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The Path Toward A Greater Truth

November is Native American Heritage Month, a month set aside every year, in recent history, with the purpose and intent of recognizing the significant contributions that we, as first Americans, have made to the establishment and growth of the United States. As a proud dual citizen of both the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes and the United States, I acknowledge and support its value. In fact, I celebrate the opportunity for all U.S. citizens to learn about our heritage as the original and free people of Turtle Island; not only from a historical perspective, but equally our story of perseverance, success, and efforts to maintain our inherent sovereign authority and identity despite centuries of efforts by powers seeking to take that away from us for their own gain.

However, every November, I am reminded that the need for such a month is indicative of a more fundamental and systemic problem. A problem resulting from revisionist history, or worse, the complete exclusion of historical fact from the pages of history in order to maintain and promote the notion of exceptionalism and a superior moral compass. Unfortunately, with history most often being depicted through the lenses of the dominant power, it is a depiction that is severely biased and one that is self-serving in its convenient preservation and maintenance of the exceptional narrative.

As a consequence, there exists a glaring absence of appropriate knowledge, awareness, and unabridged history that permeates across all corners and reaches of thought and understanding. As an example, recently posted letters/comments on the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) webpage titled "Native Americans Deserve a New, Free Start” puts on full display the ignorance that continues to exist. Unfortunately, the posted views expressed are not unique and they demonstrate a fundamental disregard, disrespect, and obtuseness regarding Native Americans, our history with the United States, and the sacred agreements that bind us together without expiration.

While having a month for all to recognize and celebrate the heritage of Native Americans should be viewed as positive progress forward, we must aspire and strive for an undertaking that is greater and more comprehensive in its completeness. I look forward to the day where our educational system does a more thorough and adequate job in teaching about Tribal Nation-U.S relations from both a historical and present day perspective. I look forward to the day where tolerance of negative imagery and stereotypes about Native Americans is no longer acceptable. I look forward to the day where our Native American children aren’t exposed to thoughts and beliefs that rob them of their pride and dignity. I look forward to the day where honoring our treaties and complete fulfillment of the federal trust obligations are no longer a discretionary choice. I look forward to the day where advocating and fighting for justice for Native peoples and communities will no longer be necessary.

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As pro-tribal voices often recite, there is a special Tribal Nation-U.S. relationship that exists singularly in its uniqueness. It is a relationship that resulted from a shared experience and one that exists for reasons that contrast with the “conquered people” mentality conveyed on the WSJ letters/comments page. Tribal Nations and the United States are bound by our shared.

experience and we are morally obligated to arrive at a point where our shared history is honest and respectful in its portrayal.

Change can often be hard. Change of any real magnitude may sometimes seem insurmountable. However, each one of us has the power to make a positive difference in the world that we reside in as relatives. Collectively, we must no longer passively accept an incomplete narrative that fails to achieve truth and honesty. The epidemic of ignorance that is occurring, for which far too many are indifferent and tolerant, must be challenged and reversed. Reversing this epidemic is the responsibility of every citizen of this nation. We must constantly remind ourselves that a nation is only at its greatest when it discards long held false truths in order to acknowledge and accept its transgressions and misdeeds...it is the only path toward healing, reconciliation, mutual respect, and understanding.

Kitcki A. Carroll is a citizen of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Nation and serves as the Executive Director for United South and Eastern Tribes, Inc. (USET). As part of his advocacy, Mr. Carroll is dedicated to protecting and promoting the inherent sovereign authority and rights of Tribal Nations as well as working to ensure that the United States fulfills its trust responsibilities and obligations to Indian Country.