Indianz.Com Video: Tribal consultation and strengthening nation-to-nation relationships
Thanks to President Biden for Respecting Tribal Sovereignty and Nation-to-Nation Relations
Thursday, March 4, 2021

In the beginning, the Creator gave the breath of life to the first man and the first woman and gave our Lakota, Nakota, and Dakota People a sacred duty to care for Grandmother Earth.

From the dawn of the first day, our grandfathers and grandmothers came forth in the light of day. They lit the Council fire in the heart of the village. Together with our relatives, we formed the Seven Council Fires. We are the grandchildren of the Creator. With the Creator’s blessing, our Nation’s People are the source of our sovereignty.

Indian nations were sovereign independent nations for many thousands of years before the formation of the United States. In the first American treaty, the 1787 Treaty with the Delaware Nation, the United States sought “perpetual peace and friendship” and “free passage” across the Delaware territory to reach the British forts during while “the United States are engaged in a just and necessary war, in defence and support of life, liberty and independence, against the King of England and his adherents.”

Indianz.Com Video: ‘A new and better chapter’: President Joe Biden at National Congress of American Indians #NCAIECWS2021

The Seven Council Fires and our Lakota—Nakota—Dakota Territory were not an original part of the United States. America claimed Louisiana Territory through the 1803 Treaty with France, and the Louisiana Purchase Treaty provides that: “The United States promise to execute Such treaties and articles as may have been agreed between Spain and the tribes and nations of Indians until by mutual consent of the United States and the said tribes or nations other Suitable articles Shall have been agreed upon.”

In 1805, the United States came into the Territory of the Dakota, Minnesota—the land where the water reflects the clouds. On behalf of the United States of America, Colonel Zebulon Pike by treaty, asked the Dakota Oyate for an Island to build an outpost and sought Dakota recognition of United States’ sovereignty over the Island.

The hallmark of sovereignty is the power of self-defenses, in other words—War and Peace. The Sioux Nation fought in self-defense, defense of our women, children and elders, and our homes. In treaties with the Great Sioux Nation, the United States sought peace and friendship and pledged its honor to keep the peace. Our treaties are the Supreme Law of the Land made by mutual consent. Under International law, the Constitution and Organic laws, the United States is bound to “faithfully observe” and “rigidly” adhere to our treaties.

Rodney M. Bordeaux. Photo: State Farm

The Constitution acknowledges Indian nations and tribes as prior sovereigns by ratifying the existing treaties with Indian nations and authorizing future treaties in the Treaty and Supremacy Clauses, by authorizing “Commerce … with the Indian Tribes” on a bi-lateral basis, and by recognizing the primacy of tribal jurisdiction over tribal citizens, that is “Indians not taxed” in the Apportionment Clause and the 14th Amendment.

The 14th Amendment Citizenship Clause did not bestow citizenship on Native Americans by birth, but rather, American Indians were naturalized by the 1924 Indian Citizenship Act, where Native Americans reserved our original connection to our tribal homelands. By treaty, the Great Sioux Nation reserved our tribal citizens’ full treaty rights when becoming U.S. citizens. The Nationality Act continues Federal recognition of our tribal homelands as our “permanent homes.”

The status of Indian nations as prior sovereigns is historical truth. The principle of inherent sovereignty is our Native Peoples’ first principle—the reflection of our rights to life, liberty and homeland. Our chiefs, Spotted Tail, Red Cloud, Crazy Horse, and Sitting Bull led our People in the fight for our rights. Today we maintain our rights with our lives.

Coming from the House of Representatives, President Biden’s American Rescue Plan treats Federally Recognized Indian Tribes as Tribal Governments alongside State and Local Governments. In his first week in the White House, President Biden pledged to “Respect Tribal Sovereignty” and signed an Executive Order to Strengthen Our Nation-to-Nation Relationships—the Restoration of the Nation-to-Nation Policy.

Wopila Tanka, Many Thanks President Biden. We respect you as well.


Rodney M. Bordeaux was born and raised in Rosebud, South Dakota, and enjoyed a childhood on the beautiful Rosebud Reservation learning the importance of community involvement and public service. Bordeaux has dedicated much of his professional life to serving the Rosebud Sioux Tribe including twenty years in education, twelve years on the tribal council, and is serving his fourth term as President.

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