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The 4th of July

We all know Independence Day is just around the corner. But I'm going to share with you a few things that you may not know.

The United States Government and the Constitution that we see today was based on observations by Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson of the Iroquois Confederacy. They were amazed at how disciplined and organized the Haudenosaunee People's government was.

The Haudenosaunee People ("People of the Longhouse") who made up the Iroquois Confederacy were the Oneida (On^yoteʔa∙ká - “People of the Standing Stone”), Mohawk (Kanien’kehá:ka - “People of the Flint”), Onondaga (Onoñda’gega’ - “People of the Hills”), Cayuga (Gayogo̱hó:nǫ’ - “People of the Great Swamp”), and Seneca (Onödowa’ga:’ - “People of the Great Hill”). After the Tuscarora (Skarù∙ręʔ - “People of the Shirt”) joined in 1722, the confederacy became known to the English as the Six Nations.

Did you know that the Declaration of Independence written in 1776 states: "...that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness."

One of the biggest parts of our history, most do not know... later in the document down from "all man are created equal", when referring to the King of Great Britain it states, "He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions."

In essence this document is not stating that all men are created equal. American Indians were not even considered United States Citizens until 1924. However, as citizens of the United States of America, and citizens (enrolled tribal members) from our own individual tribal nations we are considered to hold dual citizenship.

Federally recognized tribal nations are considered to be sovereign. What that means is that tribal nations have the authority to self-govern. They also have a formal nation-to-nation relationship with the US government, and with the responsibilities, powers, limitations, and obligations attached to that designation.

Today, tribal governments maintain the power to determine their own governance structures, pass laws, and enforce laws through police departments and tribal courts. They are also eligible for funding and services from the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

Between 1778 to 1871, when Congress ended the treaty-making period, the United States Senate ratified 370 treaties. At least 45 others were negotiated with tribes but were never ratified by the Senate.

These treaties and laws create what is known as the federal “trust responsibility,” to protect both tribal lands and tribal self-government, and to provide for federal assistance to ensure the success of tribal communities.

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