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Citizens, not members

I have a request to make.

Your newspaper is very influential in Indian country. The words that you use, and that we all use, really matter in delivering messages and in influencing people and decision makers.

I ask that your paper, and all Indian people and nations, consider using the word “citizen” when describing ourselves and in describing and talking about tribal peoples instead of using the word “member.”

As Indians know, being an enrolled citizen of a tribal government is a political issue and we need to reflect that principle in the language and the words we use. We are not members of private organizations like the Elks club or the PTA, for example.

Instead, Indians are citizens of political bodies and sovereign nations. We should use the words “citizen” and “citizenship” when talking about tribal governments and their people.

– Professor Robert J. Miller

Eastern Shawnee

Lewis & Clark Law School

Portland, Ore.