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An emotional revolution of self-governance can succeed

The most important aspect of sovereignty to our Native Peoples is the protection it will provide our children, the security it will provide our future.

Sovereignty is a ship crossing the ocean of time. If we fail in the maintenance of this ship, it will sink into this ocean. When this happens, our children will be left helplessly drifting without a course on their individual life rafts.

This will become an era of division for our tribes. We will no longer exist as a individual nations but become swallowed up by the mainstream waters of Western civilization. It will herald the extinction of our cultures.

The future of our tribes rests in all our hands. We, as parents, are the caretakers of our future and our sovereignty. If we fail in the protection of our independence, we will fail in the eyes of our children.

I can see that our right to independence has been and is being misused and neglected. Corruption, political and domestic, within our own governing systems is destroying the future.

What will it take to convince those tribal members, who would destroy themselves, that to be greedy or lustful for land and power that belongs to the children will end the luxuries of the sovereignty we do have?

I drive through our reservations today and see nothing but poverty. The minds of our people can be seen scattered across Grandmother Earth, littering the landscape for all to see.

Poverty has a weapon in drunkenness, used to bring down the heart of nations, including ours. We have fought for years to defeat our internal sicknesses that lurks in the intoxicated consciousness of our people. But, instead of looking toward our culture for help, we turned our back on this cure.

As one elder told me, "The traditions hold the cure for all sickness that affect the tribe. It can even cure poverty and drunkenness"

This is true and I believe it fully. When we come back to the culture we will find the spirit we lost. A spiritual exodus to our sacred ways of life will bring forth an emotional revolution. Today we see our people with their heads hanging down all the time, defeated, many lack confidence. It is this confidence that we need to build up.

When we can be proud of who we are, our community and especially our children, we can bring our people out of poverty. When we can be a voice to those future generations who have none, then we can ensure the survival of our race.

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Our tribes were forced into the way we govern ourselves today. When we began in 1934, no one knew how to run the tribes and since then no one was ever taught how to run our tribal resources without corruption

This is why we need to begin the cleansing of our political filth that thickens the hallways of our tribal governments.

We can make commitments to our altars of individualism and we can divide under the tree of extended family but the binding glue that still connects us all is the land and the sacred Pipe.

A tribe that does not respect the land is like a human without remorse. In the world today, the animals and Indigenous peoples are becoming invisible to the eyes of humanity. As one small soul who is indigenous to this land, I can only express to you that if we truly want to become strong and progressive as individual nations, then we must all be on the same course. We all must see our individual sovereign nations as belonging to the children of the future.

If they are healthy, then we become stronger with every generation and when we become stronger so does our political and cultural voice.

The next time you walk into your tribal building take a good look around and listen to the way our people fight amongst each other. Look at how the leaders gloat over the pot of resources that belong to our future. Witness the eventual destruction of your tribe by the hand of our own brothers and sisters.

But, remember that the solution to our problems is embracing the culture and only our culture. When you have learned about the sacred Pipe, or whatever is held sacred in your tribal traditions, you can teach this to your children. When they grow, they will have inside their minds a seed planted by your hand, the seed of morality and honesty.

They will become the caretakers of our future and they will maintain the sovereign ship upon which we float.

Our traditions have laws and customs that ensure the safety of all tribal members from each other. Long ago we did not live amongst other races so our laws were in place to govern and keep peace amongst our families. These laws are the backbone of our tribes and they come from the teachings of our great cultures.

They hold the identity of our peoples which have been clouded today by the influences of Christianity and American policy, and when we embrace those traditions poverty and corruption will slowly fade away in the minds of our people.

"When one understands that he causes some of his own suffering, needlessly, then he looks for the causes in his own life. And when he looks for those causes, when he investigates, then he is putting confidence in his own ability to eliminate the sources and end the suffering. A wish to find a path to peace arises. For all beings desire happiness. All wish to find their purest selves." (Tibetan Scripture)

Editor's note: Opinions expressed are not necessarily those of Standing Stone Media Inc., publishers of Indian Country Today.