Reflections from the Ah­nish­i­nah­bæójib­way (We, the People)


A Political Forum
June 8, 1988

A Right to Know

Brad Swenson, in his Sunday June 12 Bemidji Pioneer article, labelled the Ojibway People for Justice, “protestors.”  He says, “30 to 50 protestors don’t represent the MCT’s (Minnesota Chippewa Tribe’s) 36,000 enrollees.”  These “protestors” are standing up for the fundamental rights that were given to them by the Creator, and which Indian people have exercised responsibly for hundreds of thousands of years.  Under the 1934 Indian Reorganization Act (every Indian Reservation has the same I.R.A. boilerplate Constitution written by Whites to steal from Indians), the United States is using five men to sell rights.  Only an acculturated Indian would listen to a crooked White man, and try to sell another Indian’s rights, and only an acculturated Indian would believe that he had the authority to sell another Indian’s rights.  Five Indians, part of the 1934 I.R.A. colonial government, are trying to sell everybody’s rights.  Fifty people are protesting that they don’t want to sell any Ojibway Indian’s hunting and fishing rights.  In the Indian way, every person is Sovereign, and no person can speak for another.  Nobody can sell anything that belongs to other people.

As Chief Joseph of the Nez Perces tribe explained, “Suppose a white man should come to be and say, ‘Joseph, I like your horses, and I want to buy them.’  Then, he goes to my neighbor, and says to him: ‘Joseph has some good horses.  I want to buy them, but he refuses to sell.’  My neighbor answers, ‘Pay me the money, and I will sell you Joseph’s horses.’  The white man returns to me and says, ‘Joseph, I have bought your horses, and you must let me have them.’  If we sold our lands to the government, this is the way they were bought.”  This is the way that the State of Minnesota is trying to “buy” Indian rights.

According to the U.S. Constitution, the State of Minnesota cannot make Treaties to buy rights from Indians, only a National government can make Treaties.  If the United States Government, the Canadian Government, or some other Government wants to buy rights, they can buy them by Treaty from the Traditional Indian Governments of the Ojibway Nations. For these Traditional Governments to sell these rights, they would have to have the consensus of EVERY Indian.  Any individual Indian, no matter what position the United States Government “recognizes” him as holding, can sell only those rights which belong to him personally.  If five Indians sold their rights for five million dollars, then these rights, according to the State of Minnesota, are worth one million dollars per Indian.

If five Indians sold their rights, then there are five Indian millionaires.  But, the White legislatures made several billions of dollars out of the deal (not counting the underlying minerals that they aren’t taking about).  Also, whether on or off of the Reservation, Indian people are paying the Minnesota taxes that subsidize buying our rights.  We are also paying more than 99.9% of our Trust property and trust funds back to the U.S. Government, which takes it and spends it without our consent.  Once again, the Whites are cheating the Indians, even if there are five Indian millionaires.  In the old days, just Whites came out of Indian country as millionaires from stolen Indian property.  Times must be changing—now acculturated indians also can be millionaires stealing from their Traditional brothers and selling out to their greedy White friends.

There is a White law on the books of the State of Minnesota about buying and receiving stolen property.  The five Indians sold stolen property, and the State of Minnesota legislature bought it.  So both sides are guilty of committing a felony under Minnesota law.  There is also a law against Fencing”—that’s what the shyster lawyers for the Tribal Council are doing.  The referendum doesn’t give Indian consent, because it’s a “heads I win, tails you lose” proposition.  (As former Secretary McKay said, Indian consent sets a “dangerous precedent.”)

 Francis Blake, Jr.



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