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Stereotype of the Month Entry
(5/1/03)


Another Stereotype of the Month entry:

From the Arizona Republic:

Indians' situation a Catch-22
May. 1, 2003 12:00 AM

Creating more opportunities for reservation Indians will not occur until the U.S. Congress does away with the reservation system ("A brighter path," Editorial, Monday).

But the reservation system will not end if people who could bring about change, such as Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., take the position that it is "not going to change" ("A word with Sen. Jon Kyl," Tuesday).

Kyl thinks the reservation system should change, because it "does not recognize private property." Well, who created the reservation system? The U.S. Congress. Who can change the system? The U.S. Congress.

In 1887, the U.S. Congress approved the Dawes Act to allot reservation lands to individual Indians. The intent was for Indians to become owners of their lands and to be assimilated into the larger society.

Like most government programs, this one did not go as intended. A major difficulty was the federal bureaucracy. As a result, the U.S. Congress gave us the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934. This has had the effect of making federal political subdivisions of reservations.

Indians were made U.S. citizens by the U.S. Congress in 1924. Today, reservation Indians enjoy super citizenship, voting in state and county elections and holding elective office but not paying state income or state or county property taxes.

This is unfair to the rest of us. End the reservation system now!

-Earl Zarbin
Phoenix

A Native replies

I have to laugh, does this man think that we really have it so great on the reservations? Maybe he should try to live on one, live the way most of our Elders are forced to live in want and poverty because of the Government programs that DO NOT work as [was] promised.

Perhaps he should be made to read the REAL histories of our people, how we had everything stripped from us. Let him read how the government has since day one created every method imaginable to wipe us out, and is still in the business of doing same. However, I don't think he will accept fact, for he is centered in the idea that we are living some glorious existence.

Just my own personal opinon.

Peace and Blessings;
Ghost Dancer (aka WaziNagi)

Rob's reply
Zarbin's initial premise is false, since casinos and other businesses are creating opportunities for "reservation Indians" now. So abolishing the reservation system isn't necessary.

Zarbin talks as if allotment and assimilation were good ideas that the "federal bureaucracy" somehow ruined. They weren't good ideas, since they had the effect of destroying Indian people and their cultures. Upholding the treaties the US government signed, rather than breaking every single one of them, would've done much more to ensure the Indians' survival and prosperity.

The dual citizenship of "reservation Indians" isn't "super citizenship" any more than the dual citizenship of people who are American and Mexican. Or any other country that allows dual citizenship.

If Zarbin doesn't like the quasi-sovereign status of Indian nations, he can lobby the government to make them fully sovereign again. Yes, give them back their land (most of the western US should suffice), kick them out of the Union, and see what happens as they establish foreign nations (complete with visa requirements and border patrols, perhaps) in our midst.

Related links
The facts about tribal sovereignty
Too-powerful Indians
Indians as welfare recipients


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