03. Old News from Indigenous Nations | Indigenous Sovereignty | Sovereign’s Handbook

By Johnny Liberty

Onondaga Insist on Self-Rule

The Onondaga Nation has insisted on self-rule and independence from the federal government for centuries. Today, enter the Onondaga Nation territory and one will enter a foreign country. 

The Onondaga Nation does not recognize federal jurisdiction or consider themselves “U.S. citizens”. They travel freely on their own passports. They refuse to accept federal programs that other tribes recognized as “nation within a nation” have accepted at the cost of their sovereignty and independence.

The federal U.S. government doesn’t concede the Onondaga’s independence and the Nation has been in numerous legal battles with the State of New York which still claim jurisdiction over the Nation. 

According to Chief Irving Powless, by western standards the tribe lives in poverty, but the Onondaga’s consider themselves blessed to be free and not accept the trappings of civilization such as being taxed, drafted, investigated and counted.

Chief Powless is a member of a tribal council picked by clan mothers in a matriarchal society. He asserts there are lots of happy, well-fed people who are firmly rooted in their culture. “We’re still here…surviving without compromising our position for the last 244 years.”

Oneida Shoot for Economic Independence

The nearby Oneida Nation doesn’t share the Onondaga’s strategy for sovereignty. They are convinced true sovereignty must be built on economic independence. 

The Oneida Nation have raked in $100 million or more in casino profits since 1993 and expanded their land base from 32 acres to 4,000 acres through reacquisition of land that was once part of their Nation before colonization. 

Being run by tribal governments installed by the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) doesn’t yield an independent voice for the indigenous people, but a mouthpiece for and cooptation by the federal U.S. government. Not to mention the immorality of raking in profits on gambling and disempowerment – a prostitution of the human spirit.

Many other tribes have gone this route, and it could be a short-term working strategy for economic development and ultimately long-term sovereignty if they don’t lose the heart and soul of their people in the process. 

The tribe could gain economic independence only if they converted the financial resources into an infrastructure that provides for self-reliance, sovereignty and true interdependence.  

Shawnee Declare War on United States

On January 23, 1990, the Shawnee Nation Reserve was violated by an armed force which invaded the reservation in order to steal Shawnee Indian property and impose civil jurisdiction upon Shawnee Indian Country and the Indians thereon, according to Chief Jimmie D. Oyler.

A recent tax levied against the Chief personally has prompted him to file Motions with Demand and Warning to Governor Bill Graves, the Secretary of Revenue and the Board of Tax Appeals for the return of all Indian property and/or monetary compensation for property, taken during the January 23, 1990 action. He is suing for an excess of $1,000,000.

Chief Jimmie D. Oyler and other unnamed tribal members sent a legal warning to the State of Kansas that anything short of “total compliance with the Constitution of the United States, United States Treaties with the Shawnee and others” shall result in total war. 

Northern Russian Federation Calls for International Assistance

Indigenous groups in the Northern Russian Federation have called for international support for negotiations with Russian President President Yeltsin. The group is transmitting a call to “political parties and movements, to the Russian public, to all people of good will, to whom the life and rights of every nationality is dear, to support the aims of minority peoples of the Russian North for self preservation.”

Socio-economic conditions among indigenous people of the North Russian Federation continue to deteriorate and the extinction of the Aleut, Ket, Iganasan, Negidalets, Orok, Oroch, Tofalar, Enets and Yukagir people seems imminent.

V.B. Shustov, General Secretary of the Association of Indigenous Peoples of the North, Siberia and Far East, says annexation of lands to accommodate “rapacious petroleum, natural gas, coal, gold and non-ferrous mining interests, without any form of just compensation to indigenous people of the north, is threatening 29 endangered nations representing some 200,000 individuals.” 

He asserts that “the transition to a market economy is characterized by a total break down of traditional economic activities and way of life, an uncontrolled growth of unemployment and impoverishment, life threatening levels of crime and alcoholism that undermine traditional outlooks on life, sharp decline in the health of our peoples and death rates that are one and a half times the average in the country.”

As a result, indigenous groups are demanding the Russian government start a negotiation process with the government of the Russian Federation before it is too late, addressing the questions of direct compensation, guarantees of traditional resource use and economic activities, social services, economic advancement, government representation and related issues. 

Unfortunately, this strategy is flawed as it is an appeal from an affiliated NGO of the United Nations (UN). Although, application for international recognition of the injustice is well intended, this is an appeal to the same Global Power structure that created the injustice in the first place. Can you appeal to the wolf to stop eating the chickens?

Huaorari Nation Occupies Oil Platforms

The Huaorani Nation of the Ecuadorian Amazon (ONHAE) occupied oil platforms and rigs belonging to Maxus Ecuador Inc., according to an ONHAE spokesman, as well as Hector Villamil of the Pastaza Indigenous Peoples Organization (OPIP). Maxus Ecuador Inc., denies that the wells were seized, but the Quito Daily News reported that there are about 100 soldiers in the area who could be used to remove the protesters.

The Huaorani group says that despite an Agreement of Friendship, Respect and Mutual Support signed between the indigenous people and Maxus, the company’s true intentions have become manifest. The compact was signed amidst divisiveness and deceit on Maxus’ part and the corporation’s paternalism and manipulation is resulting in loss of autonomy for the Huaorani people.

As a result, the Huaorani have proposed a new agreement to the government of Ecuador and Maxus, Inc. for the conducting of oil exploration in Block 16. The new agreement challenges the government and Maxus to defend and protect the cultural, organizational and territorial integrity of the Huaorani people and to guarantee their participation in the decision making process for oil development in their territory. 

They also are requesting the corporation to coordinate its activities with the Huaorani’s own economic development plan. 

Indians Threaten Mass Suicide

About 250 Brazilian Indians with a tribal history of suicide are threatening to fight to the death or kill themselves if they’re forced from a ranch in the western brush-lands. Dozens of families of Kaiowa-Guarani Indians have lived on the 1,230-acre ranch, 800 miles west of Brasilia, since it was expropriated and turned into a reservation several years ago.

Earlier this year, President Fernando Henrique Cardoso signed a decree allowing such expropriations to be contested in court, and former owner Miguel de Oliveira sued successfully. A judge ordered the Indians off the land.

Indigenous people have been exploited for generations for the natural resources they command. This is as true in the former Soviet Union, in Ecuador, in Brazil, elsewhere in the world and in the American Southwest. 

Indigenous people have understood the destruction of their sovereignty much longer than the “U.S. citizen”. We have much to learn from each other. Enough of the domination of the white race over the red, black or yellow races. We must respect the sovereignty of all the people of every culture and Nation including our own.

Martial Law at Black Mesa (Big Mountain)

The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) had blockaded the annual spring Dine’ (i.e., Dineh) gathering on disputed territories of the Hopi Partitioned land at Black Mesa (Apache-Navajo Counties), Arizona. This is where “Hopi Partitioned Lands” were carved out of the Navajo Nation by a 1974 Presidential Executive Order which called for the forced eviction of traditional Navajo under the Navajo-Hopi Relocation Act or Public Law 93-531. 

Since the 1960s the mesa has been strip mined for coal )and uranium) by the Peabody Western Coal Company, stirring a controversy over Peabody Energy’s use of groundwater to transport coal. Even though the mine has closed, the Dine’ people are still being relocated and removed from their homes.

Martial law has been imposed over a large area on Black Mesa, or Big Mountain, since May 15th, 1996. Operating under the joint authority of BIA Superintendent Robert Caroline at Kearns Canyon and by Hopi Chairman Ferrill Secakuku at Kykotsmovi, U.S. government agents wearing flak jackets and brandishing automatic weapons are enforcing road closures and conducting warrant-less searches, improper detentions, seizures of personal belongings, food stuffs and medical supplies and intimidation of legal residents in their homes and on their premises.

The residences of Louise and Ruth Benally in the Community of Big Mountain, Arizona and the surrounding area, are covered with scores of law enforcement personnel. 

Violence has been reported by several area residents as police have used batons and force to take the gathering participants into custody. Police are now preparing to use tear gas at the site. Many Navajo Elders are resisting arrest as their children and supporters have already been taken into custody.

The situation escalated as a group of Elder women prevented the arrest of a Dine’ youth. Police then attempted to arrest Elders who sat and clung to each other to avoid being taken into custody. Supporters and family members continue to arrive and confront the Hopi Rangers. The Traditional Elders have called on the legacy media and the American public to come and witness the violence and the occupation of their ancestral homelands.

Hopi Tribal authorities have also verbally threatened to disrupt the upcoming July Sun Dances at Big Mountain.

Leonard Peltier Denied Parole Again

Leonard Peltier’s parole was denied again who is serving two consecutive life sentences and has spent more than 32 years in prison. The next scheduled hearing for Peltier is 2024 when Peltier would be 79 years old.

“A prominent member of the American Indian Movement (AIM), Leonard Peltier was convicted of the murders of two Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents, Jack Coler and Ronald Williams, during a confrontation involving AIM members on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota on 26 June 1975. While Leonard Peltier admits having been present during the incident, he has always denied shooting the agents at point blank range as alleged by the prosecution at his trial.”

The United States Parole Commission (USPC) states that regardless of the information brought back to them from the parole officer and despite favorable recommendations following the U.S. government’s distinct concessions that no direct evidence exists against Peltier, it is more convenient to keep an innocent man in prison than to deal with the controversy that might result from paroling him. 

The Leonard Peltier Defense Committee urges people to voice their outrage with phone calls and faxes. People of every color have their political prisoners, those who have fought, died or been incarcerated for their cause.

It will greatly benefit the “U.S. citizen” and sovereign “state” Citizen and all concerned to build strategic and diplomatic relationships with all other indigenous sovereign nations and people of North America. In order to survive, and participate fully in “Another World Order”, based on the sovereignty of all the people of the world,  we must humble ourselves and lead the way by facilitating a healing and restore justice in the USA.

As Bob Dylan once said, “A man not busy being born is busy dying.” The choice is ours. Americans – grow or die!

References:

  1. Ann Botticelli, Honolulu Advertiser; Review by Estar Holmes, North American News Service, Spring ‘96, p.19.
  2. Russian Federation Association Of Indigenous Peoples Of The North, Siberia and Far East; 117876 Moscow, ul. Stroitelei, 8, k. 2, kom. 707; Tel: (095) 930-7078; PeaceNet: May 19, 1996; Article reviewed by Estar Holmes.
  3. Quote from the Gathering of Native Writers, Artists & Wisdom Keepers at Taos, New Mexico, Oct 14-18, 1992.
  4. Wikipedia | Hopi Nation; Wikipedia | Navajo Nation; PeaceNet (International Indian Treaty Council); Wikipedia | Black Mesa; Sheep Dog Nation Rocks | Once Upon a Time in Big Mountain; Reviewed by Estar Holmes. John Abalone Walsh, Native American Support Group. Dineh Alliance at (520) 607-1449, or the Treaty Council News at (520) 770-9754.
  5. AAA Native Arts | Leonard Peltier again denied parole.
  6. Wikipedia | Leonard Peltier; Peltier Defense Committee www.leonardpeltier.net

Source: Sovereign’s Handbook by Johnny Liberty (30th Anniversary Edition), p.95 – 100

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