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Old 03-21-2013, 09:02 AM   #1
2lineCarrandMorgan
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From Native News Network

Guest Commentary

On Card Carrying Indians and Those Indians Who Don't

Warren Petoskey in Native Condition. Discussion






This is the historical trauma no one wants to talk about. We, as Native people, take it as a badge of honor that we have been issued cards qualifying us as citizens of our respective tribes. My number is 0322. That number registers me with my tribe and with the Bureau of Indian Affairs in Washington DC. Every tribal member in the United States and Canada has an identification number in addition to our driver's license number and our social security number among other numbers.

Sovereignty was and is not the gift of men,
but the gift of the Creator

We are better known by our numbers than we are by our names.

I am a card carrying member of the Little Traverse Bay Band of Odawa Indians, but the truth is that I was Indian before I was ever issued a card. There was a racist gang of boys in the little town I grew up in who made sure that I was aware of my ethnic Indian origins.

My wife is Choctaw and Cherokee. Her tribal affiliation cannot be proven because the archival records list her ancestors as white, I was going to say that is a questionable coincidence, but it isn't if one is somewhat aware of the diabolical, inhumane plan to exterminate us, if by no other way than to render us racially unidentifiable. Because we cannot provide documentation as to how much Native blood our children have, they are not eligible to be members of my tribe. I can tell you from firsthand accounts it hurts them to think their own tribe will not recognize them.

Now, let me take a little of what I just said back. They are eligible for medical services through funding by the United States government to the Indian Health Service which is a division of the Bureau of Indian Affairs and under the BIA's supervision. That service can only be accessed by producing the number 0322 and a copy of my tribal enrollment card which has a scanning stripe on it just like my credit card does.

My tribe has refused to identify or recognize the conditions which have been intentionally developed to ensure our "eligibility" as tribal people to our treaty rights are denied. My tribe refuses to recognize my children and grandchildren even as citizens of the Waganakising Odawa Nation. This is how legal prejudicial conditions are advanced and how our tribes ingrain these practices into their daily operations as a tribe.

I have often thought of withdrawing my membership in my tribal club association if it were not for daughters who struggle with diabetes and need the medical services to control the disease. Neither can afford the test strips, the medicines, or the continuing need for medical care.

The tribe who so generously allows me to have one of their cards does little to address the conditions that have developed that are intended to end our legal existence and the federal government's obligations by treaty to us. If they are allowed to determine when we will suddenly disappear because of the lack of their standards for blood quantum than we, as tribal members, have done little to establish and protect our origin of sovereignty. Sovereignty was and is not the gift of men, but the gift of the Creator. Somehow we have allowed me to dictate who we are or who we aren't. This is prejudice at its highest effort.

I think of the many tribes the federal government terminated. In essence the federal government was and is saying these tribes no longer exist or have any legal status in the United States or Canada. That is like telling the Creator that they are going to take the lead in saying who is and who isn't! So they have usurped the authority of the Creator and took matters into their own hands.

After five hundred years of threat to our existence in which nearly 100 million of our people were exterminated and we were determined to be less than human, this little crumb from our master's table giving us a card to carry validating us as citizens of our own tribes is an indication of their lack of honor and respect. But we, as a people, have bought into it all and practice that level of oppression on our own people and stick our heads in the sand when other members of our Red Race is determined not to exist.

Can you grasp what I am trying to say here? Our children have been discriminated against, but let me add this: my wife has been discriminated against as well. We, as citizens of the Waganakising Odawa Nation, use to practice a tradition that when someone outside of our tribe married a tribal citizen, they became tribal citizens and were treated as such. My wife, who has cooked my meals, treated my injuries, nursed me when I was sick, kept our home and washed my dirty clothes is also the mother of my children, but yet has no status with my tribe.

We, as a people who have experienced 500 years of invalidation and rejection, are now recognized and given a little validation because we are card carrying members of a tribe.

In closing, I hope I have given the reader of this an idea of how historical trauma has advanced itself in our midst and how our own people promote the assimilation efforts by a non-native, prejudiced, power.

There is only One who qualifies and validates me. He did that at my birth and the impressions He has made in my heart. He did that through who my ancestors were and no foreign agent is going to have any ingress into that consciousness.

For every one of blood who has come up to me and apologized saying you do not think you have enough blood to be called an Indian, I say to you, you are who you were born to be. You can only know this through a relationship with the Creator and voiding all of the foreign invasion into your psyche. Before your own Master you stand or fall and not before any man or court. They might can take our lives if the Creator allows it, but they cannot kill our spirits or our dream, so dream big and allow yourself to be who you are. A card issued by some tribal government under the authorization and approval of the BIA does not quantify or validate who you are.

If the Creator be for us, who can be against us!

Piitassigeh, Odawa/Lakotah

Warren Petoskey is a tribal citizen of the Little Bay Bands of Odawa Indians, based in Harbor Springs, Michigan. He authored "Dancing My Dream," an autobiographic book that depicts overcoming challenges he faced in modern society. He and his wife, Barb, reside in Gaylord, Michigan.

posted March 20, 2013 8:40 am edt

I have thought of these things before,I understand where the different tribal councils have to disallow ppl from other races from living on tribel lands , most treaties or bylaws if you will, set up with the US government for land that was due anyways. Say," the land and housing is for the members of ones tribe,Thay can only have members of that tribe settle on rez land and housing and that even goes as far to say no white ppl can never settle on rez land" ,,

so in keeping to the rules, it seems harsh to one who has children with someone out side of the tribe, to lose the right to live with in the community on the rez.in some cases even lose membership.Now we have to be concerned for health of the whole tribe whose home and status is there by following the rules.
Fouthermore problem comes in when the tribe is small and marrying with in tribe is not easy because you now have 140 cousins in the year of marrying,Befor I would get upset when I thought about these things ,now I understand better and the thoughts still is needed for the familys who did follow the rules and thier hope for thier children
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