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Myths About Indians

“Our” Indians are unique.

The flip side of the "all Indians are alike" myth is the notion that Indians in a certain state or region are “unique” or “different” from Native Americans generally. This phrase typically comes from politicians, bureaucrats and economic interests who prefer not to accept the tenets of American Indian law, particularly with regard to the authority of tribal governments. People from states like California, Oklahoma, and the northern tier states from the Dakotas to Washington, are most likely to claim this. These states, not coincidentally, have been litigious against Indians in the past. In some areas “anti-Indian” groups have promoted the notion that Indians should be treated the same as all Americans. On one hand, this sounds right to democratic ears. Most often, however, it really is a disguised attempt to remove Indians’ property rights and special relationship to the U.S. government. In areas, such as Oklahoma, people will say, “Our Indians are different because we don’t have ‘reservations’”. Yet, because of the allotment policy promoted in the last decades of the 19th century, which divided Indian lands into parcels for adult males and declared all remaining lands “surplus,” nearly all Indian reservations have been “allotted.” See discussion article about “Indian Country.” Like nationalities throughout the world, individual Indian nations (including Alaska Native communities) are distinct while sharing many similarities with each other.
Kirke Kickingbird

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