For the purposes of this post, “Indians” and “Native Americans” will be used fairly interchangeably, as is indicative of my region and the history of which I am dealing. Also, “Chippewa” and “Ojibwe” or “Ojibway”, even though that is not always the case. Thanks for your leeway for giving me room to use our own words with our own history.
I love having the opportunity to get my grandfather in a chatty mood about things from my family’s heritage, and tribal fishing rights is as much a part of that as the blood that flows in our veins. It is a tradition that has been notched with contention and surrounded with controversy for literally over a century.
As far as my own tribe is concerned, tribal fishing rights were secured as part of the treaty of 1836, between, among some, the Ojibwe people of the Eastern Upper and Northern Lower Peninsula of Michigan as well as those the First Nations of Ottawa and the United States. A major motivating factor behind this treaty, for the U.S. government was to gain ceded land rights, since it stands obvious in our stellar history that the U.S. could not keep a promise to Native Peoples and First Nations Peoples. “Motivating factor” is less honest than “primary objective” really. They wanted the reserved land back, and it stood to tell what they were going to be willing to do to get it back. The State saw this as a “removal” treaty.
The sovereign nations native to the Great Lakes region secured for themselves rights to the entirety of most of the Great Lakes for fishing (and if I am not mistaken, hunting as well) “with the other usual privileges of occupancy, until the land is needed for settlement”.
Then, in 1971, a member of the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community was cited for pulling up a mere handful of lake trout in his herring nets, because instead of violating what he held sacred and wasting the fish, he kept them. It was said that he violated State fishing regulations, which he said he would not recognize under Treaty Law, which was to be supreme. The State was having none of this, you can be sure, saying that the Chippewas had ceded their sovereign rights to fishing when the land was settled, even though the treaty allowed otherwise, and even though the man in question was in no danger of upsetting the preservation of the lake trout population. (more…)
After almost a month of correspondence and petition signing, Congressman Stupak finally got around to having one of his aides respond to me. In fairness, this letter is fairly well tailored based on what I actually wrote, and yet, it is ridiculously condescending, and predictably skirting of anything that I said. Thanks for that.
It should also be noted, that my Congressman hates me. Yes. Me, specifically. He hates me as a Native Woman. There is no place for people like me in his world, because my health care needs won’t matter to him. Lest he forget, also, that there is a whole bunch of Michigan yet above the Mitten. “Northern Michigan” isn’t “above Traverse City”. There is a whole Peninsula left. It’s on the quarter and everything. HA!
So, Thanks for nothing, Mr. Stupak. Thanks for mansplaining that one. I’ll be sure to include this as the intro to your new Broadway show “Fuck You!: The Musical.
Letter after the jump. (more…)
05 November 2009
To mark the beginning of Native American Heritage Month, President Obama met with the Heads of First Nation and Tribal leaders in DC. The full transcript of his opening remarks can be found here, but something that was of particular interest to me was this passage:
But the future of Indian Country rests on something more: the education we provide our children. (Applause.) We know that Native Americans face some of the lowest matriculation rates and highest high school and college dropout rates. That’s why the Recovery Act also included $170 million for Indian education — (applause) — and $277 million for Indian school construction. And that’s why my budget provided $50 million in advanced funding for tribal colleges that are often economic lifelines for a community. (Applause.) Students who study at a tribal college are eight times less likely to drop out of higher education, they continue on to a four-year institution at a higher rate than students in community colleges, and nearly 80 percent end up in careers that help their tribal nation.
And none of our efforts will take root if we can’t even guarantee that our communities are safe — safe places to learn, safe places to grow, safe places to thrive. And on some reservations, violent crime is more than 20 times the national average. The shocking and contemptible fact that one in three Native American women will be raped in their lifetimes is an assault on our national conscience that we can no longer ignore. (Applause.)
So tribes need support in strengthening their law enforcement capability. They need better resources and more training. And my administration fully appreciates the complexity and challenges you face when it comes to the criminal justice system on tribal lands. But we need to have a serious conversation with regard to all aspects of your public safety, and that’s a conversation my administration is committed to doing. (Applause.)
So this is a challenge we take very seriously. The Department of Justice, the Department of the Interior, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Department of Health and Human Services are all working on ways to empower tribal governments to ensure greater safety in their own communities, and I want to particularly commend Attorney General Eric Holder for his efforts on this so far. I also strongly support the Tribal Law and Order Act, and I thank Chairman Dorgan and Representative Herseth-Sandlin for their leadership on this issue. And I look forward to Congress passing it so I can sign it into law. (Applause.)
He acknowledges the lack of fulfillment of any promises of any sort from anyone in Washington during the past regime. Good on him. I would also like to see the Tribal Law and Order Act passed into law. It will do a lot to help the disparity in protecting victims of violent crimes on Tribal land. It is good to see him acknowledge the 1 in 3 statistic of sexual violence against Native women.
Low high school graduation and higher education rates is also a major concern for Tribal families. Money is always tight, and despite what a lot of people think, tribal kids don’t just get to go to school for free. Education is the key to getting a foot out of poverty for a lot of people. It is a key to helping your community build itself up. Getting that education costs money.
President Obama signing this isn’t just a gesture (I hope). It means something. It’s important. He is making a commitment to Tribal Nations that Certain Past Presidents have forgotten (not that I am naming any names, but the last time anyone gave a damn his name rhymed w/ Clinton, Clinton, Oh, hells, it was Clinton).
I am hoping that this is the road that finally leads to a better life for Tribal Nations. Please, oh please let it be the right way to making life better for Tribal Nations.
I have done a lot of thinking in the last week since reading of Cecelia’s encounter. After a conversation w/ my very frustrated cousin I gave some thought to the stereotypes surrounding Native Americans. I don’t mean the ones that I usually get a little pissy about, but rather modern day stereotypes that people toss around lightly w/o even thinking. It might seem funny at the time, or even not a big deal, but I can assure you that it cuts all the same. (more…)
i am a little late, i blame this silly thing called work that gets in the way of my blogging, on sharing this news, via Ojibway Migisi Bineshii:
The U.S. Board on Geographic Names voted 11-2 on Thursday to rename Squaw Peak in Arizona for Lori Piestewa, the Hopi woman who died in action in Iraq. (more…)
Dear Senator David Vitter, Wendy Wright, and all the Democrats who voted to approve the Vitter Amendment,
if you haven’t paid attention, yesterday congress passed the Vitter Amendment, named for the notorious David Vitter, anti-choice extroidanaire. According to RH Reality Check, the language simply repeats the Hyde Amendment, which is famous for restricting Medicaid Recipients from family planning services, specifically abortion. the Vitter Amendment prohibits Indian Health Services (IHS) from using funds to provide abortions to Native American women.