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Old 09-20-2005, 05:03 AM   #1
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Guest opinion: Nationhood a positive change for Northern Cheyenne Tribe

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Guest opinion: Nationhood a positive change for Northern Cheyenne Tribe

By LEO KILLSBACK
Sept. 17, 2005

http://billingsgazette.com/index.php?id=1&
display=rednews/2005/09/17/build/opinion/40-guest-op.inc


Like most Indian nations in Montana, the Northern Cheyenne Tribe has suffer
ed
since the 1880s, when most reservations were established. Reservation life
is
still difficult for Indian people. Reservations are plagued with poverty,
drug and alcohol abuse, child neglect and gang violence.

On the Northern Cheyenne Reservation, traditional people attribute these
problems to influence from non-Indian people. The media, non-Indian
religions and
a history of devastating U.S. policies aimed at destroying Indian cultures
have all contributed to the drastic change in the way Indian people think
and
live. Indian people perceive the world, raise their children, practice their
religion and live like no other generation. Most Indian people do not have
any
knowledge of such change because they do not know how their ancestors lived.

By acknowledging and resisting this "mental colonization," Indians are
empowered to affirm their own traditional beliefs, practice their cultures
and live
the healthy lifestyles of their ancestors while surviving in this
ever-changing world.

Indian leaders, communities and nations need to assert nationhood to
decolonize the minds of their people. This means taking pride in unique
tribal
beliefs, cultures, religions and lifestyles and using this knowledge to make

long-term political, social and economic changes. The Northern Cheyenne
Nation has
begun to assert its nationhood.

Advocating against development of coalbed methane on and near Indian land
because of the land's cultural significance as well as potential
environmental
consequences is asserting nationhood. Traditional Cheyennes would not want
to
see CBM development on beautiful lands that Cheyenne people live on, let
alone
on land where their ancestors fought and bled for Cheyenne freedom.

Preservation of culture

Excluding institutions and people from obtaining Cheyenne oral traditions in
unethical, unprofessional and culturally inappropriate manners is asserting
nationhood. Traditional Cheyennes do not want to see their stories,
ceremonies
and cultural knowledge paraded around as if they were mere novelties for
exploitation.

Bringing legal action against institutions to demand just compensation is an
assertion of nationhood. Although non-Indian religions are respected,
traditional Cheyennes do not want to lose their own religion and cultural
identity.

Bringing back oral traditions, cultural teachings, social gatherings and
religious ceremonies into Cheyenne communities aids in the resistance
against
alcohol and drug abuse and other problems resulting from social unrest.
Traditional Cheyennes have always struggled to use the Cheyenne philosophy
to uplift the
spirits of their family members and communities. This assertion of
nationhood
has been the most difficult to achieve since the recent rise in the
methamphetamine drug market. This drug market is destroying all communities
in Montana.


Place names matter

Changing names of the towns on the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation,
from
non-Cheyenne names to names rooted in Cheyenne culture, is an assertion of
nationhood. Affirming Cheyenne place names does more for the Cheyenne people
than complaining about the agendas of tribal leaders. It instills ownership
of
one's community and encourages the use of the Cheyenne language. It is a
positive step.

Indian nations can facilitate change in their communities using their own
methods. For far too long Indian nations have been dependent on non-Indian
ideas
of governing, economic development and solutions to social problems.
Likewise,
for far too long Indian nations have failed because non-Indian ideas do not
work for Indian people. Nationhood leads to positive change.

It requires a lot of work and dedication from tribal leaders and members. We
have just begun to see the work and dedication of members of the Northern
Cheyenne Nation.



Leo Killsback is a Northern Cheyenne who lives in Busby and is enrolled in
the University of Arizona American Indian Studies Program
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Old 09-21-2005, 05:20 PM   #2
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names rooted in cheyenne culture should be in cheyenne and not an english translation of.

In fact I belief there should be no english usage anywhere on the reservation. I also think speaking cheyenne should be a requirement for citizenship.
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