Opinion: No such thing as an 'urban Indian'

" Bush's people need to understand there is no such thing as an urban Indian. There are tribal members living off the reservation who may live in the county of Los Angeles. Many of the Indians were brought to the city/county by the federal government and now you just can't say ''lets forget them, they should have stayed where they belonged.'' The people on the reservation don't speak of the urban Indians as strangers. They know them as their cousins, siblings or relations in the off-reservation area. When tribal conferences come to the cities the leaders will often ask for the local Indian groups to help with cultural or pow wow events. They know there is no separation between the tribal and off-reservation people. When cultural and tribal discussions occur, it only occurs when people like those in the White House try to create a division. Unfortunately, they sometimes will find a person who may claim to be an Indian leader who will agree.

And tribal and off-reservation people never speak of a ''difference'' between tribal and off-reservation, just as we don't ponder the difference between ''Anglo'' and ''Saxon''; we recognize the off-reservation people are separate only by distance and that is all.

Which then leads to the other mistake of the White House: using the phrase ''on or near'' in order to restrict services.

Each Indian resident in Los Angeles lives ''on or near a reservation,'' according to the government. In 1988 the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission stated ''In defining 'on or near an Indian reservation' in identifying employers that may lawfully exercise the Indian preference exception, EEOC says it will adopt an OFCCP [Office of Federal Contract Compliance] definition stating that the use of the word near will 'include all that area where a person seeking employment could reasonably be expected to commute to and from in the course of a work day.'' The EEOC then indicated that the reasonable commute distance was 100 miles one way. There is no other federal agency that has defined ''on or near'' as did the EEOC. Each of the ''urban'' clinics is within 100 miles of a reservation so the White House needs to learn its own policies regarding ''on or near.''"

Get the Story:
Ron Andrade: The education of President Bush (Indian Country Today 6/22)

Relevant Links:
National Council of Urban Indian Health - http://www.ncuih.org
Indian Health Service - http://www.ihs.gov

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