This West Is OUR West

Whose land is it? A look at native claims

January 29, 2017

By Elaine Willman

During the Vietnam War years I owned a lovely home on Stonybrook Drive in Anaheim, California. My children’s learning, memories, family traditions and life-experiences were forged in that home. My children were native to that soil. Although we had to move away and have been gone for many years, it was the homeland of our family origins.

Recently I realized how deep our family roots were in that Stonybrook home — our ancestral, indigenous origins, so to speak. I sorrowed over the loss and the need to recover that piece of history for my family’s future seven generations to come.

So I wrote the current owners, and explained the importance of that property to my family. I told them we wanted the home back, asked them to send me the title and make plans to move out. They told me to buzz off. A deal is a deal. And they were right to do so under our constitutional government, federal and state property laws. That is the case for all citizens in this country. A deal is a deal; you move on with time. Not so for American Indians.

Today, tribal voices inform our federal and state officials that their ancestors once walked through our forests, fished in our rivers, hunted in our hills, and they want their lands back for their seven generations to come. They assert aboriginal and time immemorial rights that pre-date the formation of the U.S. Constitution, government and country. They write letters to federal officials like I did to the current Stonybrook homeowners. The federal and state officials say, “Oh my, you’re right, we’ll get that land right back to you; we’ll move off current private landowners, we’ll deny American citizens the right to hunt and fish where you do; we’ll turn our national forests over to you for tribal management and hiring practices. Oh, and our taxpayers will keep funding all your tribe’s basic life needs forever, give you a monopoly on tax-exempt gambling, and allow your governments to be the only governments in the United States that can contribute money to candidates and political parties in our elections. You can buy our elected officials too, to give you even more. What else can we do for you?”

Oh, here’s more. In 2010 Congress just opened up the country’s power grid to you tribes, and funded billions for you to take over dams, water, utility and electric power systems across the country. And, you have no obligation to other Americans; you can’t be sued nor is any previous experience required. But no matter! Need more?

In 2012 Congress said you could long-term lease your federal trust lands to “religious” (Middle Eastern) countries. They have tons of money and want to position themselves across the U.S. — so that is another great opportunity.

This is exactly how aggressive tribal leaders of 0.5 percent of America’s population (enrolled tribal members) are rapidly reversing the settling of the West, replacing state authority and protections with tribal jurisdictions, and expanding tribal land bases far beyond reservations. While tribes can purchase elected officials and block-vote their members in elections, Congress remains their Santa Claus and lowly Americans of any other ethnicity are indentured servants — in perpetuity.

I’m not aware of any living Native Americans who are not currently assimilated. I don’t know an Indian that’s never been in a vehicle, used a telephone, television, enjoyed McDonald’s, put quarters in a slot machine, or received high-tech medical services. But hey, tribes want their Old Life Ways back, their “aboriginal” lands back.

They want America’s yesterday, today and tomorrow ... and 567 tribes are getting it done incrementally, and the process is accelerating every year.

Tribes are getting great support from environmentalists not fond of America, and have major resources available through the Indigenous Peoples Movement and other policies of the United Nations. While their governments fund America’s politicians and orchestrate block votes in local, state and federal elections, tribes have overwhelmed Washington, D.C., and dozens of state capitols as well. Note: we purchased their lands through treaties, and anything pre-constitutional or extra-constitutional is unconstitutional. If this is not true, America will soon be gone.

I don’t really want my home on Stonybrook Drive in Anaheim back. But I surely don’t want apartheid and purchased elected officials to take my country away either. Do you?

Willman, of Ronan, is the author of “Going to Pieces: The dismantling of the United States of  America” and “Slumbering Thunder: A primer for confronting the spread of federal Indian policy  and tribalism overwhelming America.”