Poem: Sobriety Creates Beauty

Floral designs extend from my fingers,
To circle around mitig,
To mitigong,
Up to migizi,
And back to nigig,

Floral designs from my feet,
Rooted like mitig into the Earth,
Pause,
Breath,
Zaagidewin,
Zaagidewin,
Zaagidewin,

Otter carries floral designs,
With the medicines,
Across the water,
To Anishinaabe,

The message,
In the teaching,
In the prophecy,
In the healing of our people,

The floral designs,
Travel between worlds,
To the ancestors,
To the ones to come,
Debwewin,
Debwewin,
Debwewin,

Anung,
Our spirits as big as the night sky,
With all that wisdom,
In your body,
My body,
The Anishinaabe body,

Empathy,
As the nibish that nigig feels,
Delicate,
Cleansing,
Fresh,
Sometimes,
You cry for others who can't feel,

Floral designs,
On baskets,
On clothes,
In dreams,

Recovery has created,
This beauty.

- - - - - - - - - -

Translations

Anung = Star
Debwewin = Truth
Migizi - Eagle
Mitig = Tree
Mitigong = Trees/Forest
Nibish = Water
Nigig = Otter
Zaagidewin = Love

An Essay on the Modern Dynamics of Tribal Disenrollment

Disenrollment is predominately about race, and money, and an “individualistic, materialistic attitude” that is not indigenous to tribal communities.

Because many tribes have maintained the IRA’s paternalistic and antiquated definition of “Indian” vis-a-vis blood quantum (as discussed in “An Essay on the Federal Origins of Disenrollment“), tribal membership has largely become “an explicitly racial conception of Indian identity.” Suzianne D. Painter-Thorne, If You Build It, They Will Come: Preserving Tribal Sovereignty in the Face of Indian Casinos and the New Premium on Tribal Membership, 14 Lewis & Clark L. Rev. 311 (2010).

The racial construct has worked well for disenrollment as “American Indians have one of the highest rates of interracial marriage in the U.S.” Gosia Wozniacka, Disenrollment leaves Native feeling ‘culturally homeless’, Associated Press, Jan. 21, 2014. Indeed, Indians of any quantum (defined as “portion”) of Indian blood are by federal design, multi-racial. In addition, “many Native Americans don’t live on reservations, speak Native languages or ‘look’ Indian, making others question their bloodline claims.” Id. In those illustrative ways, Indian conceptions of both race and class converge, with tribal classism also catalyzing disenrollment.

In turn, tribal officials who wish to target political foes or large swaths of politically weak or unpopular members, can “voluntarily invoke race-based definitions of ‘Indian’ [to] narrow the pool of tribal members, perhaps in an effort to limit gaming revenue and federal dollars to [those targeted] tribal members.”Painter-Thorne, supra. These disenrollment stories bear this out. See e.g. Liz Jones, ‘We’ll Always Be Nooksack':Tribe Questions Ancestry of Part-Filipino Members, NPR/KUOW, Dec. 16, 2013; Joanne Barker, The True Meaning of Sovereignty, New York Times, Sept. 16, 2011.

The “forced transition to a cash economy” has likely played a large part in the dramatic spike in disenrollment as well. Jana Berger & Paula Fisher, Navigating Tribal Membership Issues, Emerging Issues in Tribal-State Relations 61, 66 (2013). Prior to the recent disenrollment epidemic, which is estimated to have already vanquished over 11,000 Indians, tribal governments were very inclusive, frequently wanting to have large “membership” numbers. Aside from a greater amount of funding from federal agencies relative to increased tribal membership, from a practical standpoint tribal governments recognized that “there is strength in numbers.” Id.

 But over the last couple decades, as tribes became more dependent on the U.S. economic free-market system, primarily through gaming entrepreneurship, disenrollment began to rear its ugly head. According to Charles Wilkinson.
Just as federal education practices reverberated throughout tribes, so too did the forced transition to a cash economy. The concept of sharing, integral to Indian societies, did not jibe well with the individualistic, materialistic attitude that drove the nation’s economic system. As one Navajo stated, “When a relative needed help, you helped them out. When you needed something else, you could rely on a relative to help out, it all worked out in the long run. With money it doesn’t work anymore, now the relative with the money is expected to help out, what is needed for most everything is money and the poor relatives never have any.” 
Blood Struggle: The Rise of Modern Indian Nations 54 (2006).

As Professor David Wilkins observes, tribal communities historically used ceremony and prayer to resolve intra-tribal tension or conflict; because traditionally speaking, “you don’t cast out your relatives.” Wozniacka, supra. But today, when the political going gets rough in tribal communities, the individualistic, materialistic Indian attitude that Professor Wilkinson describes, increasingly leads to disenrollment of one’s own relatives–instead of towards any holistic or indigenous values-based solution.

Galanda Broadman is an American Indian owned firm dedicated to advancing tribal legal rights and Indian business interests. The firm represents tribal governments, businesses and members in critical litigation, business and regulatory matters, especially in the areas of Indian Treaty rights, tribal sovereignty, taxation, commerce, personal injury, and human/civil rights.

An Essay on the Modern Dynamics of Tribal Disenrollment

Article: Six things not to say to a mixed-race person. And some personal notes

 
This is an excellent video by Marina Watanabe.

As an American Indian of mixed blood (my Certificate of Degree of Indian Blood says I'm 3/8s, but my reality is a bit more complex than that), I know many other mixed-blood Indians. They, like me, have run into conflict on both sides of the racial divide.

Not the least of this is the "you don't look Indian" remark, something that happens a lot to those of us with lighter skin. When the members of my Seminole family used to come together for reunions, the skin colors of the 25 or so people who showed up—all of us closely related by blood—went from very light to as dark as Michelle Obama, a product of the tribe's long history of intermarrying not only with other tribes but also with whites and blacks.

Appearance is often a poor judge of someone's racial background. Take the Dawes Rolls, for instance. These were established by the government in the late 1800s to determine who among the "Five Civilized Tribes" were Indian and, therefore, entitled to an allotment of land. (These allotments were a means of breaking up the tribes and grabbing "surplus" tribal land. Nearly three-fourths of the land in Indian hands prior to 1887 had been expropriated via this means by 1935.)

The determination of whether somebody was an Indian or not for the Dawes Rolls was accomplished in many instances by a white bureaucrat sitting at a table and looking at the person for half a minute. Thus were families split up. Sometimes brothers and sisters with the same father and mother were categorized differently, one an Indian, another not. It was just one more pernicious practice of a pernicious law.

Historically, there have been two different rules for Indians and African Americans. For the latter, it's the "one-drop rule" actually codified into law at one time in Louisiana. Any African American blood at all and you were black. For Indians, something almost opposite has been the case. If you weren't a full blood, then you were not viewed as a "real Indian." Half breed was a common perjorative term even for people quite a bit younger than I. During my 16 years in the American Indian Movement, I probably had to explain a couple of hundred times why my phenotype doesn't match what most people—both Indian and non-Indian—think my genotype should show.

But looks are far from the only issue.

As Watanabe points out in her video, mixed-race Americans—even when they are the same mix—are affected quite differently by how that mixed racedness is seen by people we come into contact with. Although there are stereotypes specific to our groups, we're unique. The various cultures of our ancestors plus our everyday life determines that uniqueness. We're blended, but even among people of the same blending, how prejudice against mixed-race people plays out is not one-dimensional.
Watanabe's video offers people who want to confront their prejudices with an upbeat lesson on how to get started.

Via - Daily Kos

Poem: Reporting Live From the 1842 Treaty Territories

It's a little cold up here,
Should I reach for that beer?
Or hang my laundry on the door?

I can't see straight,
I can't feel my heart,
My hands are cold,

There is a truck parked out there on the lawn,
We haven't seen the sun for days,
Centuries,
What can you do about the factory of your mind?
Environmental injustice all around,

I can't fight no more,
I can't see straight,

There is nothing for miles in the void of my soul,
This land unheard,
These waters,
A thirst,
A hunger,

Cultural retrofits,
That make-shift dangle that sways in the wind,
Broken,
Broke,
There is a shame we don't want to feel,
So we hide away,

Mattress on the floor,
It's not comfortable here,
There wasn't a doily or lace,
Curtains were ripped,
Soiled with tears,
We exited through the door and left our heart on the front steps.

Poem: Colonization

Right now colonization has battered a woman,
Colonization has forced relocation of the Indigenous mind to bottle,
Casino only employer around this place,

Right now colonization has neglected a child,
Cold-shaking-fear but smiling in front of a heater,
Dim light flickering,

Right now colonization has made you feel like a patriot or a brave,
And she is sitting in a closet with cut arms,
Hungry and ignored,
Because Native women can't have eating disorders,

Right now colonization is dividing my being,
My legs are Anishinaabe,
My hands are French,
Compartmentalization makes me run away,
Hiding identity in shame,

Right now colonization has discriminated a Two-Spirit,
A "traditional healer," laughs in this Two-Spirit's face,
This Two-Spirit has no community resources,
The Two-Spirit was a revered community resource,

Right now colonization has headed up your tribal government structure,
The epidemics all around have you ignore domestic violence,
Sex trafficking,
Addiction,
And your colonized Christ is judging the actions of many,

Right now colonization is not breaking news on the news,
There is no Native news on the news,

Right now colonization has ran out of tissues,
Tears,
Surviving everyday discrimination,
Heartbreak syndrome,
Ghost sickness is enough for 500 plus years,

Right now 97.7% of the land is occupied,
We get 0.3 % of the land,

How do you map "de-colonization," when there is very little room for us?