One of my great, great grandmothers was a full blood Creek Indian, living, inappropriately, in Indian Territory. Her tribe had been forcefully driven there at bayonet point by the United states Army. Thousands of men, women, and children of all ages died on what came to be known as the Trail of Tears.
I inherited from my long ago grandmother the abilities to get a great tan and to blend in. Growing up in Oklahoma, I was surrounded by members of dozens of various Indian tribes. A few were “local” tribes, but most were “foreign” tribes from all over the continent. Really strange and diverse places like Arizona, the Dakotas, Florida, Mississippi, Kansas, and Illinois. Many were my classmates.
I saw and experienced far less racial bigotry, discrimination, and animosity growing up there, than I have seen or experienced in California, New Mexico and Washington state. In these other states, I lived right next door to various Indian Reservations for extended periods of time.
I learned by hard “boots on the ground” experience that separation by law, whether on racial, religious or ethnic grounds, does not work for anyone.
We humans naturally separate ourselves far too easily along too many silly and irrelevant lines, like economics, as it is without the force of law to encourage this inappropriate, antisocial behavior.
I believe that ethnic Hawaiians, who are considering organizing as an Indian tribe should the Akaka Bill pass the Congress, will be extremely ill served by such a move.
I invite those who feel differently, without the real life experience, to go to the mainland and observe the truth about living conditions on, in, and around real Native American Indian Reservations.
Go to the Pine Ridge, the Tulalip, the Warm Springs, the Coachella, the Hopi, the Navaho, and the Apache Reservations and keep your ears and eyes open. Look at the real numbers and then come home to Hawaii and preach the truth.
In the end, the people born here are Hawaiians by birth, no matter the color of their skin.
Other residents in Hawaii arriving by ship, or plane, who live here, pay income taxes here, spend their incomes here, have Hawaiian identification and vote in State and national elections here are also Hawaiian by the only measures that make sense.
The only “tribe” that meets the Federal legal definition of a tribe in Hawaii, is my tribe: “The Hawaiian Malihini Tribe.” We are the only “tribe” that, by default, accepts everyone.
”’George Wallace is a Native American living in Ocean View on the Big Island of Hawaii. He can be reached via email at mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org”’
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