Recognition in vain

July 18, 2011


State Recognition – Pseudo Tribal Recognition?

Historically States have never had good relations with Indian Nations. Hundreds of years ago as Anglo colonies were forming along the eastern seaboard already inhabited by numerous tribes. Colonists needed, even expected help from Indians, most if not all would have perished without Indian aid. As the colonies grew and the U.S. formed, colonists saw Indian tribes as a hindrance or nuisance to their colonialist expansions and began extinguishing Indian land claims, even the Indians themselves. Colonies (later states) crafted laws to justify the atrocities committed upon the Indian tribes. The United States formed with a Constitution and Article I granted Congress the sole power over Indian Affairs. Prohibiting & relieving states of involvement in Indian affairs.

Ironically in recent years twenty states have created spurious Indian recognition processes which defy the United States Constitution, States practicing illicit recognition processes are typically void of federally recognized tribal nations due to extirpation by the states. The original thirteen colonies/states are the most active in this practice.

After expending enormous resources over hundreds of years to eliminate tribes from their state, why would states recognize a tribe?

  • To tap federal funds/programs designed and budgeted for Federally Recognized tribes through treaties, concessions and court cases. States obviously benefit if they will go as far as violate the United States Constitution & Supreme Court?
  • Boost revenue for the State by allowing concocted Powwow events on State lands. Indian Art sales.
  • Gain political points/voting blocks for State legislators that sponsor illicit recognition legislation.
  • To give tribes failing to attain Federal recognition an unwarranted avenue for recognition.
  • State recognized tribe is controlled & subjugated by the state that recognized them.
  • Dilute real tribal sovereignty. Could this be the reason the U.S. allows this spurious activity?

Dislodged recognized tribal nations are not invited to return; instead the states create a “State Tribe” with no qualifications or requiring valid claims. A majority of these groups have no legitimate claims and could never be federally recognized. These powerless state tribes are the ideal Indian tribe in the eyes of the State; they create no hindrance or opposition and are not on equal or higher footing than the State. This is why they would never want recognized tribes back in there State. This way the State can appear to be Indian friendly, atone for past misdeeds and not lose/share any power.

Why is State recognition such a problem? Besides the fact that States are contravening the U.S. Constitution, States confound an already complex and obscure recognition process. The Federal Government long ago convoluted the definition of what an Indian tribe is by having 30+ definitions/interpretations. States only compound this problem by not having a definition of an Indian tribe for their contrived recognition process. States give the role of defining the qualifications of an Indian tribe to the very ones that they will nefariously recognize; this just shows the States ignorance on Indian affairs. States are the problem but the U.S. Congress with sole power over Indian affairs fails to exercise their Constitutional powers and prohibit States from interfering or violating the Constitution. The U.S. Congress allows this kind of undermining and now gone unchecked has grown to be an even greater problem for everyone including the recognized tribes and the valid entities trying to attain recognition. There is a process for Federal Recognition already in place enacted by Congress. This is a flawed process, however it is a process that has existed, been practiced and that every recognized tribal nation to date has had to follow. It is not perfect or an easy process, but if you seek recognition of the Federal Government, you are approving of their process. It is a process that needs review, but it still does not give the States the power to recognize.

Illegitimate State recognition processes should not be allowed to undermine & dilute the validity or effectiveness of the Federal recognition process most importantly tribal sovereignty? The Federal government, federally recognized tribes and even valid tribes seeking recognition should not stand for it. Valid tribes once recognized deserve real recognition, not just a seat upgrade from ill conceived State recognition. If the Federal recognition process is not acceptable, then we as American citizens have the right to seek changes in the U.S. Constitution/Congress. States DO NOT possess the power, experience or abilities to remedy or act in Indian affairs…they prove that every day!

If tribes that fight so hard to attain or retain an adulterated State recognition used that energy to acquire Federal recognition or seek a remedy of the process, they would gain respect from existing recognized tribes. Once a valid tribe attains Federally Recognition they too would be seeking to vanquish unlawful State recognition practices because it is an attack on the very sovereignty that they seek. States have never and probably will never be the government that is friendly to Indian Nations and seeks their preservation (maybe a couple of exceptions…maybe), why step into their trap? The States agenda is to create real divide and conquer scenarios as they have always done. They have never stopped practicing colonialism!

It is my personal opinion that there are a number of tribes that deserve recognition and because they cannot attain Federal recognition, the States take advantage of them for the States own benefit. What’s caught up in that net are the fraudulent groups who get on the recognition wagon. It is such a calamity and the only way to fix this issue is for the Federal Government to take corrective actions against these States that violate the U.S. Constitution and eliminate any nefarious State recognition process that is all in vain.


About Chief Holton

President of the Delaware Nation in Anadarko Oklahoma since 2006.

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