Friday, March 21, 2008

Indian nation

How is the Commonwealth like Indian Country (reservations)? How is it different?

I boarded this train of thought when I ran across an article on H.R. 5608, The Consultation and Coordination with Indian Tribal Governments Act. Rahall Introduces Bill Upholding Federal Trust Relationship with Indian Country (Native American Times)

We know what the federal government thinks: the CNMI is under the Office of Insular Affairs and not the Bureau of Indian Affairs. The National Indian Gaming Commission didn't jump in when yet another casino was proposed on Saipan; it left Rota and Tinian Casino proposals alone.

But the proposed government to government consultation? That sounds like Section 902 of The Covenant to Establish a Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands in Political Union with the United States of America. The Covenant, after all, is essentially a treaty.

Land alienation? Yup, very similar, except First American lands are really messed up. Technically, most of them are really owned ('held in trust') by the U.S. government.

Yet, I'm sure I remember articles from time to time that say the CNMI is eligible for some Indian grants and programs.

Really, I have no opinion on this. I'm just curious, and a little confused.

Oh, as an addon. How about these quotes from Indian Country Today?
Similarly, Native Hawaiians are beneficiaries of many congressional legislative acts along with American Indians and Alaska Natives. Yet, Native Hawaiians are not federally recognized as an ''Indian tribe'' the way that many Alaska Native villages are.

Should Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders, indigenous peoples from the Pacific territories, also be classified as ''Indian tribes'' for the purposes of the Constitution and law? Did the Constitution's framers mean ''indigenous peoples'' when they used the more politically, culturally and historically limited expression ''Indian tribes''?

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