What self-determination is all about

My turn

Posted: Wednesday, January 17, 2001

In response to the letter, "State/Tribal talks collapse over wording in accord," that appeared in the Empire Dec. 4, the following comments by-pass Tlinget/Haida Central Council:

Surely no one, other than Natives, question the governor's business credibility in government and his generous political ability he used defending the sovereign status of state government. Of course, this was demonstrated the way he handled the Katie John case in the court of law. But this political ability leaves a big question mark about his dream draft document called the millennium agreement, intended to shape this government relationship agreement he wants. A dream that cost the state $1 million earlier.

Our concern should be that the majority of Native delegates, who favor it, prevail and accept these tricky draft document they would have yielded our tribal status over to state government unjustified. Depriving Natives freedom to activate self-determination law and civil rights that we celebrate each year. This is what the governor is asking Natives with this dream draft document, that favors the state. Let's wise up and quit compromising things tied to our birthright and heritage, which is worth life itself.

Perhaps the majority of Native delegates have forgotten we still have 1971 ANCSA to deal with. Have they forgotten the state used this law as a political tool to overpower our quest to secure our independence and tribal status? What about Native dignity, individual pride and self-respect? ANCSA is a law that characterizes a certain men who can't tell the big difference between the last rites and the blessing. That is if we post up one charter of extinguishment now instead of two charters of freedom. The blessing! Are we about to betray ourselves again? Perhaps the next time the delegates meet, they will answer this tough question.

Basically, not all 227 tribes involved have similar government role models. For instance, we have our ancient old Tlingit/Haida confederate union that has occupied Southeast Alaska for centuries. Why should we let this draft document reduce its sovereign status? Dealing with each tribe on a singular basis is just another way of extinguishing the powers of Native sovereignty. Perhaps our Native delegates who feel we do not qualify self-determination is OK too. But they must provide evidence as proof to show we are no longer part of the human race that occupies planet Earth.

Maybe most T/H citizens have not forgotten what our colorful Chilkat/Blanket really represents. It will pay our confused tribal delegates political dividends to know the one with the killer whale design, done by a Native artist, which symbolizes two charters of freedom. Similar to the one at the Federal Building, it represents our independence and the "Great Law of Peace" seated within our T/H confederate union. A law that can be viewed as a just constitution of checks-balance type of government it formed. In fact, in the eyes of this law this draft document is out of order and unacceptable without its acceptance and participation. These are basic things that make up our tribal status within the ancient monarchy that we have had for centuries. In a sense, the federally recognized tribes have federal government to make up flavor and nothing more.

Basically the work behind this confederation describes what self-determination is all about. Why should we settle for fake government to government relationship and yield our tribal status over to the state instead? Let's not forget the creed our ancestors passed down, the beliefs, our tribal land ownerships, and our hunting and fishing rights we exercise, are gifts and blessings given mankind by God. The creator of the universe and planet Earth. A sacred creed that still serves as our Native culture rug and as just powers of our own government for centuries. It defines the law of liberty, the element of freedom.

Perhaps this unique confederation was set up around 5,000 years ago when the exciting Halibut Comet streaked across the spring, summer and autumn skies. A time the man Moses could have been studying at the learning center called "Sun Temple" in Egypt, one who led his own enslaved people out of tough political bondage. In fact, this school is considered the Oxford University of the ancient day and time. The history of how he succeeded is written in the pages of the Old Testament specifically the Book of Deuteronomy. This, and the story about Christmas, including the creed in our 1776 Independence document, will also help Natives come out of this political bondage and confusion. Faith was his strength and it still works today. In fact, our creator, God, is not the author of confusion. He is the one in whom we place our trust.

Franklin "Shkane" Williams Sr. of Juneau is a member of Kaach-Adi Nation and Raven Clan.

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