Some Who's Who Among Anti-Native Forces -- Who Natives Are Organizing To Fight [ comment from me]

Hunter Gray hunterbadbear at earthlink.net
Fri Feb 22 20:15:28 MST 2002


Note by Hunterbear:

I've written [and posted] extensively on Native American sovereignty and
related matters. While there are certainly many non-Indians, older and
younger, who are sensibly empathetic to American Indian, Eskimo, and Aleut
concerns and relatively aware of at least the basics in the Native situation
[and some are certainly very aware of all of this], I'm always surprised,
frankly, to encounter those who, ostensibly well-rounded and sophisticated,
are not cognizant -- and are sometimes hostile.  [To those not-friendly
especially, I do recommend Vine Deloria's  "Custer Died for Your Sins " --
thirty years old or so but still a very timely classic with persuasive force
and some humour.]

Well, anyway.  The article I'm posting deals with some open and veiled  Real
Enemies of our Indian people, our tribal nations, our cultures, our
sovereignty, our land and our resources.

Here are a few sociological and legal basics:

A Native tribal nation is precisely that -- a nation.  Within what is called
the United States and Canada, a tribe is NOT analogous to a city or a state
or a province.

Again, it's a nation. It has, among other things, its super-ancient
distinctive history in this Hemisphere and its own very viable and unique
culture.

And there are as many tribal cultures as there are tribal nations.

A Native person's primary identification beyond his/her own family
structures is with that of tribal nation and tribal culture  -- and then to
the overall Native American world.

A Native tribal nation, like all nations, has inherent sovereignty.  Full
sovereignty is the full and ultimate control by the tribal nation of its
land, its people, and its affairs.  Much sovereignty has been lost --
however temporarily -- by the tribal nations in both the United States and
Canada.  But some functional sovereignty does remain.  In the United States,
the current situation is referred to as "residual" or "limited
sovereignty" -- a tribal nation has control over some dimensions but not
over others.

A great big part of the Native fight is always to preserve and to regain
sovereignty.

Sovereignty, obviously, is power -- and protection and security -- and it's
absolutely critical to individual and societal well-being.

A related point:  treaties between the Native American tribal nations and
the United States are part of the "Supreme Law of the Land."  They were made
in the context of Article 6, Section 2, of the U.S. Constitution.  As such,
Native treaties occupy a status considerably higher -- and in an entirely
different dimensional context -- than that of a Congressional statute or
Presidential executive order.

In addition to fighting to preserve and regain sovereignty, Native nations
and people fight to achieve bona fide self-determination.  But
self-determination must always be within the context of full maintenance of
treaty rights and related agreements -- and full treaty rights and related
agreements must be within the context of self-determination.

In our Native American struggle, we can certainly always use honorable and
ethical allies.

With respect to the radical situation, it boils down, quoting from my little
piece of more than two weeks ago, "Owls and Indians -- and some radicals who
are neither," to basically this:

"Sometimes then [after doing some open-minded reading], the previously
unaware non-Indian radical can understand why family and clan and tribe and
tribal culture and a serving-the-community ethos are so critical to us.  And
why we fight for all treaty rights and for
full sovereignty and for bona fide self-determination.  And why we are so
committed to preservation of our communally owned earth and to the very
careful and respectful usage of its resources.  And why we always protect
our sacred places."

Here, now, are many of our enemies -- and attendant issue challenges:

In Solidarity - Hunter [Hunterbear]
--------------------------------------------------------------------------

Anti-Indian sovereignty movement and its politicians
Posted: February 22, 2002 - 10:29AM EST
http://indiancountry.com/?1014391922

Indian nations are forming a serious united front against the growing forces
focused on destroying the bases of Indian sovereignty under United States
law.

At its 58th Annual Session the National Congress of American Indians, with
its
membership of more than 250 tribal governments from every region of Indian
country, adopted a resolution condemning the actions of anti-Indian
organizations and hate groups. Likewise, at its January 2002 Impact Week in
Washington, D.C., the 24 Indian nation members of the United South and
Eastern
Tribes passed a resolution identifying and condemning groups intent on
eliminating American Indian governments, societies and cultures. Both of
these
respected American Indian advocacy organizations appropriately called
attention
to anti-Indian groups including but not limited to Citizens for Equal Rights
Alliance, United Property Owners, and Upstate Citizens for Equality.

The backlash movement against the honorable foundation of tribal government
sovereignty by regional, and increasingly, nationally networked anti-Indian
organizations represents a serious political challenge that Indian nations
must
confront. It is of utmost importance that the nations and all Indian
leadership
everywhere understand that no matter how much local clout you might have,
all
Indian nations are, of necessity, in it together on such critical
termination
movements that would deny American Indian freedoms and liberties in their
aboriginal lands.

The current anti-Indian movement has several bases in the non-Indian
population, and even enjoys allies among a very few Indians who have turned
on
their own governments, for whatever reasons.

In New York State, at least one congressional primary race is now defined by
the anti-Indian sovereignty platform and the activist opposition to Indian
nations and jurisdictions of a declared candidate. The case is worth noting.
The candidate is Rodger Potocki, a Republican businessman from New Hartford,
who is an active member in an anti-Indian organization identified by NCAI
and
USET, namely the Upstate Citizens for Equality. Potocki stated the "repeal
of
Indian sovereignty" as a central campaign theme. He is running for the
Republican nomination to Congress from an upstate New York District. And
even
though he is out of step with New York's Republican leader, Governor George
Pataki, who has formally recognized Indian sovereignty, Potocki's candidacy
represents the dark, old and tired legacy of U.S. and Indian relations.

The bugaboo is one that goes back to the 1920s, with attacks on the
structure
of tribes as separatist, discriminatory, even racist. Potocki was quoted in
the
(Syracuse) Post Standard as saying: "We should not allow nations of
different
people and different colors and different religions. It's the Balkanization
of
America." In Potocki's case the anti-Indian anger is directed at the success
of
the Oneida and Cayuga Nations of New York, which have won their land claims
and
are now in a position to buy back their former territories and establish
viable
economic futures.

As in the Oneida example, the aggressive reacquisition of Indian lands,
putting
them into trust with their tax status under Indian nation jurisdiction, has
some would-be "patriots" fuming. Never mind that churches, non-profit
institutions and other governmental jurisdictions remove far more land from
county and town taxation than its local Indian nation, and give back much
less
than Oneida Nation enterprises that employ over 3,000 tax-paying local
people.
(The Oneida Nation is owner of this newspaper's parent corporation.) Potocki
is
hell-bent on the proposition that by destroying Indian nations'
jurisdictions
and legal standing, some great American problem will be solved.

Potocki, UCE and the national network that is organizing and politically
guiding the anti-Indian movement to state houses and the U.S. Congress must
be
watched carefully. If left unanswered, one of these days, as a movement, it
could potentially emerge onto the American media scene via some manufactured
event. If a cluster of five or eight anti-Indian tribal jurisdiction
politicians form in any house of government, particularly Congress, it gains
strength. It gains the potential to create serious problems.

Tribal leaders should make no mistake about it. The stated aim of this
national
movement is to destroy the powers and authorities of Indian tribal
government
within U.S. law. Help identify it in your own backyard. Combat it in any
appropriate way. In Central New York, Potocki proudly announced his run for
Congress on Abraham Lincoln's birthday. Lincoln fought to preserve the
union,
he said. Indian nation sovereignties are supposedly against Lincoln's
principle
of a united country, Potocki argues. Indian nations need to be ready to
repel
these absurd arguments, fight back the faulty rationales used by anti-Indian
forces that patriotism and Americanism are on their side, when in fact they
are
the ones denying well-established American historical, political and
cultural
legacies, and dishonoring the country's diplomatic government to government
heritage. Potocki needs to be reminded, for instance, that Seneca, Cayuga,
Oneida and other Iroquois ancestors fought in all of America's wars,
striving
to secure freedom, liberty and sovereignty for nations the world over.
Indian
nations deserve no less at home.

The long-standing legal reality of Indian nations' existence outside and
within
the American federalist and state frameworks, the long-standing treaty and
case
law that define the history of United States and Indian relations are
reduced
to the "evil" of "Balkanization" in the anti-Indian arguments. As if tribal
nations did not own their own reality on this American earth, one that
extends
many hundreds of years further, as if relations between tribal, municipal,
state and federal jurisdictions were not possible and, in fact, part of the
American legal fabric.

Nationally, both the National Congress of American Indians and the United
South
and Eastern Tribes, have challenged Potocki's organization, UCE, as
anti-Indian
and as a hate group. UCE voices strongly deny the hate label and point to
their
inclusion of a few distressed and confused Indian individuals among their
supporters. But whether expressed racially or legalistically or politically,
the direct and completely hostile attack by groups such as UCE on the
economic
and political base of Indian tribes is truly impossible to ignore. Gone is
the
obvious snarl of yesteryear; and no one wants to be too quick with
accusations
of racism, but is perhaps now the noose simply hiding behind a smile of
civility and the claim of "nothing personal?" Ever since David Duke replaced
his white robes for the legitimate veneer of suit and tie, organizations
taking
aim at peoples of color have become increasingly sophisticated. They are now
much more cleverly attuned to image and language.

It may not be racist in the sense of a KKK mob burning your house and
lynching
your men, but the clear outright call for the eradication of all the rights
your ancestors retained for you, of everything that gives you identity and
legal recognition, everything that gives your children and future
generations
an opportunity at economic justice in America, this is clearly a hostile
intention, directed specifically at the destruction of Indian governments
and,
therefore, at the very existence of our peoples.

The conventional weakness on the tribal side is the Indian faces showing up
across the aisle. For a number of reasons, some even with rationalization,
individual Indians from a few tribes are angry enough, disgusted enough,
self-hating enough to enlist in and actually help lead the charge to destroy
the whole reality of tribal self-government. For such Indians, it is clearly
a
case of tossing out their seventh generation along with the dirty water.
From
where we sit, such behavior by tribal members, who seek to dismember Indian
nations because of specific cases of perceived injustice, apply convoluted
and
destructive tactics to what requires well thought out and constructive
strategies.

Part and parcel of a national initiative by anti-Indian groups, this
approach
of enlisting Indians shows up occasionally throughout the nation. Roland
Morris, for instance, is a resident of the Flathead Indian Reservation but a
member of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe. He was elected last June to the
board
of a national network called the Citizens Equal Rights Alliance (CERA). In
August he became chairman of All Citizens Equal (ACE) a Montana-based group.
Morris supports the idea of destroying Indian tribal jurisdiction. He is
very
popular with CERA.

A Montana Human Rights Network watch on hate groups writes incisively on
this
subject:

"Anti-Indian activists strongly deny that they or their groups are racist in
any way. They portray themselves as citizens who are concerned about legal
and
political issues, which surround tribal sovereignty. Human rights advocates
point out that the organized attempt to abrogate the legally established
right
of tribes to govern the affairs of their members and their resources is
inherently racist.

"ACE materials often include non-discrimination statements and disclaimers.
ACE's bylaws proclaim that it does not tolerate racism in any form.
Newsletters
and other publications are full of the terminology of civil rights. On its
web
page ACE says it 'is dedicated to the civil rights and equal protection'
under
the Constitution. It goes on to proclaim, 'Persons of Native heritage should
not be subject to law based on racial heritage.' Ads in the local paper
announce that ACE is now a 'multiracial group.'

"But despite all of these efforts, ACE remains widely regarded as a
fundamentally anti-Indian organization. As an example, the Great Falls
Tribune
coverage of Morris' election as the chairman of ACE was given a headline
which
read, 'ACE hopes to overcome racist, anti-Indian image on Flathead.'"

The same is true of the UCE (Upstate Citizens for Equality) in Central New
York
and of many other such organizations from the East Coast to Wisconsin and
Minnesota, the Northern Great Plains, Oregon and Washington, and California,
and other states. There is a denial of racism, but clearly there is a
bigoted
approach to Indian rights, tunnel-vision opinions that advocate for the
complete abrogation of all treaty and other legal rights of American
Indians,
the original self-governing peoples of this land.

A 1992 study by the World Center for Indigenous Studies found "recurrent and
troubling connections" by the anti-Indian groups in the western states to
white
supremacist organizations. In Montana both ACE and its precursor, Montanans
Opposed to Discrimination, based right on the Flathead Indian Reservation,
have
opposed tribal government at "virtually every turn." The anti-Indian
movement
is also very close to the Wise Use movement. This is a network of
anti-environmental groups that focus on natural resource development and
property rights issues. They directly oppose Indian tribes' control of
natural
resources, including water, timber and minerals. The legal concept of tribal
sovereignty is just not acceptable to these groups, who essentially seek to
terminate tribal America.

Indians joining in with what are clearly enemy forces in order to combat
their
own Indian enemies are destructive, always, of all Indian futures. There is
no
justice down that road, only further division. Indian problems are many and
often intractable, but for the sake of the generations they need to be
worked
on "on the inside." It is not easy, but it is possible.

The specifically directed attacks on Indian futures call for the vigilance
of
the eagle. These attacks carry the worst of intentions and all tribal
officials, all tribal members, including tribal high school students, should
be
aware of the fundamental arguments that defend against the anti-Indian
attacks.

NCAI and USET are doing well to identify groups in the anti-Indian networks.
In
both of these cases it took the diligent work of both Eastern and Western
tribal delegations to bring the issue to national attention. We congratulate
all those who are working to protect the rightful and just standing of
Indian
governments and peoples within America.

©2001 Indian Country Today

Hunter Gray  [ Hunterbear ]
www.hunterbear.org  ( social justice )


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