If you’re reading this, I’m sure I don’t have to tell you about the truly atrocious way the United States has treated Native Americans.
But there’s some things you may not know. For example, most tribal people are dual citizens. They are citizens of the United States and citizens of their tribal nation.
This isn’t lip service, either. Tribal nations are truly nations unto themselves; although, to the United States, they are “domestic dependent nations.”
This means that issues are different for Native Americans than they are for other racial and ethnic minorities.
For decades, the United States has eaten away at tribal sovereignty (the inherent right for tribes to govern themselves). This is a classic colonial move. In the type of colonialism we have in the United States–settler state colonialism–the end goal is the absolute abolishment of the entire indigenous population. It began with genocide, where indigenous people were literally slaughtered, and moved to boarding schools, when the goal was cultural genocide, and has consistently moved to make tribal nations “less than.” The end goal is the abolishment of tribal nations.
For this to end–for decolonization to happen–it would be good to have a president who understands that tribal nations ought to be treated as equals on a nation-to-nation basis.
Right now, there are only two candidates I trust to begin to establish that: Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.
A few years ago, during the movement at Standing Rock Reservation against the Dakota Access pipeline, Bernie Sanders stood openly, passionately and proudly with Native Americans. He stood up with them before former President Obama made even a small move to support tribal people. On his website, Bernie directly says that, in his administration, he will “Honor Native American tribal treaty rights and sovereignty, moving away from a relationship of paternalism and control toward one of deference and support.”
Because she falsely claimed to be Native American, Elizabeth Warren has been exceedingly schooled on Native issues. She now knows that being Native American isn’t so much about your percentage of Native heritage. It’s a political identity, not a genetic one. As retired professor Steve Russell is known to say, “It’s not about who you claim. It’s about who claims you.”
Beyond this, Warren understands the nation-to-nation relationship between Native nations and the United States. She pledges to uphold that.
Native American issues are among the issues I care about. They should be issues you care about, too, if you care about any political thing at all. I’m proudly voting for Bernie. Warren is my second choice. Those are the two mostly likely, out of this entire ordeal, to get things straightened out with Native Americans.