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Let us define tribal sovereignty

The Congressional Black Caucus ought to be ashamed. As a Native American woman, I am appalled at the sheer audacity of the freedmen, and the African American congressional members that seek to untie our grasp of tribal sovereignty.

The main media outlets fail to report the shift and struggle between Native peoples and everyone else, because society does not undertake the situation as necessary.

What rightfully needs to be said is that the freedmen were slaves, who out of kindness and dignity were protected by sovereign nations, with authority to protect those individuals. That clarity, that conscious decision in the 1800s does not equal indigenous blood now, or ever. When you attack tribal sovereignty, you are ripping the bare thread seams of what is left over from colonization.

We, as Native people must make clear cut decisions to protect our future. This is not about freedmen being descendants of slaves, this is about Native children being descendants of us. Tribal enrollment is not a privilege guaranteed to all, it is not about justice or civil rights. Tribal enrollment is the modern day stretch of ancient civilization, protocol and responsibility. It is sadly ironic that once again, by way of our virtue, we are assaulted by the very ones we sought to aid.

Each indigenous person, whether for outright indignation or solely justified for thought of our children should at least spend a little thinking time on the potential this situation could bring about. Because we choose to stay unified via our own particular tribal communities and not en masse, our voices are at most a collective whisper. We must speak clearly, with resounding effect. Tribal sovereignty has a beginning they do not know, nor will its potency be understood by most. If we do not define it, they will define it. And it means too much; it just means too much.

– Mona Bandstra

Cheraw/Lumbee

Norfolk, Va.