I am writing today because I believe my people are being horribly misused in other tribes' attempts at federal recognition. Normally, I would applaud their efforts; I know the difficulty facing our various tribes in matters concerning federal funding programs for health care, education and cultural survival. I understand the need for federal recognition as the idea of ''real Indians'' plagues the entire Native American social sphere.
H.R. 1294, the Thomasina E. Jordan Indian Tribes of Virginia Federal Recognition Act of 2007, and H.R. 65, the Lumbee Recognition Act, would effectively shut off recognition for many descendants of these people. The recognition process is not designed to be effective in a just or fair way. The Saponi people deserve recognition. Our people were scattered out into America, fought for American independence, and have endured fear and oppression from all quarters - including other American Indians.
The process that is in place for federal acknowledgment divides families and creates an atmosphere of virulent competition among and between American Indian communities. The Indian Arts and Crafts Act of 1990 is unjust and a travesty to the American Indian community because it limits the ability of communities to legitimately raise funds to do the required research and compilation of all the documents needed to even begin a recognition process.
Our hands are effectively tied and our mouths symbolically gagged, taking our voice from us. Many descendants do not have the means whereby we can take on the recognition process or, for that matter, lobby Congress for redress of our situation. We don't have access to the process in question. Several states do not even have a Commission on Indian Affairs like Texas and Ohio. Our ancestors deserve better. The story of Native America does not end with the federally recognized tribes.
Percentiles of American Indian blood are also not an aid in the process. Certificate of Degree of Indian Blood is not an adequate process because it is not logical scientifically and it does not serve the community it was meant to serve. It discriminates against mixed-blood Indians.
Please help our people. Give our ancestors and ourselves a voice. Help us to maintain our dignity and heritage. Help us end the competition between Native communities. Help us to finally see justice for our various people. The fate of the Saponi people and the rest of the Southeastern Siouans are in your hands.
- Scott Preston Collins
Saponi Descendants AssociationMansfield, Texas