Opinion: Native Americans continue to fight for their sovereignty
"On Tuesday, the Shinnecock Indian Nation was notified that they will become the 565th federally recognised tribal government. Recognition brings major bonuses, most importantly the right for the nation to set up its own casino similar to the enterprises that have brought prosperity to other Native groups. This brings the possibility of economic self-sufficiency for the tribe, which, despite previous investments in oyster farming and tourism ventures, remains a pocket of extreme poverty amid the wealth of their neighbours in the Hamptons. Shinnecock leader Lance Gumbs announced the tribe's intention to go "after everything we are entitled to".

This week, the Iroquois Nationals lacrosse team found their right to travel on Haudenosaunee passports challenged. Britain denied them visas to attend the world championships in Manchester, after the US state department refused to confirm that they would be permitted to re-enter the USA.

This is only the latest occasion that the Haudenosaunee (also known as the Six Nations), who have never accepted citizenship in either the US or Canada, have suffered attempts to deny their right to travel using their own documents. Previously, a group of three Kahnawa'kehró:non were held for a fortnight in San Salvador in a standoff with the US and Canadian authorities, who would only permit them to return to their homes if they took up the offer of temporary passports issued by one of the two countries – in other words, if they allowed themselves to be (if for a moment) colonised against their will.

Haudenosaunee passports date back to 1923, when Deskaheh (Levi General) travelled to Geneva to formally apply for his people to become members of the League of Nations. Their use has been permitted by various governments for more than 30 years. In the current case, although Hillary Clinton has intervened to change the US policy, the British government has refused to accept their documents. The team awaits the final outcome.

Looking at these cases side by side, it is tempting to call one a victory, and one a (probable) defeat for the cause of Native American self-determination. However, both stories are a little more complicated, and both expose the vicious ironies attendant on the position of indigenous peoples."

Get the Story:
James Mackay: Native Americans should not have to earn sovereignty (The Guardian 7/16)

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