Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Last Word || Native American Awareness Month: American Indians At the Back of The Bus in American Politics

©2012 Turtle Heart

America has nearly three million American Indians. Many of these human beings are sequestered on the American Indian Reservation system. Present financial obligations to these many American Indian communities is something like four billion dollars. There are also dozens of legal treaties, legal before law agreements on a variety of issues regarding the land, minerals, plants and other resources of those lands and of those people.

American Indians have, for many years in fact, been imposed to military orders, Christian missionaries, forced schooling, forced renunciation of their languages and ceremonial duties, and management by the United States government…

In modern times, every issue that affects American Indians, is placed on the back page, like an after thought, to congressional, senate, and federal legislation. Amendments and new policies are sneaked on to the back pages of lengthy legislation on any subject imaginable except American Indian affairs. Every single issue affecting American Indians stands way in the back of the bus. American Indian issues and people have no seat at any table, anywhere in the world.

Seeing the US President in Myanmar made my hair catch on fire. What if a sitting US President made a state visit to the Hopi Reservation, or the Apache, whose historic leader’s name was used to kill Osama bin Laden? Most American Indian reservations do not have the internet, schools or hospitals. Like many foreign countries, the people in charge of American Indian reservations are corrupt and/or incompetent. Like many foreign nations, American Indian reservations have human rights issues, undeveloped resources and few development opportunities. Allegedly, this is one of the motivations for presidential diplomacy…to encourage, support and stimulate less fortunate foreign nations. By law, American Indian reservations are foreign soil, sovereign in their own right, inside their own legal borders.

This report is a little dated, as we now passage into December. Post elections, the future of American Indian communities is no higher on the list than it was before. The new activity on the table is the pending release of so-called settlement checks for American Indians who are members of tribal communities robbed of their income by the federal government over a period of decades. Once again, not an issue most Americans have ever heard of. The original investigation concluded that tribal communities had been robbed of fifteen billion dollars in fees and commissions over the use of their lands and resources. Fifteen billion dollars trimmed down to three billion…the checks are in the mail. This is apparently good news. Somewhere.

American Indians are the most likely of all Americans to be murdered, raped, beaten, robed and cheated. They top all of the most violent statistics. In the US Government, American Indians are invisible, their rights and their future added as watered down after thoughts to the legislation that moves the Great American Dream forward. And this portfolio of disturbing news comes from a US President that is the most pro-active ever on American Indian issues.

Happy Native American awareness month.

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