President Donald Trump. Photo: Shealah Craighead / White House

Steven Newcomb: Asserting our traditions in the era of Donald Trump

On June 15, 2015, real estate mogul Donald Trump announced his candidacy for president with incendiary remarks about immigrants and China. Now he's holding the highest-elected office in the United States and has thumbed his nose at Indian Country with actions in pipelines and climate change, among others. Against that backdrop, Steven Newcomb (Shawnee / Lenape) of the Indigenous Law Institute argues that the time is right for the original nations to reassert their traditional teachings:
The colonizing system of the United States has created at least three names for its system of domination in relation to our nations: “the trust relationship,” “plenary power, and “the law.” If and when we fundamentally oppose the concepts that hold together the U.S.’s idea-system of domination, we are considered to be against the U.S. system of “law” (i.e., the habit of obedience) and “U.S. national security.” This is made evident by The Intercept’s report on the TigerSwan Corporation and its treatment of Indigenous Water Protectors as rebellious “insurgents” who they assume threaten what I prefer to call the “national security” of the American empire’s system of domination.

There is a notion behind the phrase “trust relationship.” It is this: We have the right to “trust” our “masters,” our oppressors “to do right by us.” A simple definition of “justice” is, “to give one his or her due,” or “to give someone that to which he or she is rightfully entitled.” There’s a major problem, however. The colonizers have believed themselves to be “superior beings” who are rightfully entitled to tribute and obedience from our original nations. Tribute in the form of land and obedience to their imposed ideas they call “law.”

They have believed themselves as being rightfully entitled to “dominion” (a right of domination) over the soil and resources within the boundaries of our traditional territories. The first colonizers even believed themselves to be divinely anointed “lords.” For centuries, those self-appointed “lords” have been imposing a system of oppression on our nations, all in the name of “gifting” us “civilization” and “freedom.” They have used such words of trickery to bamboozle and deceive us. The reality system that the invaders eventually created is the result of their words being combined with their deep desire to manifest a way of life they called “American.”

Read More on the Story:
Steven Newcomb: Words, Reality, and the American Empire in the Age of Trump (Indian Country Media Network 6/18)