Sovereingty, what is it?
The Two Row Wampum belt is the symbolic record of the first agreement between Europeans and American Indian Nations
By Thomas McElwain
There is no Mingo (Notowega) political entity, nor has there been one since Chief Logan ratified the traditional Mingo position not only against the Iroquois League, but against all representative government. Mingos (Notowegas) still maintain self-control and neighborly co-operation as the only acceptable form of government. That has not prevented some descendants from running for public office, however.
What follows is not based on fieldwork as such, but on what I remember of family tradition. From the Mingo point of view, the indigenous peoples have the right of sovereign self-government. Mingos have historically chosen the path of community self-definition without representation within the framework of indigenous houses on the continent. This means that Mingos do not recognize the authority of non-indigenous agencies, although in practice they might either take advantage of them or submit to their regulations. Such submission does not imply any more recognition of their jurisdiction than giving over one's wallet to a mugger implies acceptance of mugger authority.
Both the United States and Canada are no more than guest worker unions with no jurisdiction over Mingos. The fact that guests have been on the continent for several generations does not imply that they are no longer guests. The fact that such guests, who are for the most part welcome in the country, have a tradition of behaving badly does not imply a conquest either. If they were truly the extension of the Roman empire their constituents would be able to pronounce E pluribus unum. They have the possibility of adoption or "naturalization" into the eastern woodland peoples just as people can be naturalized into legitimate nations such as Finland or Denmark. If they have chosen to remain guests over many generations, they are free to so choose, but they are not free to set up government on earth where a viable society has been in place continually for hundreds of years. Such pretension is merely bad behavior in guests.
WHO'S SOVEREIGN? By Janet Mc Cloud - December 1, 1980
Sovereignty is a word we hear often in today's Indian society, but what does sovereignty mean? There seems to be as many definitions as there are dictionaries. The US Government claims to be the "supreme sovereign power" of this land. Traditional Native leaders fight on an international level for recognition of the sovereignty of the Red Nations. Corrupted tribal leaders run for protection under the "cloak of their sovereign powers" whenever they are charged with authoritarian abuses, etc., etc., etc...... There is much to learn about the issue of sovereignty, it's uses and abuses, and I throw in my opinion for whatever it's worth, maybe it will stimulate thought.
The "original sovereignty" of the Western Hemisphere belonged to the original indigenous inhabitants, for they were the recognized and acknowledged original owners of all the land and all the original rights and powers of this land, under the international laws such as they were.
Now there were sovereigns and sovereigns in the Old World. There were imperial sovereigns, exercised by the emperors, this was political sovereignty, absolute power without limits; it was obtained by conquest, force, often without the consent of the people, at a time when there was no written laws, only common laws.
Persia was said to be the first nation to institute legal sovereignty, which superseded the unwritten laws and political sovereignty; which stated that the emperor was a subject of the law too and placed limits upon imperial sovereign powers.
Royal Sovereignty or Absolute Sovereignty
Royal sovereignty is that exercised by monarchs, such as the royalty of the European nations, who at the time of their discovery of our land, believed that they had the absolute sovereignty over the whole world, the "divine right to rule doctrine" and they did their best to try to force their sovereignty over one another, using military force, or " might makes right". These royal sovereigns declared ownership of our land by the "so called" right of discovery. They used proprietary and charter contracts to their subjects to set up colonies on our homelands. These immigrants remained subjects of the royal sovereigns and royal jurisdiction.
At first the colonists were welcomed by our ancestors and were helped to survive, but their patience wore thin, as the colonists grew independent of the goodwill of the natives and began to be pushy and arrogant, claiming their kings owned this land, ad nausea. Soon conflicts broke out between the squatters from Europe and the true owners of the land. Peace Treaties were entered into and before the ink was dry, they were violated by the squatters. Soon they both did their best to avoid one another. (The Quakers were the only exception to the general rule, they never violated a treaty agreement with the Native sovereigns.)
Colonial Independence & Acquired Sovereignty
When in the course of events the colonists begin to struggle for independence from their royal sovereign rulers, who were guilty of demanding too big share of the "royalties" from the plunder of our homelands, these colonists had to "acquire" sovereignty.
The colonists "acquired" their sovereignty, or the right of self-government by entering into treaty agreements with the holders and owners of the "original sovereignty", the Native Indigenous Nations. This is why the "supremacy clause" of the US constitution states that all treaties made or which shall be made are the supreme law of the land. This is how the US government "acquired" their sovereignty of self-government. This acquired sovereignty is limited because it is not "original" sovereignty, it is sovereignty acquired by a government with a government.
"Original sovereignty" is inherent in the indigenous original owners and possessors of this hemisphere. "Original sovereignty" and "original rights" were given to us by the Creator, the True Sovereign, which is why they are inherent in the Red Race of People. These rights are not acquired by man-made law but came from the Spiritual Authority of The Creator of The Natural Universe and Natural Worlds. This is the "Supreme Authority". The revolting colonists had to recognize the original indigenous inhabitants of this land. Why else would they enter into Treaties with them.
Black's law dictionary states on page 1673
TREATY. International Law: A compact made between two or more independent nations... An agreement, league, or contract between two or more nations or sovereigns...
Now, it's general knowledge, well documented in many history books, that the colonists were devious and manipulative, they had little intention of honoring their agreements and their motivations were to acquire the support of Native Nations against Britain and to acquire sovereignty of self-government. The historical and contemporary facts speak for themselves.
Now comes the most tricky machination of all....
How did it happen? How did the Indian Nations lose Sovereignty?
How did the newly established US government which acquired their sovereignty of "self government" from the treaties made with the Original Sovereign Independent Native Nations, seize our liberties and place Indian Nations into political bondage and today hold the indigenous peoples of the Red Race as political prisoners .... ???????
Through deception - they got our unlettered (Not Unintelligent) ancestors to sign the land contracts (treaties) extinguishing title and rights to the land except those reserved. (Read a Warning Message for more Details)
Under section 8 of the US constitution the US usurped the "external sovereignty" of Indian Nations-to regulate commerce with ..... the Indian Tribes.." Under international law a nation CANNOT enter into treaty agreements with a tribe. Treaties can only be made between two independent Nations. Where did we give up our freedom as a free Independent nation and people??? Would our ancestors knowingly sign any document that would place them in bondage??? Hogwash. We've been mis-educated by the unwanted dispossessed populace of Europe into believing we've lost out "original sovereignty" and "original rights".
Not Honoring Commitments
The US government honored their treaty commitments with our ancestors as long as they were a superior force and outnumbered the colonists, then the US began to exercise imperial sovereignty, the use of deadly force, military might. They provoked unjust wars and claimed victory over our land and people by conquest. And they were cowards and never got into a conflict except by deception, claiming they wanted peace councils or by destroying villages of elders women, and children while the warriors were off hunting. ad nausea.
Imperialism or the exercise of imperial sovereignty or power, is defined as
"The Policy of extending a nation's authority by territorial acquisition or by the establishment of economic and political hegemony over other nations" American Heritage Dictionary p.660
External political sovereignty is the jurisdiction of a free independent nation over its foreign affairs, the right to trade with foreign nations. The newly formed U. S Government extended their acquired sovereignty of self rule to sole ruler over this land with the use of superior military powers. They forced France, Spain, and Russia to sell them their trade agreements with the Indian Nations, tying the noose tighter and tighter around the necks of Indian Nations, who were now left with no allies to help them retain their independence and sovereignty. The Louisiana Purchase, the Alaskan agreement between the US and Russia, was buying the rights to trade and barter with the Indian Nations including land, goods, etc. Spain held out the longest and they demanded respect for the original sovereign rights of the indigenous inhabitants.
When all the "might be" allies were driven from this land, the Indian Nations were at the mercy of the rapacious greedy US Nation which lost no time putting Indian Nations into servitude. (We take our definition of servitude from the "Dictionary of American Politics which defines servitude as "a restriction upon ownership or sovereignty".)
Misrepresent the Facts
Listen to the next lie (once again using the definitions recorded in the Dictionary of American Politics on page 191)
"INDIAN NATIONS- A separate and distinct body of Indians. Though such nations were never recognized as having sovereignty, but were declared to be "Domestic dependent nations"... The national government has sole power to regulate commerce with them and exercises guardianship over their economic activities."
Who died and made them our god with supreme and absolute authority and jurisdiction over us?????
The Puritans who supposedly came here seeking freedom, or so they tell us in history classes, declared with self righteousness, that Indians were not human beings, neither were they animals but creatures created by the devil whom god wanted exterminated, and they did their best to wipe us out. The Puritan leaders put a bounty on the heads of dead Indians, forcing many fur trappers to bleach their hair red. When the heads got too many to pack around, they said the scalps would do. This gave birth to an American unwritten law known as the 'menagerie theory of law' that robbed the Natives of their status as human beings and it is still in full force and effect.
What kind of freedom did those self-righteous people want?? We see what kind they exercised - they massacred our ancestors, raped and plundered with immunity of law and decency. They made their tyrants in Europe look like saints...to deny us the status of human beings deprived us of the right as original owners of this land, therefore they did not need our consent to squat, occupy, and possess our homelands, nor did they need to make just compensation.
The colonists were people in bondage, slaves of their royal sovereign rulers. I guess they needed someone else to kick around. Most of them were probably mentally unbalanced from their oppression.
FRAUD is defined in Black's Law Dictionary as "an intentional perversion of the truth for the purpose of inducing another in reliance upon it to part with some valuable thing belonging to him or to surrender a legal right." A free person is his own master, a slave has another person as his master. The US government assumed, or seized, or usurped, our authority to live as free independent Nations and peoples, by deliberate fraud, deceit and informal procedures through their legislative body, the Congress, who only acquired sovereignty of self-government, and through their courts, who have constantly refused to address the issue of fraud and unlawful jurisdiction over the original sovereign rights and powers of self government and external and internal sovereign powers of Indian Nations to make alliances with other Nations for protection from US imperialistic military powers, or for the purposes of free trade. The US is still not a signatory to the United Nations Universal Declaration against Genocide.
The US has also robbed us of our National identity as we have no nationality today except the one IMPOSED upon us by the US government without our informed knowledge or consent....
Modern Legal Maneuvers
The 1924 Citizenship Act (supposedly) made all Indians citizens of the U, S...... what insanity! How can a people who recently established self-government and acquired their legal sovereignty from the Indigenous Nations, usurp our sovereignty and the right to be our own master and make us lackeys of independent colonies of Europe? How can we as Indigenous peoples who have existing valid treaties with the US government (that gives that government their rights) become a citizen and part of a government which has a treaty with themselves?
Did our ancestors give the colonist unlimited rights and power over our persons to utterly destroy us and our sacred lands???
Indian Reorganization Act or Protective Custody vs. Internal Political Sovereignty Tribal governments under the 1934 Indian Reorganization Act are not sovereign. First the US reduced us from an independent nation into a domestic dependent nation into a tribe, then into a federal agency, where our elected leadership acts as federal agents to legalize the exploitation and plunder the remaining lands and rights of our people. This is the final destruction to extinguish our internal sovereignty.
Internal political sovereignty is the right of self government and the right to manage the internal affairs within the national boundaries within our Nations. the right of free trade and taxation within our national boundaries, the right to freely elect and select or reject our leadership without outside interference. the freedom of decision-making (without the approval of the US secretary of the Interior, who is the military authority over all Indian reserved land base), the right to determine our own destiny, the right to worship the creator in our traditional ways (which today exists as a reward or penalty in state and federal institutions, is if you're a good "spiritually dead" Indian you are rewarded by being allowed to have a pow wow, to smoke the pipe or take a sweat. If you're bad "spiritually alive" Indian you are punished and not allowed ritualistic religious freedom).
We are told by the US government that the reason we are in the protective custody of the US is because we are unable to manage our own affairs and that the US is merely looking out for our best interests. (How did we survive for thousands of years before 1492?) Unfortunately today that assertion may well be true. After the US messed with our minds for two hundred years, we have all the negative symptoms of oppressed people. We our truly our worst enemy. I've witnessed and been victim of authoritarian abuses of the I.R.A (Indian Reorganization Act) Tribal leadership evoke sovereign immunity for the most outrageous acts. These tribal leaders, at their best are nevertheless, under the I.R.A. system, agents of a foreign government, the US. Still they serve to legitimize the plunder of remaining Indian lands and the extinguishment of the original rights, which include fishing and hunting rights for the artificial substitution of licensed privileges - thereby rubbing out another unextinguished sovereignty, or original right of the indigenous inhabitants.
Tribal Abuses Support Situation
The sole purpose of the US Government's Bureau of Indian Affairs is to extinguish the original titles to the land and the original rights of Native people. And the tribal agencies were set up to induce Indian leaders to legitimize the thefts, and they do it.
Here are a few of the sovereign immunities tribal leaders are seeking protection for:
Control the Land
Under the internal sovereignty of the tribal (nation) misusing the trade and tax jurisdictions, an elite few will place their lands in trust. The US government to keep Indians in bondage holds the title in trust until the Indian extinguishes original title for a fee patent, where you lease your lands from the U. S. government-- for the US Government was the one who granted land in the treaties made with the Indians, they allow the US Citizens the privilege of using, occupying and improving the land, and the citizens make their lease payments (only it is called property tax) and set up so-called private free enterprise businesses, where they sell illicit merchandise, tobacco, liquor, or gambling casinos.
This is their interpretation of sovereignty or original rights- profiteering. They lease the sacred lands to corporations, exercising royal sovereignty, which is where the term royalties came from.
One small NW tribe with a couple hundred members misrepresents itself as a community council looking out for the health, education, welfare of all the Indians in a county in Washington State. They apply for housing funds, home improvement funds, education, health including dental care, and welfare funds. (More program moneys can be obtained if you claim to represent the interests of a thousand people rather than few hundred.) But what happens once they receive the money - they invoke their 'sovereign rights" and use the money received as the private treasury of their tribe. Their slogan is 'Tribal members only....Tribal members first' The real needy are in worse shape than before.
The SETA program which gives the tribes funds to hire and train the uneducated unskilled and misused; the family members of the community council are hired first, then skilled non-Indians then tribal members and the community people who really need this opportunity for training remain on state welfare roles.
Poor Health Care
Indian children form the larger Indian community, whose real needs assures successful funding, go to bed at night crying because their teeth ache- they can't get in to see the dentists because the tribal council or their families are having gold or silver plates put on their teeth.
HUD housing, the federal program to build new homes for indigent Indian families is also abused, all under sovereign privileges. Single tribal members who are employed with an average middle-class income, hardly indigent are the first to get new homes, while large community families are forced to spend half their income on high rent. One single person who lived back east for all his life came back with an adopted child and requested an HUD home and promptly got it as his family was the ruling sovereigns; as soon as he received his home he shipped the child back east. This type of sovereignty is more like the old imperial leaders who are unjust and abusive of their own people and who have no sovereign powers only authoritarian powers.
On the other hand
Of course not all, tribal officials, act in such abusive ways. Many are dedicated leaders and, regardless of the oppressive system that places obstacles in their paths, try to help uplift their people.And it goes without saying that all Americans are not guilty of wrongdoing in the unequal relationship that exists between American rulers and Indian Nations. Many Americans are just as exploited and oppressed as the indigenous inhabitants.
What does it mean to me?
Original sovereignty means to me the right to walk this path of life as a free independent human being; to be as self sufficient as possible in today's world; to be educated in a way that enhances my inherent intelligence rather than destroy it, so that I am capable of making decisions about my own life.