Ray Wahnihtiio Cook: Oneida Nation sovereignty lives in people
In Iroquois culture, and history for that matter, we have always believed that sovereignty lies in the heart of all human kind. Individuals are sovereign and it is the people’s Will that bestows sovereignty on any clan or nation government.

So to say the Oneida Nation does not have sovereignty because of the actions of one man is unheard of here. And therefore, sovereignty does not come from any external force or government, be they the Grand Council of the Haudenosaunee or the Unites States of America’s Bureau of Indian Affairs.

Having lived and worked among the Oneida for eleven years I can attest that there certainly is a traditional council that governs the Oneida people’s affairs. The Clan Mother system and the Council of Men, does exist just as they do in every other Iroquois community. And the Oneida people direct their government through these two portals.

The effort to thwart Oneida sovereignty is led by Doug George. Regrettably he once convinced the wise men of the Onondaga Nation to represent themselves as the Grand Council in front of Ada Deer, then Director of the BIA and attempted to convince her that Ray Halbritter is not a popularly supported leader of the Oneida Nation. If he is not popularly supported how is it he still remains their representative?

The Onondaga Council of Men had since regretted being guided by George in this most embarrassing effort. No traditional representative had never before and has never since approached the BIA to support their self governing efforts.

The Canandaigua Treaty is a birthright to all Iroquois people, no matter their religion, their location or their choice of leadership.

Shame on Doug George, who on the one hand puts himself up as a Iroquois Patriot and at the same time works to over throw a popularly supported Oneida government that is completely compliant to the foundations of our Haudenosaunee traditions and worthy of the title of Nation.

Mohawk artist John Thomas once said, “A Nation are a people just trying to get along." Mr. George, the Oneida Nation are a people, not just one man. Maybe your time would be better focused on the people and not on a person.

Raymond Wahnihtiio Cook is a Mohawk Nation citizen, Marine Corps vet 75-77. He is a co-founder of the Native American Journalist Association, former typesetter and layout producer for Akwesasne Notes, co-founder of the Indian Time newspaper, founder of Akwesasne Freedom Radio, co-founder of the Associated Indigenous Communications. He serves as an audio producer for Indigenous People’s Network, associate editor of the Northeast Indian Quarterly, and as editor and producer of Indian Country Today’s Headline News and Indian Country Today Editorial audio podcasts.

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