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Tim Giago: I'm not a racist and I haven't seen NMAI yet

"An email to me by a member of the Oneida Indian Nation of New York State conveyed a sense of pride and an admonishment to me for questioning the tribe I referred to as "Johnny-come-lately. The email proudly stated that there was a room at the new museum for the Oneida Nation.

Of course there�s a room for the Oneida. This casino rich Tribe had the money to donate $10 million to the construction of the museum and demanded a room to display their art, artifacts and history in payment for their generosity. The combined nine tribes of the Great Sioux Nation would�ve had a difficult time raising $10 thousand dollars. You can bet that there is no single room dedicated to them. Money talks, poverty walks.

Mark Brown, the leader of the Mohegans, wrote a scathing letter to a Connecticut newspaper accusing me of not knowing their history and worse yet, of being a racist. He was angry because in a previous column I mentioned I was surprised to see African American Indians amongst the tribes of Connecticut. Is the fact that I was surprised reason enough to be labeled as racist?

Well, it does bother me that the newborn tribes, by virtue of recent federal recognition, are raking in millions of dollars while the tribes such as those of the Great Sioux Nation, tribes that have been fighting for the past 100 years to gain the victories that now allow the Mohegans to enjoy their new wealth by virtue of geographical luck, are struggling to survive while the new ones roll in wealth."

Get the Story:
Tim Giago: Notes from Indian Country (The Native American Times 9/29)

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