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Tim Giago: The road to true tribal sovereignty
Tuesday, March 14, 2006

"John Reyhner, Northern Arizona University, a man who has written extensively on Indian education, expressed some very cogent thoughts on Indian sovereignty. He wrote that sovereignty involves taking back control and taking responsibility for one’s life and for one’s nation rather than leaving it to others to make decisions for you. “It can mean paying taxes to support one’s tribal government; it means choosing competent, visionary leaders, and it means being educated,” he wrote.

He continued, “ Sovereignty means that one has to deal with other sovereign nations on a government-to-government basis and that involves knowledge about laws, treaties, policies, business, economics, and a vast variety of subjects that cannot be dealt with without a modern education.”

Reyhner believes that you are not a sovereign nation if you have to call in a “white guy” every time something breaks down. In other words if you have to call a white mechani lawyer, or a medical doctor to fix your car, handle your legal matters, or see to your health, you are not sovereign.

Reyhner touched upon something many of us have been writing about for years. I started a newspaper on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota because like Mr. Reyhner, I firmly believe that if we want to move into the 21st century as a sovereign people, we have to start doing things by ourselves and for ourselves.

So much of what lies ahead is wrapped up in how we educate our children. If they do not stay in school or go on to a higher education they will become a part of the problem instead of a part of the solution.

We need our own engineers, accountants, business managers, teachers, college professors, doctors, lawyers, construction companies, newspapers, radio stations, television stations, department stores, gas stations, hotels, banks, schools and colleges. In other words, we need to take control of our own lives, our own resources and our own destiny."

Get the Story:
Tim Giago: Seeking the road to sovereignty (The Native American Times 3/13)

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