Opinion | Politics

Tim Giago: Tribes stand at major crossroads with Donald Trump in office






A "Love Trumps Hate" vigil in Washington, D.C., on November 12, 2016. Photo by Stephen Melkisethian

A call to form the ‘United Sovereign Indian Nations of America’
Notes from Indian Country
By Tim Giago (Nanwica Kciji – Stands Up For Them)

In what seemed like a virtual nightmare a misogynist bigot was elected as the President of the United States. Of course he is called the “President-Elect” until he is sworn in, but the ceremony itself is just a formality.

The fear among the people of the “Sovereign Indian Nations of America” should be genuine. President-Elect Donald Trump was emphatic in his opposition to Indian gaming and used his own form of racial insults to get his point across. “They don’t even look like Indians” was his favorite put-down. He slammed Senator Elizabeth Warren, who was born and raised in Oklahoma, as “Pocahontas.” Warren mentioned at one time that she believed she had some Indian blood but never ever used that claim to advance her career.

It is reported that Trump has holdings in the Dakota Access Pipeline and is so strong in his support of the oil industry that he is considering reviving the Keystone XL Pipeline, a project that was shut down by President Obama. There is great fear at the Indian Health Service that if, or we should say when, he rejects the Affordable Health Care Act, or Obama Care, as it was labeled by the Republicans, the Indian Health Service will be among the losers.

The emphasis on this editorial should be “Sovereign Indian Nations of America.” For too long the Indian Nations have been going their separate ways. The rich tribes have grown richer while the poor tribes have gone poorer. The large tribes known by some as “Treaty Tribes” have for the most part been left standing by the roadside. The saying “A House divided cannot stand” made famous during the Civil War, should be adopted by all of the Indian Nations.

Some may scoff, but I believe the election of Donald Trump will put the Sovereign Indian Nations of America at a crossroads they have not faced since the turn of the 19th century when their lands were being divided piece meal by a greedy Congress pushed hard by those who coveted that lands of the Sovereign Indian Nations of America.

And please, those of you who believe we should not be concerned or should not participate in this Nation’s elections remember this, it was an elected president, Abraham Lincoln, who signed off on the condemnation of 38 Sioux warriors for defending their country in the largest mass hanging in the history of America.

It was Teddy Roosevelt who, along with Congress, took millions of acres of Indian lands and turned them into National Parks. And to put an emphasis on what a president and a Congress can do in its infinite control over the Indian Nations, Google the Dawes Severity Act of 1887. By a stroke of a pen millions of acres of Indian land were opened up to the white settlers without the input of a single Native American.

I strongly suggest that the very wealthy tribes lead the fight to form a United Sovereign Indian Nations of America by bringing all of the sovereign tribes together in one united front. It would appear that history tells us that the Indian tribes could never unite in any endeavor, but when their very survival is on the line, it is time that history is changed.

The natural leader in this effort should be the National Congress of American Indians because they have the history and the wherewithal to do the job, but do they have the courage and determination?

50 years from now when the Indian people look back at this time in our history will they have strong regrets over what we have lost or will they have great praise for what we have won?

Candidate Hillary Clinton had the slogan that the Indian Nations must adopt; “We are stronger together.” Her loss is our loss.

Contact Tim Giago at unitysodak1@vastbb.net. Giago was the founder and first president of the Native American Journalists Association an organization that will be celebrating its 33 anniversary next year.

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