1. What examples of “self-determination” are discussed in the video “Beyond Sovereignty”? What solutions do the panelists provide for different issues? Write only 60 words!
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Slide 1: Welcome to our Module 14 PowerPoint lecture! For our final lecture and final week of new materials for the semester, we will be discussing the final chapters of our textbook: Doctrine of Discovery + The Future of the United States.
Slide 2: Before we get started, there are a couple of questions that are important to consider as we read through this weekâ€™s materials. Why is the chapter called â€œThe Doctrine of Discoveryâ€? We discussed this term at the beginning of the semester – why and how is this term returning at the end of the textbook? How does â€œThe Doctrine of Discoveryâ€ seem to manifest itself in modern times?
Slide 3: Throughout the chapter, â€œDoctrine of Discovery,â€ the author Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz discusses how the Doctrine of Discovery is often taken for granted and rarely mentioned in historical/legal texts, even though â€œthe doctrine of discovery remains the basis for federal laws still in effect that control Indigenous peoplesâ€™ lives and destinies, even their histories by distorting themâ€ as the author explains on p 198. From the mid 15th century to the mid 20th century, most of the non-European world was colonized under the doctrine of discovery. This was the same for the United States. Not long after the founding of the US, in 1792, then Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson claimed that the Doctrine of Discovery developed by European states was international law and applicable to the new US government as well. Through the Doctrine of Discovery, European and Euro-American â€˜discoverersâ€™ gained property rights in the lands of Indigenous peoples by merely planting a flag, which seems kind of silly right? Comedian Eddie Izzard makes fun of this concept and brings up interesting points in this short clip, â€œDo you have a flag?â€ Click on the hyperlink provided on the slide for a good laugh!
Slide 4: Much of the final chapters discuss the importance and transforming power of the terms â€œsovereigntyâ€ and â€œself-determinationâ€ for Indigenous peoples. Through the Doctrine of Discovery, Indigenous rights to sovereignty, as their own independent nations, were diminished. In other words, Indigenous peoples could live on the land, but title resided with the â€œdiscovering power.â€ Later decisions concluded that Native nations would be â€œdomestic, dependent nationsâ€ within the US. However, Indigenous nations seek political autonomy or control of their social/political institutions without compromising their unique cultural values. The author explains that the question of self-determination is a recent historical phenomenon, and that the â€œcentral concern for Indigenous peoples in the US is prevailing upon the federal government to honor hundreds of treaties and other agreements concluded between the US and Indigenous nations as between two sovereign statesâ€¦ [These] [d]emands to have treaties and agreements upheld haveâ€¦ accelerated [ever] since the end of the termination era.â€ P 203
Slide 5: Now weâ€™ll zoom in on some strides forward for Self-Determination and Sovereignty. The Indian Self-Determination Act of 1975 validated Indigenous control over their own social and economic development with continuation of federal financial obligations under treaties and agreements. It was the result of over 15 years of efforts: from American Indian activism, American Indian Movement/Civil Rights Movement, and grassroots political participation, and it helped reverse 30 year efforts by the federal government to dissolve treaty relationships and obligations to Indian tribes under the former termination policy.
Slide 6: Another stride forward was the 1978 Indian Child Welfare Act. It was enacted because of the high removal rate of Indian children from traditional homes/cultures. Between 25-35% of Indian children were being removed from families, which was a severe threat to cultural survival. The act gave tribal governments exclusive jurisdictions over child custody proceedings that involve Indian children.
Slide 7: Another stride forward for Indigenous self-determination and sovereignty happened with the 1986 formation of the National Indian Gaming Association, which served the purpose of lobbying state and federal governments and representing the interests of its members. However, in 1988, Congress passed the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, which gave states some control over gaming. This was seen as a threat to sovereignty for those Native nations operating casinos. Today, Indigenous casinos is $26 billion industry that employs over 300,000 people nationwide. Around 50% of 564 federally recognized nations are currently operating casinos of various sizes, and the profits gained are used in many ways â€“ from per capita payments, to educational and linguistic development, to building housing and hospitals, and investments in larger projects.
Slide 8: Following the 1973 Occupation of Wounded Knee, AIM brought together 5000+ Indigenous representatives (from Latin America and the Pacific as well) and founded the International Treaty Council, which applied for and received UN nongovernmental consultative status in 1975. At the UN of Indigenous Peoples of the Americas conference in 1977, Northern Cheyenne tribal judge Marie Sanchez opened the proceedings with â€œâ€¦why have you not recognized us as sovereign people before?…The only positive thing I feel should come out of this conference, if you are going to include us as part of the international family is for you to recognize us, for you to give us recognition. Only with that can we continue to live as completely sovereign peopleâ€¦ We have demonstrated to you how many hundreds of years we have survived. We wish to continue to exist.â€ P 203-204. The international work at the UN grew slowly at first, but by mid 1980s attracted grassroots Indigenous representatives from around the world working towards important initiatives. In 1987, the UN Study of Treaties began, which were investigations on status of treaties and agreements between Indigenous nations and the original colonial powers/national governments the currently claim authority over Indigenous nations because of those treaties began. The study was completed in 1999, and it became a useful tool for Indigenous peoples in the US in their continuing struggles for land restoration and sovereignty. Part of the study found that the US Constitution states in Article VI that â€œall treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the US, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the judges in every state shall be bound therebyâ€ p 205. Through all of this work, a major milestone was reached when the UN General Assembly passed the Declaration of Rights of Indigenous Peoples in 2007. The Declaration is an international instrument used to elevate the rights that â€œconstitute the minimum standards for the survival, dignity and well-being of the indigenous peoples of the world.â€ It also strives to protect the collective rights and the individual rights of Indigenous peoples. Click on the hyperlink provided on this slide if youâ€™d like to check out the entire Declaration.
Slide 9: According to Dunbar-Ortiz, â€œFor generationsâ€¦. Native nations [have] treated the symptoms of colonialismâ€¦ but with the powerful Indigenous self-determination movements of the 2nd half of the 20th century, those nations participated in drafting and instituting new international law that supports their aspirations, and they began working on shoring up their sovereignty through governance. Through this work, US Indigenous peoples have reconceptualized their current forms of government based on new constitutions that reflect their specific culturesâ€ p 215. Before 1934, around 60 Native nations adopted constitutions. Following the IRA/New Deal era that we learned about back in Module 12, particularly in Professor Mayfieldâ€™s lecture, another 130 nations wrote constitutions according to federal guidelines. Following the ending of the termination era led to the rise of the â€œself-determinationâ€ era and the movement to create, revise, rewrite constitutions has seen notable success.
Slide 10: Now letâ€™s shift our focus to examples of reparations, restitution, and healing. Ever since the 1960s, Indigenous nations have demanded restoration of treaty-guaranteed land rather than monetary compensation. Most Native Americans do not use the term â€œreparationsâ€ in reference to land/treaty rights. Instead, they demand restoration, or repatriation (or rematriation) of lands acquired by the US outside valid treaties.
Slide 11: An example of how land claims and treaty rights are most central to Indigenous peoplesâ€™ fight for reparations in the US is demonstrated through the Sioux and the Black Hills, which is the controversial site of Mount Rushmore. The return of the Black Hills was a major demand from the Sioux that started during the 1973 Occupation of Wounded Knee. In 1980, the US Supreme Court ruled that the Black Hills had been taken illegally and that offering price plus interest be paid ($106 million). The Sioux refused the money and continued to demand for a return of the Black Hills. The money has remained in an interest-bearing amount, which by now amounts to over a billion dollars. The Sioux believe that accepting the money would only validate the US theft of their most sacred land. As the author explains on page 208, â€œ[The fact t]hat one of the most impoverished communities in the Americas would refuse a billion dollars demonstrates the relevance and significance of the land to the Sioux, not as an economic resource, but as a relationship between people and place, a profound feature of the resilience of the Indigenous peoples of the Americasâ€¦ The Sioux never wanted the money because the land was never for sale.â€
Slide 12: Another example of strides forward in healing is the â€œBoarding School Healing Projectâ€ which was founded back in 2002 by a coalition of Indigenous groups. Back in Module 11, we learned about the how Boarding Schools attempted to â€œKill the Indian, and Save the Man,â€ the ways that Indigenous children and their families attempted to resist the influences of Boarding Schools, and the intergenerational trauma that Boarding Schools have caused. Research and oral history show that the abuses go beyond individual sufferers, and they cause disruption of Indigenous life at every level. The Boarding School Healing Project is a decolonial project which aims to â€œbreak the silence, [and] begin the healing â€“ working towards truth, healing, and reconciliationâ€ through education and advocacy. Check out the work theyâ€™re currently doing on their website using the hyperlink provided on this slide.
Slide 13: Another important form of reparations is the repatriation of remains of dead ancestors and burial items. The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act of 1990 (NAGPRA) requires museums to return human remains, cultural items, and sacred objects to lineal descendants and culturally affiliated tribes. NAGPRA also established more respectful procedures for excavations. While NAGPRA is an important step forward, the author of our textbook explains that there is still more work to do. Despite the passage of NAGPRA, some researchers/scientists have fought not to release remains of 2 million Indigenous people held in storage in the Smithsonian and other institutions, and Indigenous peoplesâ€™ remains have been labeled as â€œresourcesâ€ or dataâ€ but rarely as â€œhuman remains.â€
Slide 14: Now we will discuss two key terms that the author, Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, brings up in the final two chapters of our textbook. The first is â€œNarratives of Dysfunction.â€ She explains that the mainstream media and books regularly expose/denounce the poverty and social dysfunction found in Indigenous communities â€“ which directly connects back and brings us full circle to the lens we began this class with: â€œThe Danger of a Single Story.â€ However, Dunbar-Ortiz elaborates on page 211 that â€œas well-meaning and accurate as such portrayals are, however, they miss the specific circumstances that reproduce Indigenous poverty and social scarring â€“ namely the colonial conditionâ€¦ Vine Deloria Jr and other Native American activists and scholars have emphasized, there is a direct link between the suppression of Indigenous sovereignty and the powerlessness manifest in depressed social conditionsâ€¦ In continuing to disregard treaty rights and deny restitution of sacred landsâ€¦ the federal government prevents Indigenous communities from performing their most elemental responsibilities as inscribed in their cultural and religious teachings. In other words, sovereignty equates survival.â€
Slide 15: The second key term the author discusses is â€œsurvivance,â€ a term coined by Gerald Vizenor from White Earth Nation. Survivance can be understood as the opposite of â€œNarratives of Dysfunction.â€ Survivance comes from Indigenous narratives, and they are essentially an assertion of active presence â€“ in other words, â€œsurvivance stories are renunciations of dominanceâ€ p 217. With this explanation in mind, can you think of examples of survivance from our course materials?
Slide 16: Throughout the final two chapters of the textbook, we see the Doctrine of Discovery dissolving in light of profound acts of sovereignty. We also see that the Indigenous sovereignty and self-determination movement is not only healing and transforming Indigenous communities and nations, but also the rest of the United States as well, given that the United States respectfully and responsibly comes to terms with its past. As you work through the final chapters for the course, consider the following questions: 1) Exactly how might the Indigenous self-determination and sovereignty movement (from 1975 to present) be transforming the continentâ€™s Indigenous community and nations? 2) How can US society come to terms with its past and acknowledge it responsibly? And lastly, 3) How might this acknowledgement be healing to all people in the US? This concludes our final powerpoint lecture for the semester, and I look forward to hearing your thoughts and connections in our final blog #7 this week.