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Forum Home - Go Back > General > Native Life > Native Issues Why aren’t we the ones defining ourselves Why aren’t we the ones defining ourselves

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Old 11-22-2011, 01:01 PM   #1
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Why aren’t we the ones defining ourselves

Hello All,
I’ve been doing a lot of reading (news articles/threads) and a lot of thinking lately and I wanted to bring a couple of old threads back and start up a discussion. Sorry if any of this comes off a bit brash. Before I begin my ramble, let me give a summary of myself.
I am a member of a state recognized tribe, but could be a member of a federally recognized one. I choose not to enroll with a federally recognized tribe for several reasons, including; ‘not wanting funding from the federal government’, ‘not wanting to be part of something that is monitored/controlled(via funding) by the US government’, ‘not wanting to be part of something defined by outsiders (ie: federal government / BIA), ‘wanting to participate with others of the same heritage as me’, ‘wanting to practice traditional ceremonies’, ‘wanting to support others in my tribe’, and ‘wanting to interact with and support other Native Americans’. I regularly (at least a few times a year) come under attack (usually verbal, but not always) because I am a member of a state recognized tribe with accusations that I’m in in for the money, which is not true. I regularly tell other people off who ask me what money is in being a member of a tribe. I do pay an annual fee to my tribe, because I support that my tribe is independent from federal funding. I view it as more of a tax so that our tribe can run without needing the federal funding.
What has brought this up is the way things are currently defined. State-recognized vs federally-recognized, blood quantum, who is Native American and who isn’t, whose allow to practice traditional culture, whose allowed access to traditional resources (feathers, deer skin, sites, etc)… all these things are define outside of Native American communities. So the point of this thread is how do we go about defining ourselves and why aren’t we the ones defining ourselves already?
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Old 11-22-2011, 01:03 PM   #2
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Question Why aren't we defining ourselves: part 2

My ideal would be tribes around the US forming a joint council. Representatives from each tribe (state and federal) come together and talk about and define who a Native American is and how a tribe is defined. It would remove all the current labels, which were given to us by the BIA, like state-recognized, federally-recognized, and blood quantum and start fresh with something we decide for ourselves. We then tell the federal government and BIA who we are and see what happens from there. As separate groups we are typically ignored, but hopefully together we’d have a stronger voice.
For me, a Native American is someone who fulfills two criteria; has Native American heritage and currently practices and participates in Native American culture. Scrap the blood quantum thing and use a cultural definition… because we are a diverse set of cultures, not a blood bank.
I would then keep some sort of distinction between federal tribes and state tribes, but not with those labels or current meanings. Tribes should be those that have government to government relations and have had them for a long time (current federally recognized tribes). They should be the ones receiving funding based upon agreements with the US. The funding should be given as an annual lump sum to each tribe and then the tribe decides how to distribute it (health care, resource management, etc.). The US shouldn’t decide what percent of the money goes to what. Tribes are sovereign groups and should be treated as such. Currently state recognized shouldn’t have funding (hopefully this will reduce the number of fraudulent groups, if there is no money in it). For one reason or another we don’t have the same relationship with the US. We should be called something separate, like a band, that way in law the two can be clearly separated. Regardless of label, both groups (currently federal and state) should be allowed to practice the culture and members should have access to cultural resources.

What does everyone else think?

Do any of my thoughts make sense or am I just ranting?
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Old 11-22-2011, 07:50 PM   #3
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Svno,

I understand what you are trying to say. But there are some realities that are tied to your point....

American Indians have treaty rights that they have exchanged for their lands and in some cases lives. In these treaty rights are provisions for basic social, health, education, housing etc.

The U.S government in our Trust Relationship, regulates these provisions.

So are we true sovereign nations? No. We don't have standing armies or print our own currency. We are sovereign dependents/domestic dependent nations. Like many other sovereigns around the world we get funding from the U.S. goverment to run our governments.

While some tribes could make it without the help of U.S. government funding, most can't afford to break ties with the U.S. goverment. But why should we? This is our right as American Indians and Alaskan Natives, through law.
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Old 11-23-2011, 02:33 PM   #4
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Unhappy

Very true. It is definitely our right, especially those in federal tribes. And there is no reason why the financial support should change (maybe increase in many cases). I just wish that the control over defining who we were didn't rest so heavily on others. Like having a council choose who to recognize as Native American and their level of recognition, rather than someone outside of the communities. I just feel that some of the laws and restrictions that are in place now are tend to divide us more, rather than support us.

It could just be me though. I've been told plenty of times that I shouldn't be considered Native, since I registered non-federally. However, my family kept our traditions (many past down in secret) out of fear of having someone shipped off to a "school" or something else like that. I'm mostly trying to figure out if there is a solution anymore (or at least something better than the way it is today) or if just something too far beyond today's reach.

And don't get me wrong... I know today is better than it was. I can at least openly say I'm Native American without worrying that I'll instantly get shot.

Perhaps I'm just too impatient and need to give changes time to happen. It was only a couple decades ago that we "began" having the right to practice our religions and keep our children within the tribe.
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Old 11-24-2011, 10:24 AM   #5
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And don't get me wrong... I know today is better than it was. I can at least openly say I'm Native American without worrying that I'll instantly get shot.
Openly say? All it took for the white folk to kill us was to look at our faces. They didn't wait for us to "openly say" anything.
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Old 11-24-2011, 10:34 AM   #6
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State-recognized vs federally-recognized, blood quantum, who is Native American and who isn’t, whose allow to practice traditional culture, whose allowed access to traditional resources (feathers, deer skin, sites, etc)… all these things are define outside of Native American communities. So the point of this thread is how do we go about defining ourselves and why aren’t we the ones defining ourselves already?
We do define ourselves and we fight about it. In my opinion, I see state tribes as the people who hid behind a white-face. They ran and swept their heritage under the carpet like dust. This may not be true for all tribes but the way you present yourselves makes me question everyone.
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Old 11-24-2011, 12:27 PM   #7
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We do define ourselves and we fight about it.
No, we fight about because we can't.

Further, if we could, it wouldn't be any better.

The idea that this place was Utopia before the white man and would be -- now -- without him is crap. Reality is that we can't afford to walk away from the BIA (the Cherokee Nation just got Fed slapped about their election voting rights) so we're left as serfs.

As for still holding some BOGUS (and inaccurate) grudge that all state tribes hid I'd remind you that, eventually, everyone surrendered and capitulated: the idea that any tribe is superior to another by continuing armed rebellion longer -- mostly by virtue of being further West -- is crap.

Let it go.
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Old 11-24-2011, 03:08 PM   #8
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No, we fight about because we can't.

Further, if we could, it wouldn't be any better.
That is your opinion. My opinion says that the Yanktonai Hunkpati with all of our flaws can define who we are.
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Old 11-24-2011, 04:21 PM   #9
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That is your opinion.
And it's correct.

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My opinion says that the Yanktonai Hunkpati with all of our flaws can define who we are.
And you're just plain inaccurate.

We are to the world what they perceive, not what we'd prefer to be.
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Old 11-25-2011, 10:44 AM   #10
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And it's correct.



And you're just plain inaccurate.

We are to the world what they perceive, not what we'd prefer to be.
At least my inaccurate thoughts keep me happy. Let it go, lol.
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Old 11-25-2011, 11:32 AM   #11
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At least my inaccurate thoughts keep me happy. Let it go, lol.
You know what? I can't really argue with that: it's a method used effectively by millions of people and -- I will admit -- reality doesn't always please me.

I just think you can't make yourself anything, no matter how much you desire it or how hard you try, if everyone else believes you're "something else."
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Old 11-27-2011, 02:23 AM   #12
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Can reality be what we want to make it?

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You know what? I can't really argue with that: it's a method used effectively by millions of people and -- I will admit -- reality doesn't always please me.

I just think you can't make yourself anything, no matter how much you desire it or how hard you try, if everyone else believes you're "something else."
But is it possible to do anything to help that reality? To make it something we prefer?

I know its not an easy question, but that's why I picked it. Its not something I've been able even really wrap my head fully around, and I wanted to get a feel for what others think about it.
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Old 11-28-2011, 12:48 PM   #13
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In my opinion, WE Do define ourselves, no matter what society, cultures, or other people, think about us. We as a people, (insert tribe clan and/or family here) define who we are by our actions, our beliefs, our values, our religion or lack there of, our history, our future that we aspire to reach, our past, our mistakes, our corrections, our, etc, etc, etc.

It is what it is man, we are sovereign dependents. Zeke is correct in saying that eventually ALL surrendered, made deals and agreed to treaties, but that still does not define who we are as a people. I mean, the world screams that America is evil, and they burn our flag, but their opinions, (based on their lack of knowledge of us, lack of experience in our way of life, and biased opinion, concluded by the stark contrast of American life to their own) does not define US as a Nation. Zeke and I go at it here and there on the forum, and I think he's a bit of a jerk, (not to trying to get a fight going), and I'm sure he thinks the same about me, but, my opinion of Zeke, does not define Zeke, it just defines him to me, and vice-a-verse.

Furthermore, if you want to separate yourself from the U.S. Government, well,... that would also mean their $$$ as well, other wise you still are a sovereign dependent. Sorry dude, you can't have it both ways.

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Old 11-28-2011, 03:40 PM   #14
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I know it’s impossible to separate and that we are all dependent one way or another. I just didn't want to receive funding. There are so many others who need it more than I do and who deserve the support more than I do.

I suppose what bothers me most is the fact that the US can apply laws to us differently, without a real say from us. Not long ago we had a senator (I won't say who... not in the mood to start a fight if someone loves her) say that a state tribe doesn't really have constitutional rights and that the freedom to practice native religion (AIRFA and the first amendment) only applies to federal tribes. She eventually back-peddled on the first amendment/constitution part of that statement, but it still bothers me that that is even a thought that's out there. While money received is based on status of the tribe (and should be), culture and cultural practices shouldn't be based on status.

I feel like we all spend so much time fighting and bickering with each other, that sometimes we forget what it’s all really about. I just wish we could get past the state tribes are just thieves thing (by not giving us money meant specifically for tribes due to treaties would be fine, if that's the decision by everyone) and move onto something more important like ensuring religious freedom and legal access to cultural sites / resources for every Native American, regardless of their status.
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Old 11-28-2011, 04:14 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Svnoyi Gvtsanoste View Post
I just wish we could get past the state tribes are just thieves thing (by not giving us money meant specifically for tribes due to treaties would be fine, if that's the decision by everyone) and move onto something more important like ensuring religious freedom and legal access to cultural sites / resources for every Native American, regardless of their status.
Well as much as I hate to say this, some of those laws, requirements, regulations and/or treaties are there to protect us from ever perched scam artists, liars and plastic shamans, not to mention every nut who had an ancestor bed down with a native, 12 generations back and claim they have a right to be accepted and dance for their tribe. I mean it's bad enough with these people like that Jame Ray dude or however you spell his name, if you haven't experienced it where you are at you should come down here to AZ and check out the long line of whack jobs, claiming to have been Geronimo in a former life, and charging $1000 a shot for a walk in the desert. Or claiming to be the "medicine man" or "Shaman" of a long lost tribe. Try to tell you they were taught the way by the spirit of Black Elk, and their claiming to be a fake Cherokee Tribe. Some I've met have actually tried to convince me that they were taught the way by Black Elk himself, and they were in their early twenties. And did I mention there is no pigmentation in their skin at all? There is NO total separation. The only way that will happen is if you get your state to secede from the Union. As far as the $$$ goes, if you don't want it, donate it somewhere. I know plenty of hungry folks in the streets of Phoenix who could use a hand.
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Old 11-29-2011, 12:01 PM   #16
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Sadly they seem to be everywhere. I've had plenty tell me about their walrus spirit guide or how a "vision" told them they were some lost decendent of someone. I'm never quite sure what to do with them all.
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Old 11-29-2011, 12:15 PM   #17
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Sadly they seem to be everywhere. I've had plenty tell me about their walrus spirit guide or how a "vision" told them they were some lost decendent of someone. I'm never quite sure what to do with them all.
I usually suggest that they might want to go to Yellow Stone to go become one with the bears.
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Old 11-29-2011, 12:49 PM   #18
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I usually suggest that they might want to go to Yellow Stone to go become one with the bears.
What have you got against the bears? lol
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Old 11-29-2011, 01:00 PM   #19
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What have you got against the bears? lol


It's a circle of life thing, lol. I just give them what they want. the digested potions of them become waste, which becomes fertilizer, which becomes plant life, which becomes food, which becomes waste, which becomes fertilizer, which becomes, etc, etc, etc. I'm helping them become 1 with ALL nature. oops, I mean LOL
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Old 11-29-2011, 03:55 PM   #20
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It's a circle of life thing, lol. I just give them what they want. the digested potions of them become waste, which becomes fertilizer, which becomes plant life, which becomes food, which becomes waste, which becomes fertilizer, which becomes, etc, etc, etc. I'm helping them become 1 with ALL nature. oops, I mean LOL
Wouldn't sending them to the city dump/land fill achieve the same thing... only faster? Those seagulls are quick to grab scraps...lol
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