To free the land, you must first free your mind...

This is a conceptual platform for the expression of ideas and issues initiating discussion and action. The communiqué's are my perceptions, opinions and vision about contemporary issues/causes, people I admire & respect, and my goals for the future. My main focus is on the Chahta People by sharing our past to plan for the future today!

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

The Grass Still grows: American Indian Citizenship Act (June 2, 1924)

"There, beyond the limits of any State, in possession of land of their own, which they shall possess as grass grows or water runs. I am and will protect them and be their friend and father"
Andrew Jackson (message to the Chahta People)

It is sad to say that in 9 years, there will be celebrations in honor of this day, but neither the President or the local Kiwanis Club will ask me to speak about what the 1924 American Citizenship Act means to me. My opinion on this is too controversial to those who grew up saluting the flag and reciting the pledge of allegiance. We were all conditioned to believe the lies our teachers taught us in school with their fairy tale version of history and mythical holidays like Thanksgiving.
The imposition of the citizenship act was like shackling us in manacles and throwing away the key. Up until that point, our ancestors had been hunted down and massacred for defending the land and their people, jailed or punished for adhering to our spirituality and customs, their children kidnapped and reprogrammed in their boarding schools, if they lived through the heartbreaking experience. The motto was kill the Indian, save the man. Native people were exiled from their homelands into a concentration camp for prisoners of war that they called Indian Territory. Some went under duress, while others were placed in chains and made the brutal journey that was described as a "Trail of Tearss and Death". Even once we were all here, it still wasn't good enough.

To continue their genocidal acts, our lands that we were exiled to, was again being high-jacked to destroy our communal way of living. By what right did they have to do this one must wonder? According to Senator Dawes:

"The head chief told us that there was not a family in that whole nation that had not a home of its own. There was not a pauper in that nation, and the nation did not own a dollar. It built its own capitol, and it built its schools and its hospitals. Yet the defect of the system was apparent. They have got as far as they can go because they own their land in common. It is Henry George's system, and under that there is no enterprise to make your home any better than that of your neighbours. There is no selfishness, which is at the bottom of civilisation. Til this people will consent to give up their lands, and divide them among their citizens so that each can own the land he cultivates, they will not make much more progress."

When some of the Natives began resisting the allotment under Chitto Harjo, Muscogee, it was known as the Crazy Snake Rebellion. The government couldn't have someone blocking their intent to "civilize" their Indians. Still, the allotment happened anyway, and our loss came even though the federal government had promised the Chahta people that Indian Territory would never be made into a state or become a part of the Union in Article IV of the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek:

The Government and people of the United States are hereby obliged to secure to the said Choctaw Nation of Red People the jurisdiction and government of all the persons and property that may be within their limits west, so that no Territory or state shall ever have a right to pass laws for the government of the Choctaw Nation of Red People and their descendants; and that no part of the land granted them shall ever be embraced in any Territory or State; but the U. S. shall forever secure said Choctaw Nation from, and against, all laws except such as from time to time may be enacted in their own National Councils, not inconsistent with the Constitution, Treaties, and Laws of the United States; and except such as may, and which have been enacted by Congress, to the extent that Congress under the Constitution are required to exercise a legislation over Indian affairs. But the Choctaws, should this treaty be ratified, express a wish that Congress may grant to the Choctaws the right of punishing by their own laws any white man who shall come into their nation and infringe any of their national regulations.

The State of Oklahoma emerged over the objections of the Native people who resided there. And through the work of Angie Debo, the truth of what took place is chronicled in her books. Even when the citizenship act was passed, the Ft. Sill Apaches were still prisoners of war and did not receive a pardon until a few years later. Still, it wasn't until 1957 that Native people were even allowed to vote in spite of having citizenship imposed upon them.

Years ago, the late Carter Camp told me of a meeting the American Indian Movement had with some Black Panthers. They felt we could be more effective if we were to join together since we were all fighting for the same thing. Carter asked, "What is that?" Equality." They replied. Carter said it wouldn't work because we aren't fighting for equality, we are fighting for liberation!

Today, even though we are a sovereign people, we have no voice or vote in the United Nations because we are considered a domestic concern of the United States. Meanwhile, the US continues to erode what sovereignty we have left. Through the 1934 Indian Reorganization Act and the Oklahoma Indian Welfare Act of 1936, we have a semblance of government. However, just like inmate prison organization, the formation and procedures must be approved by the Warden (BIA).
The Marshall decision in the early 1800's set about some standards that has judicially made us wards of the federal government. Almost 200 years later, we still remain captives of these decisions and the federal government.

Does being born in captivity grant the US the right to catalog like a museum specimen or artifact as "American"? No one has the right to confiscate the identity of another person. And I maintain my right to identify myself and defend our sovereignty. We are still moving towards liberation.