A Letter to Obama For Signing the Tribal General Welfare Exclusion Act

Michael Hunter

President Obama, with all respect, I write to you on behalf of our Native Nations in the Spirit of Tecumseh, 200 years after his journey to the Milky Way—

Brother, we recall the Crow Nation, you said, “You will be on my mind every day I’m in the White House … my own brothers and my own sisters,” and we hear you, Black Eagle, we see you;

Brother, in his first full year as President, George Washington pledged “permanent peace and friendship” in the Creek Nation Treaty at the Executive Mansion, setting the stage for future treaties;

Brother, in his seventh year, Washington called on the “beloved” Cherokee Nation to join in commerce with their American neighbors;

Brother, in the Louisiana Purchase Treaty, Thomas Jefferson pledged the United States’ “honor” for existing treaties and to make new treaties “with the Indian nations by mutual consent;”

Brother, you pledged to honor Native “sovereignty” and “treaty obligations” as President and to promote “prosperous, resilient, sustainable tribal communities,”

Brother, you remembered Sitting Bull, saying, “Let us put our minds together and see what lives we can make for our children” and you visited his Lakota and Dakota children;

Brother, we seek respect for our sovereignty, a better life for our children, peace and friendship;

Brother, as we work for a brighter future, the IRS harassed us, infringing our sovereignty as we work for our people through our own self-government and self-sufficiency;

Brother, our Congress helped our Indian tribes, saying the IRS must defer to tribal government decisions about our peoples’ general welfare;

Brother, with respect and remembrance, you signed the law that respects our Indian nations, we thank you and at some time, you should celebrate this important event with us, your Native brothers and sisters;

Brother, at our White House Native Nations meeting, we call on you for a new policy—a policy that heals the sacred circle by returning to original principles—an Obama Native Nations Policy based upon Nation-to-Nation relations and mutual consent;

As Tecumseh said, “Brother, We must be united; we must smoke the same pipe; we must fight each other' battles; and more than all, we must love the Great Spirit; He is for us….”

As we smoke the sacred pipe together, we are for the Great Spirit and for each other…. 

Thank you, Brother, for listening to us, your Native brothers and sisters, and for being a strong leader and a good man.

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Is this column a joke? You have some audacity invoking the name of one of our greatest indigenous resistance leaders, Tecumseh, in prostrating yourself before the invader government, while trying to rewrite history. Until his dying breathe, Tecumseh fought against the United States, and its imperialist expansion. He hated the United States, and tried to unite Native nations to defeat the United States in its invasion of our homelands. Your misuse of his quote to suggest that he encouraged indigenous peoples to unite WITH the US instead of AGAINST it, is particularly offensive. The speech that you quote was made in 1811 to inspire the Wazhazhe (Osage) to ally with other indigenous nations in their fight against the United States. It was not, as you suggest, to join with the US, or to acquiesce to the domination of the US, under Obama or anyone else. The accurate final line in that speech is: "We must love the Mover of Life, he is for us, he will destroy our enemies [the United States], and make our red children happy." Your column disrespects the spirit of Tecumseh, and the spirit of his resistance against the United States invasion. This Washington, whose name you elevate, is that the same man who the Seneca called "Town Destroyer," because of his destruction of 28 of their 30 towns, and his ruthless slaughter of Haudenosaunee women and children? Louisiana Purchase? You ignore the fact that the "Louisiana Grand Theft" was the greatest usurpation of indigenous nations' territories in U.S. history, while you honor the words of its racist architect, Jefferson. Every president you cite (and all the others who you didn't, i.e., Lincoln, Jackson, Harrison, Grant, Roosevelt, et. al.), including Obama, were war criminals, who deserve no respect from indigenous peoples. "Our Congress?" "Brother Obama?" Please, speak for yourself, and only for yourself. Leonard Peltier remains unjustly locked up in a federal penitentiary. Instead of gushing over Obama, why don't you insist that your "brother" do something about that injustice?