Brenda Golden: What change means to an Indian person
"Back on the subject of President Barack Obama and his campaign slogan, “Hope for Change” – I do believe that he was elected because people in the United States were ripe and ready for change. With the election of the first black American to the highest office in the United States, it is indeed the things that dreams are made of, while the President has said now that he did not fully understand exactly how deeply in trouble this nation is in until he got in office. And yet some of us continue to hope, we hope that he will be able to fulfill his promises to make significant changes in policies and in the nation’s administration. When it comes to American Indians there are several areas where change for the better would be most welcome.

More recognition of sovereignty is one area that many of us speak of when we hope for things to change for American Indians. Sovereignty is defined by the Heritage Dictionary as 1) Supremacy of authority or rule as exercised by a sovereign or sovereign state; 2) Royal rank, authority, or power; 3) Complete independence and self-government and 4) A territory existing as an independent state. Sovereignty also means: the right and power to command, decide, rule, or judge as well as the condition of being politically free. The fact that the Founders of the Constitution made a clause relating to Indian Tribes as a separate faction of people to be dealt with by Congress is how some view the Indians’ right to claim sovereign status. However, the tribal nations did not ever relinquish their right to exist as a separate and independent self governing entity, it was taken away in a variety of ways.

Sovereignty in fact would mean that tribal nations are equal in footing to states if not the United States and other countries around the world. A few years ago the members of the Strongheart Warrior Society travelled to Washington DC and proclaimed their succession from the United States and declared themselves The Republic of Lakotah. On one hand there were many people who admired the chutzpah of the group to make such a bold statement, on the other hand the group did not have the backing of all the Lakotah people to do such a thing on their behalf. Following that declaration, I heard people saying that the Lakota Nations depend on federal aid and grants for much of their sustenance. “What will happen to us if the federal aid is taken away?” they asked, with much wringing off their hands. "

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Brenda Golden: What “Change” Would Mean to Me as an American Indian (The Washington Examiner 5/24)