Resolution Memorializing the American Indian

STATE OF OKLAHOMA2nd Session of the 52nd legislature (2010)

HOUSE
RESOLUTION NO. —— By: Wesselhöft

AS INTRODUCED

A Resolution memorializing the American Indian, celebrating the annual Red Earth Day, supporting the Sovereignty Symposium, and commemorate the opening of Oklahoma’s premier Native American Cultural Center and Museum.

WHEREAS, American Indians long lived and prospered in organized societies, developing their own forms of government for millennia before contact with Europeans; and

WHEREAS, Native Americans have stewarded, protected and maintained a natural ecological balance on the North American continent for thousands of years; and

WHEREAS, tribal cultures demonstrated some of the basic democratic philosophies that would later be embodied in the United States Constitution; and

WHEREAS, we need to remember the contributions that our forefathers found here among the Native Americans and from which they borrowed liberally; and

WHEREAS, in colonial times, English legislation prohibited unauthorized confiscation of Indian land; and the Proclamation of 1763 appropriated the entire area west of the Appalachians to native Americans; and this policy was duly adopted by the United States; and

WHEREAS, when American Indians controlled the balance of power, first European settlers and later United States citizens were forced to consider their views, and to deal with them by treaties and other instruments; and

WHEREAS, when American Indians lost their power, they were forced by the Federal government into treaties which relinquished ownership to millions of acres of land and valuable natural resources. In exchange, the United States was to protect reserved lands, rights and resources as well as provide services to Indian people; and

WHEREAS, the Indian Removal Act of 1830 marked the beginning of a long series of coercive policies. During the westward expansion, many gruesome wars ensued and atrocities were committed by both Indians and white people; and

WHEREAS, some Indian tribes and many white people regrettably participated in the enslavement of African Americans and fought a great war to, among other issues, ensure such practices; and

WHEREAS, loosing their Civil War against the United States, some tribes regrettably lost further rights of sovereignty to certain lands; and

WHEREAS, by 1887 most Indians were forced on reservations, frequently lands which were strange to them; and

WHEREAS, the Federal government’s mistreatment of the First Peoples of this nation and destruction of traditional tribal communities and economies are among the most horrific stories in United States history; and

WHEREAS, the United States government’s Indian Reorganization Act of 1934 was a monumental step in establishing programs for the advancement of Native Americans; and

WHEREAS, citizens today regret the violence, maltreatment and neglect inflicted on Native Americans by former generations and seek Indian’s forgiveness for various injustices; and

WHEREAS, reconciliation and healing among all Americans is paramount and in the best interest of our United States; and

WHEREAS, the voices of tribal and spiritual elders in each generation reminded their people of their rightful roles and authorities as self-determining and self-governing Indian nations; and

WHEREAS, thankfully the red man endured—never as subdued in spirit as in body, and despite all the injustice and hardships, American Indian communities and cultures have survived and thrive today; and

WHEREAS, collectively Indian history is our history and should be part of our shared and remembered heritage; we should respect the aboriginal peoples and treasure the many contributions of their descendants; and

WHEREAS, when we forget great contributions to our American history—when we neglect the heroic past of the American Indian—we thereby weaken our own heritage; and

WHEREAS, American Indians are entitled to economic independence, revitalization of traditional culture, protection of legal rights and autonomy over tribal lands and nations; and

WHEREAS, every tribe and nation is special, contributing its own customs and culture and possessing its own traditions, storytelling, history, language, dress, powwows, and songs; and each tribe’s celebration of its culture is a kaleidoscope of feathers, jingle dresses, jewelry, buckskin, colorful shawls and blankets—all set to the rhythm of the same drum; and

WHEREAS, some American Indians have dark skin, others do not; some wear vestiges of their cultural or tribal apparel; others do not. Each American Indian is a unique individual and defies stereotyping or any single description; and

WHEREAS, the name “Oklahoma” literally means “red people” and Oklahoma has the second largest American Indian population of any state; and

WHEREAS, many of the 252,420 Native Americans living in Oklahoma today are descendants from the original sixty-seven tribes inhabiting Indian Territory; and

WHEREAS, thirty-nine of the American Indian tribes currently living in Oklahoma are headquartered in the state, more than any other state; and

WHEREAS, twenty-five tribal languages are still spoken in the state; and

WHEREAS, American Indian tribes in Oklahoma contribute 8 billion dollars annually to our state’s economy;

WHEREAS, chiefs, chairmen, governors and leaders from each tribal nation, as well as state leaders and federal officials meet annually in a Sovereignty Symposium, which is the only one of its kind in the United States. This Sovereignty Symposium brings leaders, Indian and non-Indian, together to work for a common cause, work to reach understandings on all sides of an issue and work to pool economic resources for a greater state; and

WHEREAS, to this day, Indian self-determination and self-government in Oklahoma and throughout the nation are strong; cultures and customs are preserved; factual history is told and taught; biographies are recorded for posterity; Native languages are instructed and passed on to new generations; arts and commerce are shared; seasonal ceremonies such as Red Earth Day are celebrated; and museums such as The Native American Cultural Center and Museum are built to provide volumes of history and literature to all and to house and preserve important paintings, sculpture, crafts and artifacts of the past and present;

NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED BY THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF THE 1ST SESSON OF THE 50TH OKLAHOMA LEGISLATURE:

THAT THE Oklahoma House of Representatives memorialize the American Indian, support the Sovereignty Symposium, celebrate Red Earth Day and commemorate the opening of Oklahoma’s premier Native American Cultural Center and Museum.

THAT a copy of this Resolution be presented to museums and distributed to the headquarters of every Indian tribe or nation in the state of Oklahoma.

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About Wesselhoft, Paul

Retired U.S. Army (Airborne Ranger) Chaplain; State Representative, Oklahoma House of Representatives; Representative, Citizen Potawatomi Nation.
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