The United States is truly unique among the nations of the world. It is not a union of different countries, like the European Union, nor is it a single country with one absolute law for every citizen in it; rather, it is more like a country of countries, a nation of nations: of peoples, of cultures, subcultures, laws that were established both by word of mouth untold centuries ago, and those that were only drawn up yesterday.
It has a centralized federal government tasked with seeing to the needs and safety of every citizen, yes, but it is comprised of fifty much smaller “state” governments, that do not infrequently end up standing at odds with the federal. Theoretically, someone at the top of the federal government, like the president of the United States (the very top) can make something illegal all over the country, but in practice, this is easier said than done, since the local governments of the states may end up allowing whatever it is through some loophole, or even outright defiance of the mandate.
The state of Illinois almost refused to turn back its clocks for daylight savings time, despite that this was the normative, federally legislated practice for the entire country. In the end, due to only slight “pressure” from the feds (being that they would not be eligible for much assistance in the coming year) the state voted against the bill that would allow the clocks to remain how they are all year round, but such an outcome would most certainly have been possible without anyone being threatened with secession or treason.
Would a similar thing be so readily possible in a place like England, or Argentina, or Communist China?
When discussing the intricacies of the USA’s remarkable infrastructure, most will bring up its similarities to ancient Rome, and how it was influenced by concepts espoused during the French Revolution. One thing hardly anyone will bring up, though, is just how much it not only aligns with the philosophies of—and is inspired by—the first inhabitants of North America.
Thousands of years before the first Europeans ever conceived of uniting their colonies into some sort of organization, Native Americans enjoyed a world of free trade and (relatively) undisturbed freedoms on their own respective tribal lands. With the exception of wars which took place between various tribes, this was life for the Native Americans; pride, justice, and freedom on their own lands within this one big land. You know, not unlike the idea of “states”?
Much later down the line,the Iroquois of the north east formed a confederation of many tribes dedicated to the mutual protection and well-being of one another through focus on maintaining individual freedoms such as the right to believe the way one wants and the right to associate with whomever one wants, as well as keeping societal power in the hands of the many and not the few.
It was this that the likes of Thomas Paine and Benjamin Franklin, founding fathers of the modern USA we now know, saw about the first peoples of the continent, and sought emulate in their budding system of government which, to them, was quite new, but to the Natives, was just “common sense” (see what we did there? No? Oh well…).
With being the first people here, having contributed so much to what now is, being so (allegedly) the nation of freedom and prosperity for all, one would think that the Native Americans enjoy a status unlike that of any other indigenous people who have undergone disenfranchisement by foreign nations; that they exert the same degree of power and influence that any American can in the national government as well as on the tribal lands of their ancestors…
But they don’t.
One word: “responsibility”.
You see, being the first peoples of the continent, whose cultures predated anything people now think of as American by thousands of years, the Native Americans were driven off their lands over the course of centuries by invading Europeans (The English, in chief, when dealing with the US, specifically), which lasted long after the establishment of the United States.
These newcomers were different in almost every way from most of the Indigenous peoples, and had “expansion” on their minds; this meant that they sought to expand their dominions as far west (as they had come from the east) as they could, and assimilate (or otherwise eliminate) any people that stood in their way.
This much is old news. Common knowledge. Old hat. Everyone knows the entire United States rests on land that once belonged to many indigenous tribes, and that time and again, treaties were broken and atrocities committed.
But it is also known that times have changed: we now live in a multicultural society that strives for tolerance and understanding among cultures, and in a country that prides itself on its abundance of personal freedoms. So, again, why are Native Americans constantly battling for recognition as Indigenous peoples, not to mention as American citizens?
Going all the way back to the dichotomy that sprang up and still dominates the American political landscape—of Republicans and Democrats—in the beginning, Republicans sought to deal with what was known in those (dark) days as the “Indian problem” using the strategy of assimilation. They believed the natives should be stripped (whether gradually or immediately) of their cultural heritage and essentially added to the existing Western American culture through indoctrination and outbreeding (a common enough strategy for anyone’s who’s ever tried conquering something). A fairly bloodless (whenever “possible”) genocide, but a genocide all the same.
The Democrats, too, had their own version of how to deal with the “Indian Problem” , one that was, in their minds (or so they say…) more compassionate, and yes, even “liberal” than that of their Republican contemporaries: they would preserve their culture, race and heritage…by putting them on “reservations”, areas designated by the dominant and or victorious American government just for them. There, they could be as “Indian” as Indian got without having to worry about being influenced by the new Americans, who could not help but maintain a European mindset, try as they might to break out of it. And there they would remain. Safe, “protected”, provided for, and, when necessary, punished, by the US government, as leaving their newly designated tribal grounds was a crime.
In other words, a form of house arrest.
It is THIS system that prevails today.
With the turn of the last century, both the Republican and Democrat parties made significant contributions to the Native communities, but only the Republican party’s were outstanding. It was , in fact, Republicans, who liberated Natives from the oppressive prison system of the Democrats, making them full American citizens, able to travel wherever and whenever in the country without any kind of assault on their cultural heritage (this much was apparent when Calvin Coolidge was formally adopted by the Lakota in a traditional ceremony in gratitude).
Democrats, on the other hand, clung to “responsibility”, embracing the progressive (yes, progressive) citizenship policies of Republicans, but encouraging Natives to stay on the still-existing reservations all the same as wards of the government, appealing to “tribal sovereignty”.
The Republican empathy for natives seemingly continued right up until Richard Nixon, who is remembered as a “mighty warrior for Indian country” by every source, native and non, having been mentored by his Luiseno coach, and cultivated a close relationship with native peoples.
Then dawned the age of the Bushes. The “Neo Conservatives”. Which is just a big fancy way of saying “Republicans who act just like the buffoons their Democrat buddies want them to be”.
This was a time when the only way someone knew anything about American Indians was if they saw something about them in a movie, or a protest on TV.
Then, at long last, came a Republican who was also a political outsider. His name was Donald Trump, and for whatever reason, he took such an interest in Native America that he was and still is the only president to address the decades old problem of murdered and missing native women with the creation of “Lady Justice”, a department dedicated to finding and, if possible, recovering these women. He also strengthened tribal sovereignty in ways no other president of our time would have even considered, and even oversaw the birth of several new tribes who’d long sought federal recognition.
Trump was a true Republican, which is to say, one who fought for only minimal government and private ownership of property while (almost paradoxically) believing in a united nation of nations that believes in a single idea that binds it all together.
And now, we stand poised to let the Democrat hegemony take over once more, with the apparent victory of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, eager to take their places in the oval office, and their administration already affirming their commitment to the nation’s “responsibility” to Native Americans…
So what exactly is meant by “responsibility” when its spoken by Democrats, or verily, any American politician?
In their eyes, American citizens, and especially those in power, are “responsible” for taking care of Native peoples who have been historically displaced and taken to the brink of extionction. To feed them, clothe them, see to their needs, needs they long saw to themselves centuries before, all on reservations or trust lands: places where tribal law is the law of the land, or at least for those enrolled in tribes.
Despite the fact that these places are one hundred percent government property, the likes of which could be gotten rid of in the blink of an eye should the feds ever get tired of looking at them, though that likely won’t happen, seeing as how that sort of thing has gone out of style…we think.
And so on goes the establishment politics with their “responsibility” to Native Americans, tying them to a destiny that was never theirs, one of eternal captivity under a false pretense of freedom on their own lands.
But Natives are not the only ones adversely affected by the “responsibility” of this nation to Native peoples: non-natives also, are bound up in this feeling of being responsible for things their ancestors may or may not have done to the nation’s first peoples, and those who push responsibility do so to keep them on toxic cultural trends (such as “white guilt”, for instance) which, in turn, works on their sympathies to strengthen the responsibility narrative, and keep Natives from reaching true self sufficiency and political freedom.
Indeed, all are held captive by “responsibility”.
Many young natives, and certainly older ones, do not feel any affection for or connection with the USA at all, which is understandable, but many nevertheless feel a strong connection to this country and its ideals for reasons more than just ancestral. Perhaps it is because they see within in it, at is roots, at its core foundations, the wisdom of their ancestors.
If you are one such Native who feels hopeless, like there is no point in fighting for anything in this country, or that your own heritage is worthless, we urge you to reconsider; to see history, the past, the present—and above all, look to the future—in a different light, the light of Native Conservatives.
There is only one path to peace, prosperity, and reconciliation for native peoples with other Americans, and that is the Republican path. Though no human way lacks imperfection, Democrats have amply demonstrated time and time again that they do not have Native values or interests at heart. With the freedom-oriented, traditional value upholding, right to defends oneself approach of the so called “right” (which is actually an insult veiled in French Revolution mystery) Native American traditions, values, but above all, hopes, find a much more cozy welcome.
Join with us today, and let the legacy of the American Indian be realized on a scale like never before: lead Natives Americans, Non-Native Americans, and the whole world out of “responsibility”, and into freedom!