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Old 09-26-2006, 07:58 PM   #1
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The future of tribal sovereignty

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FROM: _http://www.indiancountry.com/content.cfm?id=1096413721_
(http://www.indiancountry.com/content.cfm?id=1096413721)

The future of tribal sovereignty

(javascript:PrintWindow();) Posted: September 25, 2006 by: _David Melmer_
(http://www.indiancountry.com/author.cfm?id=29) / Indian Country Today

BISMARCK, N.D. - Sovereignty may have been an inherent right for the many
nations in the country for hundreds of years, but it now requires constant
protection.

Tribal sovereignty is inherent; according to traditional elders, it was
given to the nations by the Creator.

It is not uncommon at meetings to hear tribal leaders, attorneys and other
officials speak of attempts by states, the federal government and internal
forces to obliterate sovereignty.

''We have to have a sustained national sovereignty effort. We must rekindle
the [National Congress of American Indians'] effort to reaffirm
sovereignty,'' said Tex Hall, chairman of the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation and
former president of the NCAI.

Recently in Congress, legislation that would have required tribes to ask
permission from counties on gaming issues was determined to be an attack on
sovereignty, tribal leaders agreed. That proposed legislation did not pass
committee muster.

Melanie Benjamin, chairman of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, said the
erosion seen on the Mississippi River is equivalent to the attempts to erode tribal
sovereignty.

''The courts are cutting away at tribal sovereignty, they chip away at it;
it is an important topic,'' she said.

Benjamin said the trend was to pit the states and federal government against
the tribes in courts.

''Sovereignty is rooted in federal law; some see it as a state flow-through
from the federal government.

''Ever since Indian self-determination and the Reagan administration,
states' rights have taken priority. Now, with the Bush administration, there is
more power going to the states,'' she said. ''In the future, we may find
ourselves in more courts.''

As the treaties become abrogated, sovereignty is weakened by the U.S.
courts, said Ken Davis, chairman of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa.

He said the right to self governance lies directly with land, and that to
expand sovereignty the land base has to be expanded. ''To purchase land only
from tribal members doesn't expand sovereignty.'' Davis recommended buying as
much land as possible whether out of or within the reservation's boundaries.

''We have to come to grasp with it and accommodate growth on the
reservations,'' Davis said.

''We are not as isolated and uneducated as we once were. We have lawyers; we
have political rights and a special political status. No longer do we allow
encroachment within our own boundaries,'' Davis said.

Ron His Horse is Thunder, chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, agreed
with Davis and said the tribes must buy all the land within the boundaries
and land outside the boundaries.

When His Horse is Thunder was growing up, he heard that the Lakota got
rights from the government.

''The treaties are the recognition of tribal rights, not gifts.''

The Mille Lacs Band of Chippewa knows full well what treaty rights and
sovereignty is about. In the late 1970s, fishing rights among many Ojibwe nations
were challenged. When the tribes tried to exercise their treaty rights to
fishing, they were confronted not only by local anti-Indian groups but by the
courts.

Mille Lacs won its case in 1979 but the fallout, Benjamin said, is still
felt today.

''Victory came at a price. Three anti-Indian groups have now been elected to
the county board and they have tried to kick us off. We won't move.

''The county continues to come after us and the government supports their
actions,'' Benjamin said.

''We may never win over those who run the county now, but in 100 years they
will be dead and Mille Lacs will continue,'' she said.

Central to sovereignty may lay the culture and the language, but without the
language the culture suffers. His Horse is Thunder said he was told by his
elders that government intervention in blood requirements will eventually lead
to extinction of the tribes as well if only the blood of the parent is
recognized.

''Every sovereignty is recognized by its language, government, membership
and established boundaries.

''Who ceases to have any one of these will find termination,'' His Horse is
Thunder said.

''Without the language you can't know 100 percent of the culture - in the
language is the culture,'' he said.

''Are we doing enough to stop the erosion of the language?''

One final point made by His Horse is Thunder was that the members or
citizens must have faith in the tribal government.

''There is an internal attack - Indian against Indian. If we don't protect
sovereignty, we will see termination,'' His Horse is Thunder said.
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Old 10-13-2006, 12:49 AM   #2
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what do you think about this? I am curious knowing you are from the Tuscarora nation? and the fight they are facing now to save the language.
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