Thursday, February 03, 2005


Less noticed was a SOTU delivered today by Tex Hall, the President of the National Congress of American Indians—the 2005 State of Indian Nations address. No fire and brimstone, no carping on the freedom and tyranny dichotomy, no “When they came, they made many promises. They kept one. They said they would take our land, and they took it.” or “Are we better off than we were 500 years ago?”

Although those are fine observations. Instead, just a few simple insights and a pretty firm grip on reality, as opposed to the fantasy blather of Captain Deludo. Here’s a taste:

120 years ago, Chief Joseph reminded us – “Treat all men alike. Give them the same law. Give them all an even chance to live and grow. All men were made by the same Great Spirit Chief. They are all brothers. The earth is the mother of all people, and all people should have equal rights upon it.” Those rights mean we have the right to equal health care, equal school facilities, and equal accounting of our trust property…

Americans should know that since World War II, Indians have the highest percentage of military service of any ethnic group of people in our Country.

When I think of the war in Iraq, I am reminded of the basic principle that the United States cannot do good around the world unless we first do good at home. Much of the power that the United States enjoys grows out of the power of our example. We can't tell people to make a more democratic world unless they think we are making opportunity and hope available to every American citizen. That means tribal citizens must be afforded the opportunity to attend safe schools, drink clean water, receive quality heath care, and live and work in a safe community. In other words, the social crisis is not just an Indian problem – it is a world problem. America, you have to do better at home. Tribes want to be and must be engaged on policy issues facing the nation. As the debate on Social Security reform continues, Native Americans cannot be excluded from the discourse.

Social Security is critical to American Indian and Alaska Native communities as a stable source of income. In addition to protecting our elders, tribes are engaged in protecting and preserving the environment. Across the continent, tribes have always depended on the gifts of fish, wildlife, clean air and water, as well as healthy forests and natural vegetation for their culture, sustenance and economies. Future generations deserve a clean environment and abundant natural resources...

I don’t guess anyone was waving purple fingers during this one.

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