August 2020

Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

Monday, December 9, 2013

Dine' Chili Yazzie: 'We must get our land back, we belong to the land'

'The Creator placed us here for a purpose'

By Duane 'Chili' Yazzie
Censored News

We must get our land back. For too long we have been told by the United States Federal Government that it is the Trustee and we are the wards; that they own the land and that we are just “being allowed to live on the land”. 

We unequivocally reject the idea. We may not own the land, but the federal government does not own it either. It is a pathetic statement to say you own land, any land. The idea of owning land is an illogical concept, it contravenes the Original Intent.
We are more correct when we say “this is our land”, that is not the same as saying we own it.

This is our land by virtue of the fact that we were here first. It is our contention that the Creator placed us here for a purpose, it was not coincidence; the Creator is not coincidental. Our concept is we belong to the land and the land belongs to us, we belong to each other. The same way we belong to the mother who brought us into the world, we belong to each other, we don’t own each other.

The Federal Government holds a piece of paper called the Title to the Land; in the context of the Original Intent of the Creator placing us on this land, that piece of paper don’t prove nothing. However, if that piece of paper is to be regarded as sacred and to have value in the halls of Congress, the bench of jurisprudence and the desk of the President, then we want that piece of paper.

The United States Federal Government determined that it would be the Trustee, that it would hold the land “in trust” for us. At the time it declared us to be incompetent to have land, ignoring the fact that we had been in a life sharing co-existence with the land for centuries prior to the Great Intrusion.

Our reality is our present circumstance, we are the wards and the Federal Government is the Trustee with control of our land. Our best option is to work to get control of the land that has our name on it. I believe it is doable, the thought of us getting title to our land is not a futile dream. 

We need to appeal to the magnanimity of the United States Federal Government and prove that we no longer need to be wards and that we are competent to take care of our lands in all respects. We need our scholars of law and political scientists to think outside-the-box of their American academia training, while honoring Indigenous thought principals on land and chart a course for us to get our land back.

Thanks Chili for allowing Censored News to share your statement.

Chili Yazzie was an original member of XIT, the voice of the American Indian Movement in the 1970s, and later served as Navajo Council Delegate and Shiprock, N.M., Chapter President during his ongoing lifetime of service.

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