Many people are unaware, but within the United States there are three kinds of sovereign governments. There’s the federal government; the states; and Indian tribes. Tribal governments have existed for thousands of years, and today they continue to influence and guide decisions in a wide range of policy areas. Tribes help to protect the environment and preserve ecosystems; they make decisions about land use and economic development; they write laws and run justice systems which blend traditional practices with modern technology. Tribal governments do a lot of work to help their citizens and everyone else in America. Yet they could be doing much more. Too often, tribal sovereignty is limited or ignored by state and federal actors. The Standing Rock pipeline is a clear recent example of this, but similar stories happen all around the country, and in all sorts of issue areas. We need to respect and empower tribal governments, in order to give them the tools they need to help solve the problems that we all face. In addition, many Native people (whether enrolled tribal citizens or not) face structural problems related to racism and colonialism. Native Americans (including Alaskan natives, native Hawaiians, and other Pacific Islanders) face very high rates of diabetes, are more likely to be affected by water pollution, and are disproportionately likely to be shot by police. We need broad, societal answers to these problems for all people, but we also need to be sure that these solutions respect the cultures and sovereignties of indigenous Americans.
Support politicians who support broad Native sovereignty and efforts to address Native-specific and tribal concerns.
A special election will be held for State Representative of the Pennsylvania District 197 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on March 21st 2017. Cheri Honkala (G) will be promoted by Concepts Forward as she has fought for many causes including the resistance against the DAPL and the preservation of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe's people and land. Cheri pictured to the right being arrested for protest.
Photo by Erik McGregor