Opinion: Rules make it harder for Natives at border

"A new chapter began in January with Canada's relationship with the United States concerning new regulations that require passports for air passengers entering the U.S. All non-Americans need a passport to enter the United States and Americans require one to re-enter.

This is not going over well in Indian country, and for good reason. The border has been in place only for about 200 years and it's completely arbitrary when it comes to our traditional national boundaries.

In Saskatchewan, members of the Dakota Nation sought asylum in Canada following the Battle of the Little Bighorn. In reality, they had been coming to Canadian territory for years, with their hunting territory extending into southern Manitoba and Saskatchewan.

In the late 1800s, members of the Cree Nation hunted in the Bear Paw Mountains of Montana and went as far south as the Missouri River. The Rocky Boy's Reservation is a Cree community located in Montana. The borders for the First Nations of Turtle Island have been fluid and overlapped the boundary for years, with the 49th parallel or 'medicine line' considered only a minor inconvenience.

Probably the strongest example of disregard for borders is the Mohawk Nation at Akwesasne - a unique tract of land that spans the Ontario and Quebec borders and the Canada/U.S. border. There are three councils and three jurisdictions, but people freely cross to work, live and marry on all sides of these lines. "

Get the Story:
Doug Cuthand: Passport restrictions fly in the face of tradition (Indian Country Today 3/2)

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