After reading an article on the 2018 State of Indian Nations Speech over on Indian Country Today, I started to wonder if changes were finally coming to the reservations. This topic is the overarching issue facing Natives who were put onto reservations since whites conquered the lands now making up the United States. Reservations are glorified concentration camps, and much like the ghettos of Nazi Germany, they were created to spur on a final solution for the red problem. In fact, it was this model that inspired the Nazis. The ugly history of the United States gave them several points on which to draw their murderous plots.
Sadly, the greatness that the US could have had is indefinitely delayed for the future, as well. Yet, something in Jefferson Keel’s (President of the National Congress of the American Indians) words says that things are changing. I’m quite intrigued, if not feeling the tingle of hope. After all, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. History doesn’t bear out that change is actually on the way, or that it is beneficial to those who will be affected by it.
First of all, critical thought demands that we view the President Keel’s words with suspicion—suspicion that he’s blowing things up bigger than they are because, let’s face it, those he’s speaking to are hurting, and they could really use the boost. Without high morale, any hope of affecting change is lost. With high rates of depression and suicide, the fight for survival alone has taken its toll. Putting a positive spin on the outlook for tribes across the states is key, regardless of the actual weight behind the information.
I hope against hope that Keel isn’t puffing up. Conversely, I am saddened by the realization of how bad things truly are for a people oppressed for hundreds of years with no recourse. As a white person, it has taken years of peeling back the layers of propagandist history to discover the truth. There is so much to learn about the Native situation that it is overwhelming at times. However, I feel it is our duty to do so (for all minority’s sake).
I’d also like to highlight a section of the speech that mentioned buying American. You can’t get any more American than buying from Native industry, and they’re busting their asses to provide product and services to their customers. See below:
Keel lauded Indian nations as great agriculturists who have put food on Americans tables, builders of the infrastructure of America and innovators. Keel noted in Arizona, Native businesses generate hundreds of millions of tax dollars and pay 1.9 billion in wages to tens of thousands of Native and non-Native employees.
“In Mississippi, the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians provides 6,000 full-time jobs through its diverse array of businesses, more than half of which are held by non-Natives. It also has re-invested over $500 million of its profits in economic development projects across the state.
Not only do these jobs often pay more than other jobs, they’re not going anywhere. You’re never going to read about how they are being moved overseas. Because Native businesses don’t pull up stakes, even when market conditions change. We root our businesses in our local communities—for good.
You want to ‘Buy American’? Then do business with Indian Country,” said Keel to more applause.
I’d like to find a comprehensive list of these businesses and what they do, so I can share it with the public, and get the word out. Not only can we support American jobs through this, but we can help affect a positive change for those living on the Reservation who not only need it, but deserve it more than anyone within the US.