Monday, January 22, 2007



Part one

Indian Civil Rights Act of 1968 (25 U.S.C. §§ 1301-03)
§ 1301. Definitions
For purposes of this subchapter, the term -
1. ''Indian tribe'' means any tribe, band, or other group of Indians subject to the jurisdiction of the United States and recognized as possessing powers of self-government;
2. ''powers of self-government'' means and includes all governmental powers possessed by an Indian tribe, executive, legislative, and judicial, and all offices, bodies, and tribunals by and through which they are executed, including courts of Indian offenses; and means the inherent power of Indian tribes, hereby recognized and affirmed, to exercise criminal jurisdiction over all Indians;
3. ''Indian court'' means any Indian tribal court or court of Indian offense.
§ 1302. Constitutional rights
No Indian tribe in exercising powers of self-government shall -
1. make or enforce any law prohibiting the free exercise of religion, or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and to petition for a redress of grievances;
2. violate the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable search and seizures, nor issue warrants, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched and the person or thing to be seized;
3. subject any person for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy;
4. compel any person in any criminal case to be a witness against himself;
5. take any private property for a public use without just compensation;
6. deny to any person in a criminal proceeding the right to a speedy and public trial, to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation, to be confronted with the witnesses against him, to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and at his own expense to have the assistance of counsel for his defense;
7. require excessive bail, impose excessive fines, inflict cruel and unusual punishments, and in no event impose for conviction of any one offense any penalty or punishment greater than imprisonment for a term of one year and [1] a fine of $5,000, or both;
8. deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of its laws or deprive any person of liberty or property without due process of law;
9. pass any bill of attainder or ex post facto law; or
10. deny to any person accused of an offense punishable by imprisonment the right, upon request, to a trial by jury of not less than six persons.
§ 1303. Habeas corpus
The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall be available to any person, in a court of the United States, to test the legality of his detention by order of an Indian tribe.

The first law of a chief is to feed the people. Chiefs were trained, spiritually, physically, emotionally and mentally. They had to be able to get a salmon, deer, or whale. They had to know how to bring it home. Then they had to be able to clean and butcher it. Then they had to know how to cook it. Finally a chief has to be humble enough to serve it to his people. No man can call himself a chief until he can do all those things.

Tribal chairmen/women are not trained. They may have a degree in business administration. Most lack the spiritual training. Many have not undergone a healing for the generations of genocide that we have endured. Internalized oppression is a symptom of that genocide.

Two of the most abused programs in a corrupt Tribal regime are Indian Child Welfare and Housing. You must be quiet and do as your told or you will lose your children and your home.

There was a time when business was conducted by the whole community. If someone had to go to a meeting, a hat was passed to collect the travel money. Everyone contributed. That person reported to the community what happened at the meeting he or she attended. Issues were discussed and everyone had a say.

I used to go with my Dad to the Tribal meetings. What I loved were the stories used to open the meetings. One old man would tell the creation story. Another would tell how the Elwha village came to be.

In another village there was a man with a deep voice. He couldn't speak softly. His voice would boom across the waters like a foghorn. Everyone made fun of him. Their laughter peeled the skin from his arms. He took his family and moved to the mouth of the Elwha River. His descendants are the Elwha, "The Deep-Voiced People." They are sensitive, quick to anger and fight.

Another old man would tell of the white man. He was few in numbers at first, seeking and friendly. As their numbers grew they became more bold. One night as the Elwha slept, white men broke into their longhouses and began shooting. The survivors ran. They sought refuge with relatives from other Tribes.

Those murderers wanted to be farmers. They assumed that the Elwha valley would be fertile and would produce many crops. The Elwha river meaders. It constantly changes course. The whole valley is sand and clay and river rocks. This is fishing country, not farmland.

Those failed farmers sold the stolen land to the United States Government for the landless Indians, so they could have homes. That stolen land, that old village site became the Elwha reservation.

The story of the treaty was told. Those first white men came as drops. Now we were engulfed in a flood. There were forts and soldiers to protect the invaders. The white man's government was divided. They were getting ready to fight each other in a civil war. Troops would be pulled from the local forts.

The US government sent Washington Territory Governor Stevens to make peace treaties with the Tribes. They wanted to ensure the safety of the white people when the soldiers were withdrawn. In return they promised many things.

Our Ancestors secured the right to continue our place in the circle of life. We are fishermen, hunters and gatherers. We agreed to allow the white men who remained to fish and hunt for their subsistence unharmed.

They drew lines around the land that would confine us. They promised housing and education. The Chiefs made an X next to their names on a piece of paper. The white men packed up their papers and left.

Paper meant nothing. Our Ancestors had moved a big rock to the place the treaty was signed. It was placed there to witness and remember the words said that day. A Coast Guard Base now sits on the site. The Daughters of the American Revolution decided to honor the Treaty Rock. It now has a plaque and a white picket fence around it. It vibrates with power and honor and anger.

We didn't have a Tribal Center when I was a child. Important meetings were held in the one church on the reservation. I would go with my Dad to those meetings to hear those stories told. I never tired as they told them at each meeting. I would sit in the back pew and pretend to read the bible and song books that were in the back of the seat in front of me.

The Business Committe does not tell the stories of our people. They follow Robert's Rules of Order. Tribal business today is not connected to our history. That Treaty Rock remembers the vows of the white man and our Chiefs. Could a chairperson or councilperson stand in front of that rock and say, "I am still feeding The People."

We went to court in the 1970's to secure our treaty right to fish, to force the State and Federal Governments to live up to their word. Are we still bound by the vows and practices of our Ancestors or are we finally white men too? Are we individual citizens now or are we still Tribal, a part of the Whole?

The Treaty promised us housing and education. You see those programs being abused. Students who are related to Business Committee members or who come from big families will get services. It is that way in all the programs.

The Elders Program serves a select few. Many in need are ignored. The trips and goodies are for the same people over and over again. Jobs are political appointments, usually to buy votes. They are not to provide services to The People.

Last fall approximately 70 Tribal members received eviction notices from the Tribal HUD housing program. The Tribe is violating our own Treaty by this travesty. Is this the action of a Chief or a corrupt politician?

We hear stories from other reservations of Tribal members being tazered for singing and praying in public. Teenagers are harrassed and beaten for being in large groups. Where are they supposed to go?

Children from all reservations are being abused. They are beaten and raped. If the perpetrator is a person of power that crime is ignored despite all the laws to protect them.

What happened to our teaching that children are sacred? Children and elders are sacred because they are closest to the Spirit world. A child is not bound to this earth until after he is ten years old. He can decide to die and leave this world without harming his soul. Is that what crib deaths are? Did those souls decide that the world we are providing is too harsh?

Our Elders are preparing to leave this world. They are changing and are in a sacred state. They stop eating, to cleanse their body for the next journey. They will only eat their favorite foods until they get their fill. We see Elders at our Traditional Foods dinners who have lost their appetites for the white man's food. They will eat with great relish a fish head. That is the food most asked for at dinners. Sometimes you will see a younger more modern Indian watching them in horror.

When did we forget that our children and Elders are sacred? When did we stop honoring our Chief's vows to feed The People. When did we start taking for ourselves first and start taking care of those who will vote for us?

When did Tribal Governments become a replica of a corrupt US government? Where did our honor go and how do we get it back?