THE SILENCING OF NATIVE VOICES
The United States Constitution clearly states that Native American tribes are a recognized political entity of the nation. Yet, tribes are the only such political entity that has absolutely no structural representation in Congress. Even Puerto Rico, Washington, D.C., Guam, U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands each get one delegate, even though Natives account for 6.6 million of our national population and 2% of United States geographical land is Native trust land.
According to a federal court ruling in the 1830’s, “tribes possess a nationhood status and retain inherent powers of self-government”, ensuring that tribes can make their own decisions in regard to their property and citizens. However, current federal policy contradicts this by stripping away the authority to protect their own people. Though the rate of violent crime against First People is twice the national average, tribal nations are for the most part unable to prosecute criminal offenders for violent crimes that occur within tribal borders. In 1978, the Supreme Court case Oliphant v. Suquamish stripped tribes of the right to arrest and prosecute non-natives who commit crimes on reservation. The only legal weapon at a tribal officer’s disposal (without state or federal interference) is a traffic ticket or ejecting a perpetrator from the reservation.
It is time for First People to have a voice in the political conversation of this nation and to have a say in how the government of the United States runs. The Red Road is dedicated to making this happen and to improving governmental policy regarding our own people and our own lands.