by Errol Jawara Strongeagle Hunt Jr.
‘“Whole Indian Nations have melted away like snowballs in the sun before the white man”s advance. They leave scarcely a name of our people except those wrongly recorded by their destroyers … They have been reduced to a mere shadow of their former greatness. We had hoped that the white men would not be willing to travel beyond the mountains. Now that hope is gone. They have passed the mountains, and have settled upon Tsalagi (Cherokee) land. They wish to have that usurpation sanctioned by treaty. When that is gained, the same encroaching spirit will lead them upon other land of the Tsalagi (Cherokees). New cessions will be asked. Finally the whole country, which the Tsalagi (Cherokees) and their fathers have so long occupied, will be demanded, and the remnant of the Ani Yvwiya, The Real People, once so great and formidable, will be compelled to seek refuge in some distant wilderness. There they will be permitted to stay only a short while, until they again behold the advancing banners of the same greedy host. Not being able to point out any further retreat for the miserable Tsalagi (Cherokees), the extinction of the whole race will be proclaimed. Should we not therefore run all risks, and incur all consequences, rather than to submit to further loss of our country? Such treaties may be alright for men who are too old to hunt or fight. As for me, I have my young warriors about me. We will hold our land.”
Dragging Canoe, Chickamauga Tsalagi
These words, known as the “We Are Not Yet Conquered” speech, given by Tsi”yu-gunsini (in English, his name means “Dragging Canoe”) in 1775, speak directly to the issue of cultural survival and Native American opposition to the sale (theft) of our ancient lands to colonial settlers during the Revolutionary War. The interesting fact is that Tsi”yu-gunsini, a member of the Wolf Clan of the Cherokee Nation, fought “against” what is now the United States of America; he aligned himself and fought alongside the British.
Tsi”yu-gunsini led attacks on colonial settlements throughout the American Southeast, and he fought in battles against settlements from Eastern and Middle Tennessee to Kentucky and Virginia.
In connecting Tsi”yu-gunsini”s war efforts to the Montaukett Indian Nation”s own fight for recognized tribal existence, the contemporary paradigm must be explored.
The modern reality is that Tsi”yu-gunsini fought to protect his people”s land from capture and occupation. Although we know that the British embraced the same imperial objectives as the colonists, it must be noted that Tsi”yu-gunsini maintained an indigenous paradigm of eternal consciousness that has followed countless generations of struggling Native tribes from the dawning of America to contemporary struggles like those of the Lakota, the Shinnecock, and yes – our Montaukett Indian Nation.
History provides evidence that Native Americans are experienced in, open to, and capable of spiritual, cultural, and political development and evolution. We are now living in a time when it is necessary to restore our traditional greatness through strong organization of the aforementioned fronts. We must be aware that every true nation possesses a hierarchy of spiritual, cultural, and political influence. This realization begins with a trustworthy and honorable assembly of leaders that is best able to govern, especially when it comes to external political relations with sovereign global governments.
In light of the current events surrounding recognition efforts, and the overarching bruises of state-sanctioned prejudice as it relates to the theft of Montauk lands, the Montauk tribe must ask if true justice is our true objective? And is pious apathy the only ingredient that the Montauk People will submit to in this fight? Is the threat of progressive regression and self-determined bondage the acceptable fate of the Montaukett Indian Nation where the judicial system continues to treat us as if our people do not exist?
These questions raise a beacon that exposes history”s coffers to remind us that we “still” lack the dignity of a self-defined citizenship classification under the U.S. Constitution! As a Nation, we have the right and responsibility to define ourselves, especially (if we choose) outside of the colonial confines of the constitution. After all, the drafters of the constitution ultimately refer to Indians as ”Domestic Dependent Nations”, which meant that Indians were unable to contract with any other recognized power other than the United States, and that Congress could control all official associations with non-Indians. Since Indians possessed natural sovereignty predating contact with Europeans, tribes preserved the right to regulate tribal affairs without U.S. intervention.
This truism brings to light several greater questions: Do we seek definition as true Sovereign People who existed “before” the U.S. Constitution – before the arrival of European Imperialists? And, is it not true that judge Blackmar’s decision has yet to be overturned due to tribal indifference within the constraints of Western comforts via capitalism? Additionally, aren”t we still praying for charitable acknowledgment gifts from the “repentant” progeny of imperialists?
New York State government, along with other federal authorities, have been reveling in their property and power-grabs while the Montaukett Indian Nation struggles to regain the respect of long-transcended ancestors who now look down on us in shame as we listlessly consent to cultural collapse through imperialistic savagery.
Frederick Douglass once said that “Power concedes nothing without a demand”, but many Native Americans seem to think that making a demand is synonymous with soliciting the beneficiaries of imperialism for permission to be recognized as the original people of this land mass.
Demands, at least those made in the real world, carry with them the ability and audacity to enforce their implementation. In the case of recognition and justice efforts for the Montaukett Indian Nation, if we lack the power necessary to make compulsory the goals of such demands, then we are simply making a polite request; placing a wishful nickel under democracy”s pillow, hoping that the justice fairy will appear as we dream about benevolent tyranny.
The Montaukett Indian Nation needs to proactively expand the fight to secure positive change, lawfully reclaiming a place at the table of nations, protecting our autonomy, and legally avowing our power under the respected guidance of our Ancestors, our elders, and the international community. “NOT” as 14th Amendment grantees, but as full Sovereigns that have obtained our rights from The Creator and aboriginal title [see United States v. Sante Fe Pac. R.R. Co., 314 U.S. 339 (1941)].
This acknowledgment of our universal right and responsibility to exist as a people will give us a lawful objective that, for the record, presents a strategic plan that is much more effective than political emotivism. Supplication and charismatic prayers for rights is equal to self-imposed subjugation. Our current existence has been achieved and earned with the blood and tears of our mothers, fathers, grandparents and great -grandparents. Now is not the time to toss our survival out of oblivion”s window.
That is a losing cultural strategy that will render the Montaukett Indian Nation socially impotent!
Cyclical begging for constitutional rights during our current recognition struggles has only one “predictable” outcome; the achievement of similar results. Semi-strategic, tear-stained marches or other public irritations may capture more “rights”, but these rights can “legally” be taken away at any time by the same eager tyrants who bequeath them.
Rights? What are rights?
In the juristic context, which is how New York State recognizes such language, Black”s Law Dictionary defines a right as follows: “a capacity residing in one man of controlling, with the assent and assistance of the state, the actions of others.”
What does this mean in layman”s terms? Simply, it means that men, supported by the state (in this case, the State of New York) determine, distribute, and enforce rights as “they see fit.” Additionally, rights are entitlements or licenses that are awarded by state or governing authorities that hold controlling powers over those who consent to their influence. It goes without saying that those who occupy seats in the U.S. decision-making processes also have the ability to remove those rights at any time.
So, who truly has the power to define rights? And who, then, is endowed with the power to adopt, implement, and enforce those rights?
As it relates to the U.S. Constitution, the power to enforce – the power to apply constitutional significance is defined, according to Black”s Law Dictionary, as follows:
“The right to take action in respect to a particular subject-matter or class of matters, involving more or less discretion, granted by the constitutions to the several departments or branches of the government, or reserved to the people. Powers in this sense are generally classified as legislative, executive, and judicial.”
Power, then, may be legislatively-defined as the ability to demand, to sway, to influence, and to control. Consequently, ALL recognized Native American tribes in the United States are currently under the legislative jurisdiction (power) of Title 25 under the United States Code AND ARE NOT SOVEREIGN.
To bring more clarity to this legal quandary, the United States Code is the codification, by subject matter, of the general and permanent laws of the United States. By “legal” default, U.S. tribal existence is defined by United States Codes, NOT by tribal decree or activity.
So, there are NO recognized Native American Tribes residing in the United States of America who are recognized (by the United States) as “true” Sovereign governing entities.
The following clip reveals the true thoughts of the United States government:
So, what is Sovereignty?
From Black’s Law Dictionary\r\n(6th Edition)
“The supreme, absolute, and uncontrollable power by which any independent state is governed; supreme political authority; the supreme will; paramount control of the constitution and frame of government and its administration; the self-sufficient source of political power, from which all specific political powers are derived; the international independence of a state, combined with the right and power of regulating its internal affairs without foreign dictation; also a political society, or state, which is sovereign and independent.
The power to do everything in a state without accountability, –to make laws, to execute and to apply them, to impose and collect taxes and levy contributions, to make war or peace, to form treaties of alliance or of commerce with foreign nations, and the like.
Sovereignty in government is that public authority which directs or orders what is to be done by each member associated in relation to the end of the association. It is the supreme power by which any citizen is governed and is the person or body of persons in the state to whom there is politically no superior. The necessary existence of the state and that right and power which necessarily follow is “sovereignty.” By “sovereignty” in its largest sense is meant supreme, absolute, uncontrollable power, the absolute right to govern. The word which by itself comes nearest to being the definition of “sovereignty” is will or volition as applied to political affairs.”
From Bouvier”s Law Dictionary\r\n(1856 Edition)
A SOVEREIGN STATE is one which governs itself independently of any foreign power.
1. SOVEREIGNTY is the union and exercise of all human power possessed in a state; it is a combination of all power; it is the power to do everything in a state without accountability; to make laws, to execute and to apply them: to impose and collect taxes, and, levy, contributions; to make war or peace; to form treaties of alliance or of commerce with foreign nations, and the like.
2. Abstractedly, sovereignty resides in the body of the nation and belongs to the people. But these powers are generally exercised by delegation.
3. When scrutinized, sovereignty is naturally divided into three great powers; namely, the legislative, the executive, and the judiciary; the first is the power to make new laws, and to correct and repeal the old; the second is the power to execute the laws both at home and abroad; and the last is the power to apply the laws to particular facts; to judge the disputes which arise among the citizens, and to punish crimes.
In the context of Rights and Duties of States :
… “Sovereignty … implies a state”s lawful control over it”s territory generally to the exclusion of other states, authority to govern in that territory, and authority to apply law there.”
Under United States Public Law #103-150 (and recognized in November of 1993 by then President Bill Clinton ), Hawaii won a crucial battle in their fight for Sovereignty by accepting the following statement:
“The indigenous Hawaiian people never directly relinquished their claims to their inherent sovereignty as a people or over their national lands to the United States, either through their monarchy or through a plebiscite or referendum.”
Do we, the Montaukett Indian Nation, claim this same “inherent sovereignty?” And do we operate via referendums or plebiscites, which are “direct votes in which an electorate is asked to either accept or reject proposals.”
And, if we do claim an inherent sovereignty, can/do we live this claim through our tribal customs, traditions, and actions?
The current issue concerning the retrieval of our identity as a people and tribe again deals squarely with the question of Sovereignty in the face of America”s abuse of judicial power. Not under the precarious banner of statutory rights, civil liberties, or imperial decrees, and Not under the “decree” of judge Abel Blackmar in his illegal and immoral decision to rescind our existence and, in essence, our history.
America”s power paradigm, adopted and executed by its imperialistic founding fathers, officially began with The Declaration of independence, which would today be classified as the product of a terrorist regime.
In that document, we see that the societal concerns of the revolutionary war-colonists mimic the concerns of contemporary Native American communities. We see similarities between that time and now in the Declaration”s tenets, as independence and freedom were and are at the root of any form of righteous government.
For example, the following excerpts present a clear and present danger in outlining Montaukett Indian Nation survival concerns as it pertains to current legislative processes for recognition/reinstatement initiatives:
a) He has refused to pass other laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only
b) He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures
c) For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever
These “pre-constitution” principles, contained within the Declaration of Independence, should extend and enhance our comprehension as to why the racist edict by judge Blackmar was in violation of our “recognized” status as a “pre-constitution” Sovereign Indian Nation. Blackmar”s decision also worked to impose our transition from a Sovereign People to 14th Amendment “ward-of-the-state” citizens.
The Montauk Tribe of Indians “NEVER” voluntarily abandoned our tribal existence! We “NEVER” voluntarily assimilated into the mainstream citizenry! We “NEVER” agreed to become wards of the state!
In fact, the opposite is true!
Prior to judge Blackmar”s ruling, we were recognized as ” … Montauk Indians in the enjoyment of tribal rights in Indian Field and a sufficient tribal organization to preserve … those rights.” These are judge Blackmar”s own words – contained within his own ruling on the “non-existence” of the Montauk Tribe of Indians.
In other words, judge Blackmar decided that, in order to satisfy colonial greed originating from the Pharaoh v. Benson case of October 1910, “he” determined that we no longer exist. His editorialized-decision defied the State of New York Constitution (which by the time of the 1910 ruling, was superceded by the U.S. Constitution).
When such miscarriages of justice are perpetrated against our people and not lawfully challenged by “our people”, then it is “our people” (The Montaukett Indian Nation) who have voluntarily abdicated our responsibility as a Sovereign Nation and People.
Generally, for the Native American, these responsibilities must come in the form of civil disobedience and ungovernable social disruption, since we are considered to be merely 14th Amendment citizens (if we are acknowledged as citizens at all).
This type of nation building will require more wisdom, courage, honor, accountability, stability, and more self-discipline than has been demonstrated thus far. Unity is not achieved through uncontrolled expressive outbursts. This means that we must convey shrewd emotional restraint instead of weak sensitivity to notorious state – sanctioned oppression. We must contribute long-term strategies and disseminate our ideology in bite-sized morsels that are edible to our people.
Additionally, we must apply the following guide to evolve from victimhood to victory:
a) Create relational development for community building
b) Organize a public relations interaction committee for positive awareness outreach\r\nc) Improve foreign relations to achieve goals outside of our social spheres\r\nd) Create committees to address the following:
1 – Conflict (War / Peace)
2 – Economics (Production / Distribution / Consumption / Material Wealth)
3 – Education (Transmission of Knowledge and Awareness)\r\n4 – Health (External Environmental/Medical)
5 – Law (Legislation / Treaty / Ordinances / Statutes / Rules / Regulations)
6 – Politics (Policy Establishment)
7 – Procreation (Sex / Sexuality)
8 – Spiritual (Internal Environment / Religion)
These ideals are not original, but our approaches to adjusting our current legal, spiritual, mental, and historical paradigm must be unique! The new strategy must present a methodology that applies wisdom to history”s lessons, so that the legislative and economic mistakes from the not-so-distant past are not repeated.
Organization demands that we be adaptable, resourceful, and receptive enough to evolve into a power force that never loses steam again in the face of cultural bigotry, political tyranny, and social domination.