Phil Lucas, the late and legendary Choctaw filmmaker, once remarked that American Indians — after five centuries of colonialism — have learned very well how to divide and conquer themselves. The most effective way, the one taught in Christian boarding schools and reinforced in racist legal regimes, is to deny other Native Americans their inherent identity, thereby limiting those who can have a slice of the colonial pie.
But beyond the dysfunctional value of greed instilled by the European Americans, the systematic division of enrolled Indians and recognized tribes from unenrolled Indians and unrecognized tribes, has been a malicious method of subverting solidarity between all who share a Native American identity.
Identity is an important thing to protect and nourish if we want to create a healthy society from the ruins of bigotry and genocide. I may not be an Irish citizen, but my Irish heritage is vital to my sense of belonging in this world; living in their tribal homeland without tribal citizenship or recognition must be devastating for someone raised as Native American.
If tribes want to limit enrollment by blood quantum or other means, that is up to them, but attacking those who want to honor their heritage from Native America without attempting to claim benefits is a serious mistake, especially when the values of indigenous peoples worldwide are assailed by church and state and markets bent on destroying everything they hold sacred. Finding ways of generating greater unity is what we need, not further division.
We are only as strong as our friendships.
The library is dedicated to the memory of Secwepemc Chief George Manuel (1921-1989), to the nations of the Fourth World and to the elders and generations to come.access here