The U.S. policy of termination, in its various and continuing forms, is at the core of all the issues at the local levels. Local tribal terminations would have no basis if the U.S. government hadn't made itself "trustee" over all legal aspects of American Indian life and imposed Indian Reorganization Act of 1934 (IRA) tribal governments. Even those tribes that did not adopt strict IRA tribal governments are still required by U.S. law to conform to U.S. law FIRST, then tribes attempt to form the nature and extent of their "sovereignty". In other words, under U.S. law, even federally recognized tribes will never have complete freedom to be totally "sovereign" - tribes are sovereign only to the extent that U.S. law allows it. More consistently the U.S. Supreme makes decisions regarding Indian Country issues that benefit non-Indians and undermine Indian Country. The U.S. Congress has yet to fully acknowledge treaty commitments, or even fully fund or implement modern laws of its own making. In short, Indian Country's "sovereignty" is eroding at greater and great levels. Indian Country simply does not have the economic or political power to truly influence the U.S. government compared to U.S. corporate interests. The U.S. government's FIRST priorities are to U.S. corporations - oil, mining, medical, manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, the military, etc. to confer with and to create laws and make court decisions that protect those corporate interests. In U.S. politics, the reality is if you have the $ and the more $$$$ you have, you go to the front of the line. If you don't have the $, good luck. Even with gaming, Indian Country cannot compete economically against the U.S. corporate world. For example, in 2010 nation-wide Indian gaming grossed about $25 Billion dollars, but after taxes, after paying all the bills, the profit was about 1/4 of that or about $6 Billion. Compare that to Exxon Oil for example which PROFITED (after all the taxes and bills were paid) $38 Billion in one quarter, multiply that by 4 and you have an annual PROFIT of $150 Billion to pay lobbyists, lawyers, accountants, PR firms, tv advertising, etc. And this is only one company - imagine the combined profits of the entire U.S. oil industry. Then add these to all the other U.S. corporate interests and you have Trillions of PROFIT $ to lobby for their economic interests. How can Indian Country compete? We can't, so we have to find another way. When the Mashantucket Pequot came up with the plan to build Foxwoods, now the largest casino in the world, they went to the U.S. government and the U.S. banks for financial assistance but were turned away. No one on American soil was willing to help so they went to Asia and found the $ to get them started. The point is that Indian Country has to stop looking only to the U.S. government and U.S. corporations for help. Indian Country leadership has to stop behaving like "hang around the fort Indians" waiting, hoping, longing for the white folks to throw them some good scraps. If they keep on doing that, scraps is all we will continue to get. Insanity is described as doing the same thing over and over again expecting to get a different result. Indian Country leadership has behaved like a battered wife who thinks that maybe if I'm good, maybe I won't get beaten again, maybe I'll finally be treated right - that tactic NEVER works, the situation only changes one or two ways - the battered finally wife dies or stops thinking that old way and adopts another tactic. Until Indian country changes its tactics and gains the economic power or comes up with another way, we can expect no real difference in how the U.S. government treats us, and the issues we face will continue, until frankly the only logical result based on our history under U.S. governance will be the end of Indian Country. Tribal government disenrollments only contribute to bringing about the end, but that's their decision. In any culture, extinction is what happens to people who are willing to settle for scraps and who don't think outside and "beyond the box" (in this case the box being U.S. law and corporate interests) and work on ways to change their situation.
Saturday, January 14, 2012 - 23:41