What we owe the Indigenous

September 4, 2020

As we look back into history—and understand the manifestations the global imperial and colonial eras had on subsequent nation-building—we begin to understand more about the political power dynamics currently at play. The majority of countries within Latin America have populations of mixed African, Native and European ancestry as a direct result of European colonization and their creation of the Atlantic Slave Trade. This era of colonization essentially redefined society on all aspects for Native populations through forced religion, racial hierarchies and political systems created by and for white men, which then permeated through to today’s society. 

Colonization, and its effect on Latin American economic and political structure being intrinsically tied to forming a cash-crop state that “serves” its colonizers, is the exact reason why multinational corporations have been and were able to monopolize off of Latin American states in the 20th and 21st centuries and drive nearly every nation to a position of Western dependency. It also is exactly the reason why Central American states are riddled with corruption and a mass imbalance of capability on the part of the state government, as it was never designed to produce a society that did not allow for racial inequalities or an exploitation of masses. 

American’s relationship with its Indigenous populations is even more grossly complex.

The land where we all exist on, in the United States of America, belongs, if ever to a

single entity, the Indigenous populations that have natively populated it. Consequently, it was up to the diplomatic systems of the time to properly ensure adherence to treaties and the legal

creations of land rights to Indigenous populations. Evidently, due to the notions of white supremacy, such respect was not afforded to Native peoples. 

The resources which we benefit from, our water reservoirs from lakes and rivers, our vegetable crops in the Midwest, the oil found throughout these states, are all existing within systems of distribution that have been created without the consent of Native people. Such a notion is imperative as our judicial systems look into erring on the wrongs of our past and our legislative system looks to protect the rights of those in the present and future.

The Supreme Court’s recent ruling that much of Oklahoma belongs to Indigenous

populations is but one instance of a reversal and exposure of the abuses the United States

government has actualized in its history against Native peoples. Essentially, it further highlights that the socio-economic disparities between Indigenous populations and American citizens are due entirely to the forced restrictions of Native life through the abuse, exploitation and silencing of Indigenous people. Considering that such a treaty exists legally, yet Tulsa, Oklahoma’s capital, was allowed to be constructed right on Native land only points out the fact that the United States government has historically gone back on its promises to Indigenous people and continuously works to disadvantage their resources without concern. 

It is important to take this ruling as evidence in support of the struggle of Native peoples that this nation stands and exists only in direct conjunction with the oppression of Indigenous people. As a result, a precedent should be set totaling favor towards the reversal of land to Indigenous populations as a means to inherently de-colonize these lands and actively work to re-distribute resources and wealth to such regions.

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