My Sovereignty is not the American Dream
By John Kane, Mohawk
Let's Talk Native Pride
I often hear people say that standing on your birthright is too idealistic, to defend our sovereignty sounds good but we can't defend ourselves with sovereignty; it won't hold up in court. I don't even know how to respond to this but let me say this:
Sovereignty, our birthright, is not our defense; it is WHAT we defend! I don't fight for money or cigarettes or casinos. I fight for our right to live our lives and provide for our families and communities. I defend the right to speak and teach the truth. I defend our right to trade and work independent of state and federal regulations. I don't want to look for a loophole in state or federal regulations that a profitable Native business can slip through. I don't want to "smuggle" my belongings from territory to territory to trade with my relatives and people I share 10,000 years of history with because the recent occupiers of our lands protest it.
My birthright was not stripped by the children who escaped the oppression of their parents. Time did not erase my sovereignty. I was not conquered. I did not pledge allegiance to them. Their courts cannot make me theirs. Their legislatures cannot declare me one of them. No chief, no council, no president, no state, no province, no nation can just claim my birthright. My sovereignty comes from Creation. It doesn't come from a treaty, a handshake, the church or even a wampum belt. No army defends my right to speak or provides for my freedom. My freedom ends when I stop defending it. And just because my defense may not appear to have held once, doesn't mean I won't defend it again and again. My freedom does not give me the right to infringe on the freedoms of others nor can anyone assume the just power to regulate the metes and bounds of my freedom. My freedom, my birthright and my sovereignty may be infringed upon but it is not lost until I say so. No "deal" from the past and no other in the present or future can sell out the freedoms of others.
Nowhere in, what some call, our "original instructions" do the words "American Dream" appear. This is neither a part of our history or our future. The pursuit of this fallacy is destructive. It includes greed, fraud, racism, exploitation and the loss of everything that creation provided to us at birth. It equates wealth with success. Wealth is determined by how many more THINGS can be accumulated by one man compared to his neighbor. Quality of life is replaced by quantity of things. Disregard for the toll of consumption on the planet, our neighbors, our friends, our families shows on the climate, in the suicides, the cases of depression and on the consumption of drugs. The next shiny object is the pursuit; the gold, the diamonds, the boob jobs or the blow jobs. Isn't that right, Columbus? Ain't that the truth Governor Spitzer or President Clinton? The American Dream is not in our vessel; it's in theirs. It is not on our path; it is what leads us off it.
So the let the 44th Rahnatakaias in Washington and all those that will follow keep their "equal opportunity to pursue the American Dream" for their American dreamers. As Native people, we need to look to each other, not to defend our collective sovereignty but to defend our sovereignty collectively. No lawyer in a court, ours or theirs, can do it. A birthright cannot be won in court. It was already awarded at birth; by Creation.