Second time around
I would first like to say that the first Tribal Nations Conference President Obama held turned out to be an embarrassing fiasco on our part. I had watched this conference in the hopes that we would have an opportunity to ask real questions about our issues and make some progress about our situation. Instead what we did was take this opportunity to seek 15 seconds of fame.
When the president had started his Q&A session with our representatives, what most of them did was start with their family histories going way back when, and introducing themselves with whatever fancy titles they have. It even got to the point where the president had reiterated that this was a Q&A session and that there wasn’t much time. Still, our representatives felt compelled to go on about themselves and continuously praise Obama.
President Obama, regardless of his race or ideology, is still sitting in the legacy of a government that had broken every treaty they had written with the Native American people. Our situation can be compared closely to that of the Scottish people being oppressed by the English as dramatized in the movie “Braveheart.” When William Wallace stood before English officials he was not bowing to them and groveling for favor. He stood before them proud and in the belief that it is they who should be graced by his presence and not the opposite.
I think we need to conduct ourselves in a manner that better fits our situation. Treat the man with respect as you would anyone else but please don’t grovel and bring him sacred gifts that he hasn’t earned. When it comes time to ask questions I can think of a few other than my family history.
What are you going to do different from your predecessors in regards to following through with the treaties the United States has signed, of which it claims is the supreme law of the land. Are you going to investigate claims by tribal members of abuse and poor conditions from the IHS? Is it legal for a federal agency to confiscate and auction off a sovereign nation’s land over a tax dispute? What steps will you take to guarantee Native American religious freedom? Do you agree with the Supreme Court’s decision to offer monetary compensation for the taking of the Black Hills, a sacred area on par with Israel’s holy land? Is it right to give billions a year to Israel and almost nothing to Native American tribes? You apologized for disease experimentation done to the people of Guatemala but are you aware that the same is being done to the Native people here in America? Are you aware of the forced sterilization of Native women?
To any representative attending this time around please think of the people and use this opportunity to make progress on our behalf.
– Paul Stover