Monday, August 22, 2022

Haven't we done enough to Native Americans?

 

Here we go with Brett Kavanaugh again, but that comes later. The conservative Supreme Court does again what it does best, fuck up the country. The overturning of Roe v. Wade is, perhaps, one of the worst things that has happened to the U.S. in decades. In a 2nd Amendment decision gun rights were expanded in a nation with one of the highest rates of gun violence in the world. And six rightest radicals decide that separating church and state is no longer a good thing.

And now, if they haven't been persecuted enough already, conservative SCOTUS has decided to upend the lives of Native Americans. Here's how Nick Estes of the Guardian begins his article...
‘Kavanaugh’s words could have come from the most ardent anti-Indian racist of a bygone era. Asserting state criminal jurisdiction over Native lands has been a primary tactic of legally eliminating Native people.’
But first, some insight into the culture of America's Native Americans. I live in Arizona where there are 22 American Indian communities which accounts for one-quarter of state land. Their casinos are thriving here, however...
"The San Carlos Reservation is one of the poorest Native American communities in the United States, with an annual median household income of approximately $14,000 in 2000, according to the US Census."

But the San Carlos Reservation has the Apache Gold Casino & Resort on their land so where does that income go?...

"A portion of the gaming revenue gets shared with individuals in tribes where the casinos are located. The money also benefits communities — supporting education, buildings and services. And casinos also provide jobs in the thousands, although exactly how many is not clear." 
And how much is the U.S. tribal casino gaming revenue? A record $34.6 Billion in fiscal-year 2019, but apparently there was a slowdown during the Covid pandemic. Still, am I missing something or are we not getting the right information from the federal government? And what about state and federal taxes...
"Indian casinos do not pay a state tax as such, although the tribes pay the state and local governments a fee based on the casino revenue. Some tribes distribute a portion of the profits, also, in the form of a per capita payment. In those cases, tribal members pay federal taxes on their income."

So, where does all this money go and why is The San Carlos Reservation one of the poorest Native American communities in the United States, with an annual median household income of approximately $14,000 in 2000? That story in a later post because today our concern is what is a conservative SCOTUS going to do to the Native American nation in general? Here's a hint from an 1886 Supreme Court decision in United States v Kagama...

"Paradoxically, the court found that the very nation that waged wars of extermination and invasion against Native people also declared itself their sole guardian, protecting its “wards” from the “local ill feeling” of land-hungry whites flooding Native lands in the western states."

There's more...

"And where the US constitution was lacking in language defining federal authority over Native nations, the court had invented it, for better or for worse."

The Native Americans never had a chance. But the Kagama decision helped...

"That decision and others like it – however imperfect and drenched in conquest they were – supposedly shielded Native people and their reservations from the arbitrary authority of states and hostile white settlers."
And now back to Brett Kavanaugh who said, “A state has jurisdiction over all of its territory, including Indian country,” based on a "false 10th amendment claim, which doesn’t authorize states to intervene in tribal affairs." However, Kavanaugh's decision results in...
"States, according to this [Kavanaugh] extremist – and now dominant – view in the court, possess the authority to abolish and criminalize abortions, potentially curb voting rights and now abrogate treaties and redefine federal relations with Native nations."

As I said earlier, the cards were stacked in the favor of the federal government and the states from the beginning, and my guess is this outcome was always anticipated. But I don't want to end this on a putrid note of a radical conservative Supreme Court hell-bent on destroying our democracy and the U.S. in general, and although it will take time to neuter this band of lunatics, I'll end with an amazing story of the Native American participation in WWII.

As Navajo Code Talkers, they participated in all assaults the U.S. Marines led in the Pacific from 1942 to 1945 including Guadalcanal, Tarawa, Peleliu and Iwo Jima. This from the Arizona Republic, the Code Talkers transmitted messages by telephone and radio in their native language. This code was never broken by the Japanese, a miracle considering other means of secret messaging used by the Americans was often deciphered.

An Unbreakable Code...Inspiring description from former Navajo Code Talker...


Some quick facts: The Navajo Code Talkers originally numbered 29 but grew as the need arose; Many were wounded and many died; The Code talkers had the highest level of commitment in their duties, a part of their success; Native Americans serve in the military at five times the national average on a per-capita basis; and, only 3 Navajo Code Talkers remain. They are Peter MacDonald, John Kinsel, Sr., and Thomas H. Begay.

I could never describe the total contribution of the Navajo Code talkers to the Second World War and the United State of America, but if you are interested, there is a great book titled, Code Talker, by Chester Nez, one of the original Code Talkers. It is fascinating and I highly recommend it.

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