Monday, April 8, 2013

"Always be proud of who you are and what you are" (Lummi man speaking on April 6, 2013, at an Idle No More gathering )

As I drove towards downtown Bellingham on Saturday morning, I noticed a group of people from the Lummi Nation gathered at the side of the road at the entrance to the Lakeway Holiday Inn where a conference associated with the CERA was taking place.  This morning I found the above video of their brief peaceful protest of the conference.

I did some Google research and found this:

Both the CERA and the CERF are made up of white owners of Indian Reservations lands. The CERF and CERA members are third and fourth generation descendants of the people who profited from acquiring Indian lands.  What alarms them these days is that tribes are re-acquiring some of these lands in order to build an economic base for their people again.  The hate groups can't stand the idea that Indians would get some land back, no matter now it happens.
(from Racism in Indian Country, by Dean Chavers, published in 2009).

It would be worth your time to listen to the voices of some of the Lummi people whose reservation is next to the town of Bellingham, Washington.


Taradharma said...

I am mostly ignorant on the subject, but it seems to me that, if the gov't. broke a treaty, it should mend that treaty and make both the current land-owners and the Indians whole again. Of course, with the number of broken treaties by the US gov't., this could become a very expensive proposition. When a people become completely subjugated by an invader, what are their rights hundreds of years later?

am said...

On this subject I know but little, and I can share here what I understand.

The Indian reservations are sovereign nations within the United States. The reservations have the same problems and imperfections as any nation. It appears to me that each reservation is a microcosm of the United States with its strengths and weakness, times of unity and of warring factions, good judgment and bad judgment and everything in between.

For example, Washington State has a lottery:'s_Lottery

The reservations in Washington State have casinos.

Gambling is a source of revenue for both. Not everyone on the reservations wanted casinos. Not everyone in Washington State wanted a state lottery.

One treaty that has not been broken is that Native people today still have the reservation lands that the U.S. government gave to the Native people who were left after the obliteration of most of their people and culture. The people on the reservations have been given the right to have their own laws and tribal courts.

My understanding is the CERA and CERF
are composed of people, including some Native people , who want to live on reservation lands but resent being under reservation jurisdiction, and that the CERA and CERF work to undermine that jurisdiction.

Undermining that jurisdiction could result in breaking a treaty that has been honored by the U.S. government -- that the Native people still have the land and sovereignty that was given to them by the U.S. government during a time when the United States was vastly less populated, and the Native people had been effectively silenced.

Although the Native people were beaten down, and their numbers diminished to nearly nothing, they were never completely subjugated in the way that would have caused their total demise as a people. Something in them could not be subjugated, and it is something of a miracle they are still here with the same rights to their reservation lands and sovereignty that they were given long ago.

Clearly the issues involved are complicated, entrenched, and not easily resolved. Today the reservations are sovereign nations and no longer silenced.

To learn more about the agenda of the CERA and CERF speakers (Elaine Willman, Lana Marcussen, Butch Cranford, Marlene Dawson, Philip Brendale, Skip Richards and Tom Grey) at the conference in question, just Google some of their names. Given their affiliations, they have no credibility with me.

Listening to the video, we can hear voices of concerned local Native people who are protesting peacefully. Near the end of the video, we can hear people honking their horns from passing cars in support of people from the nearby Lummi Nation.