Thank you Steven for your persistence in articulating these concepts - I believe discussions on these types of issues are exactly what our NDN forefathers and mothers did way before we got "civilized" - it worked for them but it doesn't produce concrete results for us today because we are also now "Americans". More and more I refrain from commenting on articles like this because the issues are so complicated as a result of the last 500 years, and because in our lifetimes there will never be the all-encompassing all-knowing answer(s). I also agree with just about all the comments to this article - all of which point a core issues facing Indian Country both as individuals and as members of our ancestor clans and nations - just how much NDN of whatever tribe(s) can we truly remain when we have been overwhelmed by American ways in just about every detail of our lives for at least the last 100 years? How long can we keep claiming political "sovereignty" when the Feds have final approval over just about everything we as members of politically subordinated entities think, do, and say? Today, as “Americans” we are forced to engage in the battles of the intellect – who is “right”, who is “wrong” - rather than in the ways of our ancestors – the ways of our spirits and souls who worked for the common good of our communities. The fact that some of us can’t see beyond being right or wrong reveals just how assimilated to American ways we’ve become. In my job I work daily with mostly urban Indian people, government administrators, and non-Indians who become involved in some American Indian related issue - I spend most of my time trying to explain circumstances to create some basic understandings.... ICWA is,.. NAGPRA is…, Relocation did..., Allotment did... FIL does... etc. etc. etc. This is all done in the English language because that’s what everyone can understand. The only existing resources and tools are in the English language created primarily by non-Indians whose objectives were to “fit” Indians into molds created by non-Indians to categorize us in ways that made sense to them, not us. Non-Indians have never and probably will never see us and our cultures as CORE components in how the U.S. defines and makes sense of. Generations of non-Indians have stood on this land, know at least the fundamentals of U.S. history, and still regard as us as props, bit players, “cultural curiosities”, “interesting”, but certainly not essential to what they deem American stands for. At this point in history, the only place we can be truly “sovereign” is in our own minds and spirits – but they’re working constantly to change that – the fact that we are using the internet to communicate is a prime example. Years ago I used to think I’ll just go back on the rez and hide out in some remote area and have nothing to do with our tribal government, let alone the local, state, and federal governments like my great grandpa did even up into the 1960’s, but eventually he got “rounded up” and died in our IHS hospital – so ultimately he didn’t escape from the system. He gave me my Indian name when I was around 4 or 5 years old, but unfortunately I never got to talk with him. His grave is in our family burial groups on our family allotment, but even that was chosen for us by some BIA official. So what U.S. history as it has worked out leave us in Indian Country? It’s up to each of us individually to decide for ourselves, NCAI is a way, NARF another, and there are other ways….each tribal government, each individual has to determine their own ways, or just wait for whatever the feds or other non-Indian “authorities” decide for us next. Until the U.S. get nuked or they nuke themselves, or all decide to go back to wherever they came from (yeah, right), we’re stuck with them overpowering us at every turn. If the Chinese or the Muslims take over, will things be any different for us? At this point in history, the only things in Indian Country that possibly are not totally compromised are our own spirits and minds – and that’s the best place to start. As I’ve gotten older, and I’ve taken the time to ask, my spirit tells me the story is not over, in spite of all that’s happened and as pointless as it sometimes seems. The last 500 or so years have been pretty destructive to us, but I think we all know that our ancestors persisted long, long before all that, and I believe will persist on long after this thing called the U.S. crumbles. “It’s not over” - that’s what comforts my soul, and that’s what I try to teach and share with those who care to sincerely ask.
Tuesday, February 26, 2013 - 22:44