At the source of every Indian country controversy is American-style politics, internal politics or fighting against the colonizer. Indian country has yet to learn that it doesn’t have to be this way.
American-style politics in Indian country is one of the unfortunate consequences of being a colonized people – of being robbed of traditional thinking and practices while being indoctrinated to accept without question the thinking, methods and terminology of the colonizer.
Indian country needs to step back, question and examine the methods of the colonizer and ask: Do American-style politics really work? Examine the American political scene closely. It is divisive, deceptive, corrupting and destructive. It has replaced any semblance of moral substance for character assassination, vicious attacks on opponents, cheap and easy patriotism, Nielsen ratings and the latest poll result. Why not just put political candidates on “American Idol” and have the public phone in. American politics amounts to the same thing.
Whether the issue is politics or any area of American popular culture the real measure and goal is who or what can best make you feel warm and fuzzy in the quickest, cheapest way possible, and then claim your prize. The key point that Indian country has yet to get is that this is the core of American politics. It is not a sanctified, highest standard but rather it is simply the heart of conquest – lies, deception, corruption and in the end, destruction of others and self.
The question for Indian country is: Does it really want these values to govern our thinking, our reality on any issue?
At this point in our modern history, Indian country seems to have forgotten or overlooks that American values have never been our values. Despite more than 500 years of colonial indoctrination in every possible form, we know in our hearts that we remain “Indians” and always will – even if forced to articulate it in the terms of the conqueror. We know deep inside that we will never be “Americans” as the colonizers’ descendants and those who identify with them see themselves – and that is a good thing that must be claimed and owned for all its possibilities.
Contemporary realities require Indian country to know both the superficial characteristics and ugly underbelly of American-style politics – past and present – and “play the game” as necessary. Yet it is up to each Indian nation, and each individual to seek out, reclaim, restore, re-establish and maintain traditional balance in how we govern ourselves as individuals and our nations – a balance that at its core has no need for American-style politics – never has. Only then can Indian country truly start to regain individual and tribal sovereignty that matters not just for ourselves, but for future generations, and perhaps even for the conquerors.
– Michael McLaughlin