As in Canada, tribal governments in the US have a choice to make about sovereignty; they can either assert political jurisdiction over their territories, or they can become further entrenched in colonial dependency. They can either become fully functioning governing authorities that control taxation, trade and resource management, or they can become wholly controlled corporate entities that answer to Washington and Wall Street.
Assuming the responsibilities of sovereignty and the obligations of self-determination under international law is a demanding proposition, especially within Canada and the US, two of the four countries in the world that opposed the 2007 UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Many American Indians who are willing to fight for these rights find their elected or appointed tribal leaders on the other side. Two hundred years of dependency have created dysfunctional tribal societies.
In her column at Indian Country Today, Dina Gilio-Whitaker observes that not fighting for these rights means continuing to settle for scraps at the master’s table.
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