86 years after the Indian Citizenship Act, indigenous communities are challenging the notion of what it is to be a U.S. citizen. In June of 1924 the U.S. Congress passed the Indian Citizenship Act. Controversial for its time, the Act recognized the citizenship of U.S. indigenous people.
Prior to 1924, individuals in the indigenous community were only granted citizenship if they served in the military, denounced tribal affiliations, or assimilated into American society. Those opposed to the 1924 Act wanted indigenous citizenship policies to remain the same however, and in some places inequality persisted. Until 1947 Native Americans did not have the right to vote in Arizona and New Mexico.
Now indigenous communities organize alongside immigrant rights supporters in Arizona to oppose nativist laws.
In an April 24 letter to governor Jan Brewer, Robert Warrior, the Osage president of the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association states,
“S.B. 1070 will have tremendous negative impacts on indigenous people on both sides of the border between the United States and Mexico, and it ought to go without saying that some of the people most impacted by this invidious law are descended from peoples who lived in the Sonoran Desert centuries before anyone even thought of the United States. Regardless of proximity or descent, though, the new law is morally wrong and panders to the worst currents in U.S. politics.”
He continues to say in an interview “For those of us who are U.S. citizens, a law like this provides an opportunity to oppose the worst currents of U.S. political life and to stand in solidarity with those whose human rights are violated in the name of security.”
More recently, the indigenous community in Arizona made one of the boldest statements against SB 1070 when the First Nation and migrants teamed up to occupy the Border Patrol Headquarters in Tucson, Arizona. Over a dozen protesters occupied the building, calling on the State of Arizona to repeal the racist Senate Bill 1070, end border militarization and respect the dignity of all people.
By struggling alongside those whose status is defined by racist laws, indigenous communities have not forgotten the hardships they have had to overcome in the past and that persist today. They remind us that citizenship has many definitions and shouldn’t be decided by just those in power.
86 years ago natives to America became citizens. Their voices should be a moral compass as we create a national identity that stretches beyond our current boundaries of citizenship.
(via Imagine2050.com Blog)