The United Federation of Nations and Tribes proposal. ©
David GreyOwl, (AKA, Wahya Carnes, David H. Carnes)
28 Nov. 2016
To all Natives who will hear my voice. To all the Natives who will want to understand, and to all the Natives who know and understand it is time. While and when we continue to wish and hope and wait for other cultures to recognize us as Native peoples, our rights, our traditions, our very lives continue to ebb away.
In a country where we are still considered invisible people, we have little voice, if a voice at all in deciding our own fates as a people. As many of us know, we have been relegated to be seen as a culture that resides in museums, cowboy movies, or we are identified by a casino. Our nations, whether the nations are federally recognized or not, have had shaky relationships with the federal government since the arrival of non-Natives. The history and reality of that statement speaks for itself.
Standing Rock is a prime example, of late, that exemplifies the poor relationship Natives have with governments in this country. I don’t need to go into detail. We all are watching what is happening in ND. Maybe ND is the beginning of what I am going to suggest. Maybe the beginning for what I will be suggesting, started a while ago. The when does not matter as much as why.
I believe in my heart, Native peoples need to begin to recognize themselves. I believe Native peoples need to stop waiting for other cultures to recognize us. Why do we need to beg to be recognized? Why do we need a government, who did not recognize us as humans, or citizens until 1924, tells us through a flawed system whether or not we are Natives?
Are we that starved for recognition and acceptance? Again, it is time for Natives, collectively, federally recognized, state recognized and tribes who can’t get either governmental recognition, to begin to join hands and recognize one another. It is time for Natives to join together and support one another. To succeed as a people, I feel this is something we HAVE to do for our survival. It is time for Natives to look to our collective futures.
Again, I reference, Standing Rock as an example of nations coming together. Throughout many Native cultures, we talk about the next seven generations. Those teachings are extremely important BUT, those children and grandchildren will have a much more difficult time than we are having right now if we do not do something to ensure their futures.
There are over 565 federally recognized tribes in this country. In my opinion, that equates to over 565 islands, separate and aside from one another. There are many state recognized tribes as well, and those tribes are also islands, separate and aside from one another. Yes, some tribes will work with other tribes, but that still equates to separatism with little power to do very much.
My suggestion to ensure the survival of Native peoples, and to ensure futures of the next seven generations is to form a United Federation of Nations and Tribes in the US. That would mean ALL of the nations in this country coming together for the benefit of ALL Natives. It would not matter if a nation was federally recognized, state recognized or with no governmental recognition.
I believe, as a unified body, we will have a greater voice, a greater presence, and the opportunity to determine our own destinies instead of waiting for someone to decide who we are, what we can do, and when we can do something. There are many who will doubt something of this scale can, or would work. There are some who will balk at the notion of not wanting to jeopardize their badge of federal or state recognition. That is fine. I hear many talk about self-determination. Here is the Merriam Webster definition of self-determination.
Definition of self–determination
1. 1: free choice of one's own acts or states without external compulsion
2. 2: determination by the people of a territorial unit of their own future political status
I hardly believe any nation is living under self-determination. It is not my goal to preach to anyone. My goal is to hopefully help us all see that we are on a slippery slope, and it has no benefit for Native peoples. I don’t have to recount all of the lies told to Natives over the years, the theft of lands and resources from within nation’s boundaries, the countless murders of our people, murders, theft and lies that still continue today. We are all aware of what Native people have endured over the last 500 years. That is all the more reason why I suggest a United Federation of Nations and Tribes.
It is time to cast away the tools we have been given to hasten our own demise, and begin to determine our own directions and futures. How will that happen? It is going to take the desire, courage, resources, commitment, honesty and the will of everyone to make it happen. Creating a United Federation of Nations and Tribes will not happen overnight, but with steadfastness, it can happen.
Creating a United Federation of Nations and Tribes does not mean throwing away existing cultures. It does not mean casting aside existing programs. It does mean creating regional hospitals/medical centers, schools, places of worship, if desired and Native businesses, many of the things that are sorely lacking throughout Indian country. Open the medical facilities to non-Natives. Open the schools to non-Natives. Encourage non-Natives to patronize Native businesses. That should be a given, but those entities will be established on Native terms, owned by Native people.
In closing. With any new idea, suggestion, theory, or plan, there are things that need to be ironed out, kinks to be straightened, and changes to be made. Together, as Native people, collectively, we can determine our own futures. Thank you for your time.
David GreyOwl, (AKA Wahya Carnes, and David H. Carnes).