Harold Monteau: Being Indian is more than just race or culture

"We need to stop thinking about being “Indian” as being a matter of race or culture (both of which are just part of our reality) and think about being Indian in terms of citizenship in a “Native Nation.” Race should not define us although it is part of our reality. Culture is dynamic and changes (sometimes slowly and sometimes quickly) and should not define being Indian although it too is part of our reality.

Being an Indian is defined by the indigenous group we come from. All of us have an articulated sense of our place in “the group,” and in most cases, that is a Native or Indigenous Nation. Others have a sense of being in a group which is rather undefined but might best be referred to as the “United Native Nation” similar to the United States or United Arab Emirates. This sense of belonging to the group of Native Nations, as a whole, is something that transcends borders and goes with you wherever you are in the world. At present our being in a Native American Nation is defined by how we are defined in treaties by the colonizers. At some time in the future, as we did in the past and some still do, Native American Nations can come together in a confederacy (like the Iroquois Confederacy) or we can come together in a United Native Nation, the commonality being our status as Native Nations. It may be imperative to our survival."

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Harold Monteau: Native Nations Should Define Themselves (Indian Country Today 8/11)

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