with failure to address the linguistic patterns of domination and subordination endemic to U.S. federal Indian law and policy, and international law, prevent readers from understanding the stakes and the importance of current international debates about the rights of peoples termed “indigenous.”

Current international working definitions reveal that “indigenous” in that context means “dominated peoples” and “peoples under dominance.” One definition, for example, says that “Indigenous populations are composed of existing descendants of the peoples who inhabited the territory or a country.” Then, “persons of a different culture or ethnic origin arrived from other parts of the world,” “overcame” the peoples living already there, “and, by conquest, settlement or other means, reduced them [those peoples] to a non-dominant or colonial situation.” In other words, the original peoples are considered to have been “reduced” to a predicament of domination. In her article, Gilio-Whitaker fails to make this background explicit.

Another international definition treats the words “indigenous” and “aboriginal” as synonymous. (See UN Centre for Human Rights, “The Rights of Indigenous Peoples,” 1990). The term “aboriginal” traces to “aborigine,” which, according to Webster’s unabridged dictionary, means “an indigenous inhabitant [a single person] of a country: one of the native people as distinguished from an invading or colonizing people.” Thus, peoples termed “Indigenous” or “aboriginal” are contrasted with present day dominating or domination-societies, typically called “states,” which are descended from the invading and colonizing peoples of Western Christendom.

Gilio-Whitaker’s column does not grasp a key point: We have to explicitly focus on the above framework of domination, and specifically use the word “domination,” in order to become conscious of the ‘state of domination’ that has been forced on those nations and peoples the UN now calls “Indigenous.” Importantly, Gilio-Whitaker does not mention the history of colonial domination in her article. Her omission is not unique. In the strange unspoken code in the English language and international political discourse, “’domination’ is the name that shall not be spoken.”

It is within the above noted context of domination that Gilio-Whitaker’s use of the term “autonomy” is accurately understood. In the classic Greek sense, autonomy means “the quality of state of being independent, free, and self-directing,” which is a powerful meaning for purposes of liberation. However, another meaning is, “the degree of self-determination or political control possessed by a minority group, territorial division, or political unit in its relation to the state or political community of which it forms a part.” (emphasis added)

The latter concept of “autonomy” is meaningful “in relation to” and “inside” the context of “the state.” It envisions “indigenous” units of “autonomy,” or “minority groups of autonomy,” considered to form “a part of the state,” which is a system of domination. In this sense, then, autonomy is considered to be a form of political assimilation whereby originally free nations and peoples which are now considered to be existing under, and subject to the authority of, some state dominance. They are deemed to have been made a part of, or politically incorporated into the body politic of “the state.” This version of “autonomy” is completely consistent with the racist and Christian-premised pronouncements of the US Supreme Court in the areas of “domestic dependency,” “and “plenary power. ”

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