Our friend Emilio Reyes, who had fought for years against the injustices of tribal disenrollment, lack of federal recognition and recently winning his legal battles against those who defamed him, had this thought recently on his Facebook page:
Everyone loves the Native who talks about tribal culture. But nobody loves the Native who talks about tribal identity, tribal disenrollment, tribal corruption, blood quantum, digging up the ancestors, Indian gaming, injustice or oppression.
Emilio's thought highlights a common phenomenon in which society tends to romanticize and exoticize certain aspects of Native American culture while ignoring or downplaying the very real and often difficult issues that Native Americans face today.
While it may be easier for some people to appreciate and enjoy aspects of Native American culture that seem distant and disconnected from contemporary issues, it is important to recognize that these issues continue to impact Native American communities in significant ways. Discussions about tribal identity, disenrollment, and corruption, for example, are often critical to understanding the complexities of Native American governance and the challenges that many tribes place themselves in navigating modern legal and political systems.
Issues related to blood quantum, ancestral remains, and Indian gaming are often deeply intertwined with questions of identity, sovereignty, and economic development, and can have far-reaching implications for the lives and wellbeing of Native American people. ALL NATIVE people.
If we truly want to support and celebrate Native American culture, we must be willing to engage with the difficult and often uncomfortable realities that accompany it. Those realities include the fact that some tribal leaders are corrupt, some tribes violate their own people's rights, and do it under the non caring eyes of the Federal Government. This also means listening to and amplifying the voices of Native people who are fighting for their rights, advocating for change, and working to preserve their traditions and heritage in the face of ongoing oppression and injustice.
Stay in the fight! We MUST persist: Change can be slow and difficult, and setbacks are common. Stay committed to the message and our goals, and continue to advocate for change even in the face of adversity. Remember that speaking truth to power is an ongoing process, and progress often requires sustained effort over time.