Stockholm Studies in History 104. TO BE OR NOT TO BE AMERICAN Ingela Sjögren - PDF

Stockholm Studies in History 104 TO BE OR NOT TO BE AMERICAN Ingela Sjögren To be or not to be American Statehood and Peoplehood in Native American Self-identification during the Self-determination era

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Stockholm Studies in History 104 TO BE OR NOT TO BE AMERICAN Ingela Sjögren To be or not to be American Statehood and Peoplehood in Native American Self-identification during the Self-determination era Ingela Sjögren Ingela Sjögren, Stockholm University Press Stockholm Studies in History 104 ISSN ISBN Publisher: Department of History, Stockholm University Printed in Sweden by US-AB, Stockholm 2014 Distributor: Stockholm University Library Cover Picture by Carolinne Roundface To my daughters Alicia and Carolinne, and my mother Margareta. Contents Acknowledgements Introduction Indian rights, sovereignty, and nationalism Indian struggle for rights Nationalism and patriotism Sovereign nations states or peoples? World views and discourses Theoretical framework American Indian world view Sources, Methods, and Questions Indian newspapers Methods Research questions Indian U.S. relations: a historical outline U.S. policies: from assimilation to self-determination Assimilation Indian reorganization Termination Self-determination Indian legal-political status in the United States The context of the early 1970s The Radical Left and political violence Ethnic movements in the United States American Indian political movements in the 1960s and 1970s Political and ethnic movements in Akwesasne Notes and Wassaja Relating to the political left Relating to the civil rights movement Discourse of sovereign statehood Tribes as sovereign states The Iroquois... 86 The Sioux Tribes and organizations claiming tribal and Indian sovereignty Sovereignty for what tribal government? Tribes as Nations within Asserting special rights The federal government and tribal affairs Tribal jurisdiction Indians as U.S. Citizens Citizenship and civil rights Indian participation in state and federal politics Discourse of peoplehood Indian Peoples A real Indian The historic Indian in the present Indian warriors of past and present White People The Vietnamese and other colonized peoples Patterns of identification in the 1970s The context of the early 1990s Native Americans in the early 1990s Discourse of sovereign statehood in the 1990s Tribal sovereignty and a government-to-government relationship with the United States The Iroquois The Lakota Sioux The Western Shoshone The Navajos The Ojibways Indians in the Canadian context Indian speakers at the United Nations The meaning of sovereign nationhood Tribes as domestic nations The issues of jurisdiction and legal rights A special relationship with the federal government Intra-tribal and inter-tribal disputes Indians as U.S. citizens Citizenship and civil rights under the Constitution Indian participation in state and federal politics Discourse of peoplehood in The People Traditional cultural values Belonging to ancestral homelands The Indian warrior Columbus and other white men Patterns of identification in American identification American identification in the 1970s The meaning of America and American Relating to the United States and its symbols Serving in the U.S. military American identification in The meaning of America and American Relating to the United States and its symbols Serving in the U.S. military America Indian lands or the United States? Indian American identification Epilogue Svensk sammanfattning References Sources Newspapers Literature Internet references 10 Acknowledgements This thesis would not have been possible without the help and support from many different individuals and institutions. First of all I want to thank the Department of History, Stockholm University, for giving me the opportunity to work on the research project that has become this doctoral thesis, and for the financial support I have been given. Several other institutions have also supported this dissertation; Helge Ax:son Johnson foundation, E.A. & B Jansson foundation, and Olle Engkvist Byggmästare foundation have generously given financial contributions to this project. I also want to thank the Sequoyah National Research Center, University of Arkansas at Little Rock, for all the help I was given when collecting sources for my thesis. I especially want to thank the Director of the center, Dr. Daniel F. Littlefield, Jr. for sharing his knowledge about the newspapers and for his valuable assistance while I visited the center. I also want to thank Dr. Scott Stevens and Newberry Library, Chicago, Ill., for welcoming me and arranging a study carrel for me in the library. I want to express my gratitude to my two supervisors, Dr. Bo Persson and Professor Gunlög Fur, not only for their valuable comments on different texts and drafts of the thesis, but also for their personal support. Thanks also to all of you who have commented on different text I have presented at the graduate student s seminar; I especially want to thank Nevra Biltekin, Nikolas Glover, Ann Hallner, Lisa Hellman, Johannes Heuman, Eva-Marie Letzter, Margaretha Nordquist, Emma Pihl Skoog, Ale Pålsson, Anna-Carin Stymne and Harry Svensson who commented on the draft of the thesis I presented on my final graduate student s seminar (slutseminariet). Special thanks also go to Associate Professor Daniel M. Cobb who read a draft of the entire thesis and gave insightful and valuable comments and to Professor Christina Florin for helping me get the last pieces of this dissertation puzzle in place. I am deeply thankful to Tom Silvennoinen for saving the dissertation when my computers decided to shut down and I also want to thank Magdalena Hernow and Anders Ståhlberg for their assistance during my final preparations for publishing and defending the thesis. The Department of History has been an inspiring workplace with many great colleagues. Some colleagues have been especially important to me. I have greatly enjoyed the discussions and the everyday conversations about dissertations, teaching, family life and life in general with Anna-Carin 11 Stymne, Margaretha Nordquist, Eva Joelsson, Oskar Sjöström, Jenny Langkjaer, Karin Carlsson and Ann Hallner. Thank you for all your support! Last but not least I want to thank my mother, Margareta Sjögren and my daughters Carolinne and Alicia Roundface for all the practical and emotion support they have given me throughout this project. Without your support this thesis would not have been possible. 12 1. Introduction In October 1992, I joined a group of Crow Indians on a trip to Denver, Colorado, where they were going to protest the celebration of the 500-year anniversary of Columbus discovery of America. Several hundred Native Americans 1 and people of other ethnic origin joined the demonstration. 2 A central topic that was brought up in the speeches was the fact that Columbus discovery of America resulted in the genocide of millions of Native Americans. Naturally, mainstream society s celebration of Columbus Day is a celebration of the United States. Without the discovery there would not have been a United States of America. It is therefore easy to interpret the Indian protest as a protest against the creation of the United States. However, this seems not to have been the case. After speeches and demonstrations in central Denver, a large group of Indians gathered outside the city for an Indian dance. With people dressed in typical Indian garments, dancing native dances to drumbeats and high pitched Indian songs, the whole scenario looked like a celebration of nativeness in opposition to mainstream America. However, at the closing dance, all the dancers formed a line behind a man who was carrying the American flag. He was not dressed in an Indian outfit but in regular jeans and shirt. I wondered why he was chosen to carry the flag and I was told that it was because he was a Vietnam veteran, and he was therefore honored by carrying the flag. I found this very confusing. Only hours after protesting the celebration of Columbus discovery of America and consequently, if only indirectly, the subsequent creation of the American Nation, the Indians celebrated the American Nation by carrying the very symbol of that nation, the American flag. In addition, the person who was chosen to perform this honored task was a person who had fought for the American army, the same army that had defeated several of the American Indian tribes and forced their ancestors to settle on reservations. It was the same army which had, at least partly, been responsible for the genocide that the speakers had referred to in their speeches. 1 I will use the term Native American, American Indian, Indian, and Native interchangeably throughout this thesis when referring to the native peoples of North America. 2 According to former American Indian Movement leader Russell Means, there were as many as 2,500 people at the meeting (Means 1995, p.522). 13 This situation, which seemed to me to be a contradiction in identification, led me to wonder about how Indians understood their relationship to the United States. Didn t the Indians themselves see the contradiction in accusing the U.S. of genocide and then waving its flag? Did it mean that the Native Americans identified as being part of the United States, or apart from it, or perhaps both? And if they identified as both, how should these different ways of relating to the U.S. be understood? In this study, I will attempt to explain these seemingly contradictory ways Native Americans related to the United States in 1992 when the 500-year anniversary of Columbus discovery of America actualized the issue of how Indians might identify their relationship to the United States. However, the study will take its point of departure in an earlier period, in the early 1970s when radical, political activism was strong among Native Americans. One of the main speakers at the 1992 protest meeting in Denver was Russell Means, a well-known former leader of the American Indian Movement (AIM). AIM is an Indian rights organization that was founded in the late 1960s and it has been known for its militancy. AIM members were, for instance, main actors in the occupation of the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) office in Washington D. C. in 1972 and the occupation of the little village of Wounded Knee in South Dakota in Russell Means was one of the main spokesmen for AIM in the early 1970s when these events took place, and he was making statements that very straightforwardly portrayed Indians as not part of the United States. The most famous statement is perhaps his announcement during the occupation of Wounded Knee that the Oglala Sioux Nation was separate and independent from the United States and they would defend their borders against U.S. intrusion. 4 I was not surprised to find Means as a speaker at the protest meeting. To me, he represented a continuity of political activism and protest actions that stretched from the occupations and demonstrations of the early 1970s to the Columbus Day meeting in Denver in He had protested against the celebration of Thanksgiving near Plymouth Rock in and now he protested against the celebration of Columbus Day. Being a visible and outspoken representative of the Native American people, he was an important 3 More information about the American Indian Movement and the occupations will be presented later in this thesis. 4 See, for instance, Deloria, 1985(1974), p Means tells in his autobiography that AIM was invited by the Boston area Wampanoags who had originally lived in the area of Plymouth Colony. They had found evidence that Thanksgiving celebrations originated in the celebration of the colonial militia s murder of Indian people. When the militia returned from killing Indians, the governor of the colony had proclaimed a holiday and feast to celebrate the massacre. In 1970, AIM and the local Indians protested the celebration of the 350th anniversary of the establishment of Plymouth Colony, among other things by disrupting the Thanksgiving dinner and by taking over the replica of the Mayflower ship. (Means 1995, pp ). 14 force in putting Indian rights issues into the national spotlight during the early 1970s. The 1960s and 1970s were turbulent times in American society. Civil rights, women s rights, anti-war, and different ethnic movements fought for changes in American society. AIM and other Indian rights organizations demanded changes also for Native Americans, and as mentioned above, that could mean demands for tribal autonomy. Native American activism was not new in the late 1960s and early 1970s, but during this period it took new expression. This period was characterized by change, both in types of political activism (new methods) and in identification (cultural revitalization and renewed ethnic pride). Indian political activism had gone from reformative goals and conventional tactics to transformative goals achieved through militant direct action. 6 Deloria and Lytle write that the late sixties and early seventies will always be remembered for the great expansion of tribal activities and the new policy of self-determination, 7 and this period has even been referred to as the self-determination era. 8 The new Indian political movement, the Red Power movement, brought ethnic pride and encouragement of searching for one s tribal roots and learning about traditional cultural teachings. This was a change from an earlier generation when many Indians had been ashamed of their Indian heritage and tried to hide it. The movement toward what was perceived as a traditional Native way of life was strong, and the teachings of the elders became important. 9 Questions of race, ethnicity, and civil rights took center stage during this time, and the questions of identity and belonging were actualized. With a history of being colonized and confronted with the discussions of different rights in society, the issue of the Indians relationship to the United States was brought to Native American attention. Cobb shows that Native American activists already in the 1950s and 1960 argued for rights using the language of decolonization. Influenced by other social movements in society, the decolonization of countries in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, and the Cold War competition between the United States and the Soviet Union, Native Americans talked about themselves in terms of colonized peoples. 10 Native American identification in relationship to the United States was no less confusing in the 1960s and 1970s than it was in Also during this time there were examples of Indians identifying as both belonging to and not belonging to the United States. Russell Means was not the only one making statements that portrayed Indians as something other than Americans in the 1960s and 1970s. Vine Deloria Jr. gives an example from a civil rights hearing that was held in the late 1960s. The Sioux tribal leader speaking at the 6 Cobb 2008, p.2. 7 Deloria, Jr. & Lytle 1984, p Johnson Nagel 1996, pp.11 12, Cobb hearing not only claimed separate tribal nationhood, but even thought that it was possible that his tribe could declare war on the United States. Deloria writes: One of the whites asked J. Dan Howard, a Standing Rock tribal councilman, if the Sioux still considered themselves a nation. You bet, was Dan s reply, we could still declare war on you. You might beat us but we d take a lot of you with us. 11 Indians could also very clearly identify as part of the United States. Melvin Thom, co-founder of the National Indian Youth Council (NIYC) 12 stated in 1964, I value American citizenship very highly, and consider it hard earned by our fathers, and he continued, I think Indians make their patriotism quite clear with their military record in World War II and the Korean Conflict. 13 This study takes its point of departure in the early 1970s when Russell Means and other AIM leaders were occupying center stage in the arena of Native American politics and activism, a period that Nagel defines as the main Red Power movement era. 14 My aim is to find out how Native Americans identified in relationship to the United States and to explain the seemingly contradictory ways of identifying as both part of and not part of the U.S. The focus of the study will be on the early 1970s ( ), but I have also made a smaller study on the year 1992 for comparison purposes. In 1992, at the 500-year anniversary of Columbus discovery of America, the question of how to identify in relationship to the United States was actualized again. But the situation for Native Americans was different in 1992 compared to the early 1970s. Indian activism in the early 1970s was spurred by international decolonization and the general upheaval in U.S. society. Indians in 1992, on the other hand, met in much less revolutionary surroundings and with a federal government that acknowledged a government-togovernment relationship with Indian tribes. One aim of the study will therefore be to answer the question: What had remained and what had changed in Indian identification in relationship to the United States between the early 1970s and 1992? Some of what Native Americans in the United States experienced as colonized peoples was unique to their specific context: for instance, their extensive treaty making with the colonial nation-state. However, much of the Indian experience was also shared by other indigenous peoples around the world. Such common experiences were, for example, their more or less forced submission to, and their legal-political inclusion into, the colonial 11 Deloria, Jr. 1970, p Rosier 2009, p Quoted in Rosier p Nagel 1996 p.164. She defines this period as nation-state. It also included attempts by the colonial nation-state to assimilate indigenous peoples into the dominant society. Therefore this study is not only relevant for the field of Native American Studies but also for the field of Indigenous Peoples Studies in general. With this thesis, I hope to contribute to the study of indigenous peoples in two ways. Firstly, in my study of North American Indians, I intend to show how the legal-political relationship between an indigenous people and the colonial nation-state, together with the dominant ideas in a specific historical context, form how that indigenous people identified in relationship to the nation-state. In a wider perspective, this study can help explain the process of how indigenous peoples are integrated into colonial nation-states. Secondly, by applying the theoretical framework of world views (further explained in Chapter 3) to the issue of indigenous identification, I will explain the contradictory ways Native Americans have identified in relationship to the nation-state. Again, in a wider perspective, the study can contribute to the knowledge of how conceptions of belonging are created and made sense of by indigenous peoples. 17 2. Indian rights, sovereignty, and nationalism The ways Indians have understood their relationship to the United States have been greatly impacted by the fact that they were colonized. There are, of course, several ways that a colonized people may relate to the colonizing power. At one end of the spectrum, the colonized people become incorporated as citizens and fully accept and identify with the colonizing power. At the other end of the spectrum, they totally reject any form of integration and demand independence and separation. In between, there are several possible ways that an indigenous people may accept integration, assert different kinds and degrees of limited autonomy and consequently different ways to identify. Scholars have approached the issue of how indigenous peoples have related to their colonial powers in a number of ways, and in this chapter I will discuss some of those approaches. Indian struggle for rights One way of approaching the question of indigenous peoples identification in relationship to their colonial power is to look at what types of rights they have demanded from the state. Have they argued for civil rights within the state or have they demanded autonomy? In her study The Elusive Power of Indigeno
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