You are visiting a Virtual Museum that honors all
Native American cultures and traditions

Location: The Internet

contemporary

 

 

The Museum's mission is to advance and share the experience and knowledge of what has happened in the past and what this has meant for Native peoples today; to preserve the memory of those who died or suffered; to offer comfort, support, encouragement and understanding; and to encourage its visitors to reflect upon the need for dignity of and respect among all peoples.

You are invited to explore this Virtual Museum at your leisure and visit us frequently.


Personal Testimonies by Yagniza:

Introduction   Career_Day   Contemporary_Native_American_Issues    Cultural_Racism   My_Journey    The_Amphitheater   The_Designer   The_Sacred_Trust   Notes_on_Navajo History   Racism_Institute    Spanish_Poetry   El_Cuartocentenario   El_Inca_ Garcilaso_de_la_Vega    The_Best_Is_Yet_To_Come

 

Page Contents:

Who is Indian? | What Does the Designation Native American Mean? | Population | Land Use | Treaty Rights | Federal Policies | Significant Legislation | Jurisdiction Issues | Boarding/Residential School Experience | Pow-Wows | Sports Mascots | Languages | Need for Trained Business and Science Native American Professionals | Per Capita Payments | Native American Church

 

WHO IS INDIAN?

There are numerous federally recognized Indian tribes, pueblos or communities. There are many additional unrecognized tribes. An Indian is a member of such a group. Membership is determined by the Indian governing entity. For example, to be legally recognized and enrolled as a Navajo, one must be one-fourth Navajo. Adoption does not count. For the Cherokees of Oklahoma, proof of descent from someone listed on the 1906 tribal roll is all that is required, no matter how small the percentage of ethnicity may be. For certain pueblos, maternal descent is required.

Federal definitions have included Alaskan natives under the term Indian. At times, it refers to the lower 48 states and at other times includes Alaskan natives (Indian, Inuit and Aleut).

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WHAT DOES THE DESIGNATION NATIVE AMERICAN MEAN

A person who is of a tribe or people indigenous to the United States. It is most frequently applied to American Indians in the lower 48 states. The federal government includes Native Alaskans, Native Hawaiians, Native American Pacific Islanders (Samoans, Chamorros from Guam, indigenous peoples of the Marianas and Palau.)

Problem in that many native born Americans that are not American Indian believe it is a misnomer. Indian Country Today, largest Indian advocacy newspaper uses American Indian, Indian and Native American with preference given to tribal affiliation.

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POPULATION

2.5 million. Less than 1% of the total U.S. population. Increasing. More than half of Indians live off reservations.

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LAND USE

Land is held in trust by the federal government for the benefit of the particular Tribe. It may not be sold or otherwise transferred without the approval of the Tribe, Pueblo or community and the federal government. Most land is located within federally designated reservations or pueblos, although some tribes have purchased land with tribal funds that lie outside of federally designated reservations or pueblos and then sought to have such land placed in trust. Families live within areas that have been traditionally inhabited by them. Some land is held by individual families as a result of the General Allotment Act of 1897 which conveyed 360 acre grants to individual families to encourage farming.

Due to the large loss of land as a result of the Allotment Act, it was repealed in 1934 by the Indian Reorganization Act. Under the Allotment Act individuals could freely sell their land which resulted in a loss of 90 million acres of the previously designated 150 million acres of Indian land. No further individual allotments were granted after that time and those allotments previously granted were designated as trust lands and may not be sold or otherwise transferred without approval of the federal government.

The tribe or pueblo may use its natural resources for the benefit of the group. These include timber, oil, gas, coal, uranium, water, land, wildlife and fish.

Mineral resource development requires oversight and approval by the federal government. Tribes or pueblos are also using their land for commercial uses such as retail shopping, hotel and restaurant management, gaming and tourism. Tribal community colleges dating from 1968 also exist. Social services are also provided, such as hospitals, schools, tribal government agencies for health, education and welfare, etc. Over 160 tribes are involved in gaming.

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TREATY RIGHTS

Treaties are agreements between the federal government and tribes or pueblos. Under the U. S. Constitution, treaties may only be entered into by the President with the advice and consent of 2/3 of the Senate and they are binding on states and others as the 'supreme law of the land.' (Article II, Sec. 2, Cl. 2, U.S. Constitution.) Initially started in 1778 to provide for the transfer of land by Indians to the U.S. on a government to government basis. The federal government recognized the specific prior right of ownership of land by various Indian groups. This policy recognized the sovereignty of Indian tribes and pueblos. Three hundred seventy treaties have been entered into. The last such treaty was in 1868 with the Nez Perce. The right of the federal government to enter into treaties with Indian governments was abolished by statute in 1871. Indian tribes may enter into treaties with each other.

From 1871-1913, agreements requiring Senate and House ratification were the means used, rather than treaties (98 were entered into, 96 ratified by Congress). After that time, legislation is the formal action taken to deal with Indian issues. Settlement agreements may be entered into to resolve tribal land claims, water rights, resolution of conflicts between Indians and non-Indians, and other issues related to tribal self-determination.

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FEDERAL POLICIES

Problem today - Senator Inouye: "You could talk to ten people and I suppose they'd give you ten policies."

Major issue - Should Indian tribes be allowed to govern themselves as domestic nations within the United States or should they be absorbed into the mainstream of American society. 1800's Removal. 1860-1880 Reservations and war. 1880-1930 Assimilation and allotment. 1880-1931 Everything Indian came under attack - feasts, languages, certain marriage practices, dances and any practices by medicine or religious persons were all banned by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. 1930-1945 Restoration of tribal self-government. 1945-1960 Termination of tribal status and relocation of people to cities. 61 tribes terminated. 1960's Indian self-determination. 1970's Termination repudiated by President Nixon. 1980's Tribal self-determination but federal funding decreased by 40%. 1990's New federalism. Government to government relationship.

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SIGNIFICANT LEGISLATION

General Allotment Act of 1887 1924 Indian Citizenship Act Indian New Deal in 1930's: Indian Reorganization Act, Johnson O'Malley Act, Indian Arts and Crafts Board 1968 Indian Civil Rights Act 1975 Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act allowed participating tribes to control their own housing, education, law enforcement, social service, health, and community development programs 1978 Indian Child Welfare Act - many adoption and guardianship cases were to handled by tribal courts with preference to Indians over non-Indians 1978 American Indian Religious Freedom Congressional Resolution 1988 Indian Gaming Regulatory Act 1988 Tribally Controlled Schools Act (repudiated termination) 1990 Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act 2013 Violence Against Women Act Reauthorized

Right to vote which goes with citizenship was not automatically granted to Indians.
Arizona (1948),
Maine (1954),
Utah (1956) and
New Mexico (1962) were the last states to grant the right to vote pursuant to court order. Indians constitute 9% of New Mexico's state population.

Other - 1987- religious leaders from Lutheran, Catholic, Baptist, Presbyterian, Episcopal, Methodist United Church of Christ and N.W. Regional Christian Church issued a letter of apology to Indian and Eskimo peoples of the Pacific Northwest for their longstanding participation in the destruction of traditional Native American spiritual practices and for the rampant racism and prejudice of the dominant culture with which they too willingly identified. This has been done in other areas of the country as well.

Canadian government issued a formal apology to Canadian Natives for its past practices and policies, including forced sterilization.

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JURISDICTION ISSUES

Problem between tribal law, federal law, state law and local law (county or city). There is no general formula. Of critical concern to tribes are state efforts to tax revenue generated on- reservation as a result of businesses or tribal natural resource development. Also of concern is jurisdiction based on whether the land is in trust status or not whether within or without the original reservation boundaries.

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BOARDING/RESIDENTIAL SCHOOL EXPERIENCE

Started in 1860 and continues today in Alaska and in Southwest where students attend local public schools and are housed in off-reservation dormitories. Intergenerational effects substantial. See In the White Man's Image documentary and Healing the Hurts.

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POW-WOWS

Celebratory gatherings with tribal or intertribal dancing, rodeos, fairs or similar gatherings. Important to Indian solidarity, spirituality, cultural identity and exchange of socio-political information.

Gathering Nations held annually in Albuquerque, New Mexico in April is one of the largest pow- wows.

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SPORTS MASCOTS

Opposed by many but not all.

Concerns:
1. Racism
2. Stereotypical and disrespectful antics by fans and players
3. Inappropriate use of items like pipes, body paint designs, and feathers, all of which are considered sacred in traditional Native American cultures.

Tom Giago, Oglala Lakota and publisher of Indian Country Today: "The sham rituals, such as the wearing of feathers, smoking of so-called peace pipes, beating of tom-toms, fake dances, horrendous attempts at singing Indian songs, the so-called war whoops, and the painted faces, address more than the issues of racism. They are direct attacks upon the spirituality (religion) of the Indian people."

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LANGUAGES

More than 100. Native American Languages Act of 1990 passed to preserve, protect and promote the rights and freedoms of Native Americans to use, practice and develop Native American languages.

In 1992, President Bush earmarked funding for this effort.

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NEED FOR TRAINED BUSINESS AND SCIENCE NATIVE AMERICAN PROFESSIONALS

Need for Trained Business and Science Native American Professionals The Abramoff scandal is only one indicator of this need.

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PER CAPITA PAYMENTS

Per capita payments accrue from earnings on assets held by a tribe. Payments based on these
earnings are made to individual tribal members. The amount per individual varies by tribe. The
role of per capita payments over time engendering dependency similar to the role of welfare in
creating dependency is a matter of concern. It is uncertain whether per capita payments are
leading to a reduction in employment by tribal members who instead rely on their per capita
payments for income; a reduction in young adults pursuing higher education; and, an increase in
addiction. Also, there is serious concern that there will be inadequate funding to sustain the tribe
as a governing body if sufficient funding is not set aside for the long-term benefit of the tribe.

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NATIVE AMERICAN CHURCH

250,000 members from more than 50 tribes.

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