Reckoning and Reconciliation on the Great Plains: Healing Historical Harm Caused by Conquest and Colonialism
Echo-Hawk is President of the Pawnee Nation Business Council. He is an author, attorney, and and well-renowned legal scholar. A Pawnee Indian with a BA, Political Science, Oklahoma St. Univ. (1970) and JD, UNM (1973), he practices law in Oklahoma.
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[00:00:07.043]you are part of an important conversation,
[00:00:08.910]about our shared future.
[00:00:10.868]The E.N. Thompson Forum on World Issues,
[00:00:13.480]explores the diversity of viewpoints
[00:00:15.660]on international and public policy issues
[00:00:18.270]to promote understanding and encourage debate,
[00:00:21.070]across the university and the state of Nebraska.
[00:00:24.500]Since its inception in 1988,
[00:00:27.420]hundreds of distinguished speakers have challenged
[00:00:30.060]and inspired us making this forum,
[00:00:33.680]one of the preeminent speaker series in higher education.
[00:00:38.720]It all started when E.N. Jack Thompson,
[00:00:41.673]imagine a forum on global issues
[00:00:44.610]that would increase Nebraska's understanding
[00:00:46.880]of cultures and events from around the world.
[00:00:50.070]Jack's perspective was influenced by his travels,
[00:00:53.480]his role in helping to found the United Nations
[00:00:56.270]and his work
[00:00:57.103]at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
[00:01:01.410]As president of the Cooper Foundation in Lincoln,
[00:01:04.410]Jack pledged substantial funding to the forum
[00:01:07.600]and the University of Nebraska
[00:01:09.410]and Lied Center for Performing Arts,
[00:01:11.730]agreed to co-sponsor.
[00:01:13.920]Later Jack and his wife Katie,
[00:01:16.160]created the Thompson Family Fund
[00:01:18.730]to support the forum and other programs.
[00:01:22.930]major support is provided by the Cooper Foundation,
[00:01:27.210]Lied Center for Performing Arts
[00:01:29.290]and University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
[00:01:32.140]We hope this talk sparks an exciting conversation among you.
[00:01:38.780]And now on with the show.
[00:01:58.273]to the E.N. Thompson Forum on World Issues' third event
[00:02:01.230]this season and the kickoff event
[00:02:03.680]for the Center for Great Plains Studies Summit,
[00:02:06.640]Reckoning, and Reconciliation on the Great Plains.
[00:02:10.130]I'm Margaret Jacobs,
[00:02:11.480]a professor of history
[00:02:12.900]and director of the Center for Great Plains Studies.
[00:02:15.870]I'm pleased to welcome all of you,
[00:02:18.180]those of you watching virtually as well as those of you
[00:02:21.510]who could join us here at the Lied Center this evening.
[00:02:26.530]the Thompson Forum has brought us critical thinkers,
[00:02:30.050]policy makers and leaders who are shaping our global society
[00:02:34.300]to discuss issues that affect us all.
[00:02:37.380]We are very grateful to the Cooper Foundation,
[00:02:40.270]which provides the major funding for the forum
[00:02:43.600]to the late Jack Thompson,
[00:02:45.460]who conceived of this series and to the Thompson Family,
[00:02:49.330]for their continued support.
[00:02:52.020]We would also like to acknowledge
[00:02:53.570]the Lied Center for Performing Arts for their support
[00:02:57.143]and the university honors program
[00:02:59.410]for their partnership on this evening's event.
[00:03:02.210]And thank you to our media sponsor, KZUM.
[00:03:06.410]The Center for Great Plain Studies,
[00:03:08.040]would also like to thank Humanities Nebraska,
[00:03:11.740]the University of Nebraska at Kearney
[00:03:14.490]and the many entities at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln
[00:03:17.750]that you see on screen.
[00:03:20.890]I would now like to introduce Kevin Abourezk,
[00:03:24.120]a citizen of the Rosebud Lakota Nation.
[00:03:27.800]Kevin Abourezk is an award winning journalist
[00:03:30.963]who spent 18 years as a reporter and editor
[00:03:34.700]for the "Lincoln Journal Star,"
[00:03:36.400]where he wrote thousands of stories
[00:03:39.310]and produceD numerous news videos.
[00:03:41.710]He is the winner
[00:03:42.543]of the Associated Press's Best Enterprise Story Award
[00:03:46.240]in 2006 and the prestigious,
[00:03:49.330]Casey Medals for Meritorious Journalism,
[00:03:52.310]from the Casey Journalism Center on Children and Families
[00:03:56.160]for his reporting on the impact of alcohol sales
[00:03:59.960]in Whiteclay, Nebraska to residents
[00:04:02.670]of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota.
[00:04:06.850]Kevin Abourezk has spent his career documenting the lives,
[00:04:10.580]accomplishments and tragedies of native American people.
[00:04:14.960]In 2017, he joined Indianz.Com, Indians with a Z,
[00:04:21.330]a native American news website,
[00:04:23.330]owned and operated by the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska,
[00:04:26.970]where he is the managing editor.
[00:04:29.970]Kevin Abourezk holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English
[00:04:32.720]from the University of South Dakota
[00:04:34.310]and a Master of Arts Degree in Professional Journalism
[00:04:37.180]from the University of Nebraska here in Lincoln.
[00:04:40.240]We are very please to have Kevin,
[00:04:42.030]perform a land acknowledgement ceremony
[00:04:44.340]and introduce our speaker Walter Echo-Hawk.
[00:04:56.210]Thank you, Dr. Jacobs.
[00:04:58.930]Greetings, I am joining you today from Lincoln Nebraska.
[00:05:02.720]A land acknowledgement is a formal recognition
[00:05:05.940]of the indigenous tribal nations,
[00:05:07.970]as the original stewards of the land.
[00:05:11.790]It is a sign of respect and gratitude
[00:05:14.440]for the ongoing relationship between tribal nations
[00:05:17.910]and the land.
[00:05:20.430]A land acknowledgement works to undo
[00:05:22.430]the racism of the past hundreds of years.
[00:05:26.350]I would like to acknowledge the ancestral present
[00:05:28.770]and future homelands of indigenous tribal nations
[00:05:31.990]and peoples upon which the University of Nebraska Lincoln
[00:05:37.610]The university spans across several areas.
[00:05:40.400]I am honored to include our original stewards of the land,
[00:05:43.370]especially UNL works in gratitude,
[00:05:46.430]as it strives to develop positive ongoing relationships
[00:05:50.750]to our indigenous tribal nations
[00:05:52.670]and the rich tribal diversity in the State of Nebraska.
[00:05:58.673]there are four federally recognized tribes in Nebraska,
[00:06:03.350]the Omaha Tribe or Umonhon,
[00:06:06.120]Ponca Tribe, Santee Sioux Nation or Isanti
[00:06:10.570]and the Winnebago Tribe or Ho-Chunk.
[00:06:13.930]We also recognize the territorial lands
[00:06:16.260]of the Pawnee, Oto-Missouria, Lakota, Arapaho, Tsistsistas
[00:06:22.460]and Suhtai or Cheyenne,
[00:06:25.146]Kaw peoples or Kansa, Ioway and Sac and Fox peoples.
[00:06:31.710]This season's theme,
[00:06:32.860]Moments of Reckoning Global Calls
[00:06:35.004]for Racial Equity and Action,
[00:06:37.560]promotes important and timely discussion
[00:06:39.920]to further our understanding of the many challenges,
[00:06:43.360]relating to equity we still experience today.
[00:06:47.330]Tonight's forum will address reckoning and reconciliation
[00:06:50.100]on the Great Plains
[00:06:51.390]and how we can start the process of healing.
[00:06:53.870]The historical harm caused by conquest and colonialism.
[00:06:59.300]As a note after the panel discussion,
[00:07:01.380]you will have the opportunity to ask questions,
[00:07:03.860]by texting ent918 to 22333
[00:07:12.120]or going to Poll, P-O-L-L EV.com/ent918.
[00:07:23.060]Sorry, I'm just gonna say that one more time.
[00:07:32.310]It is my honor to introduce a citizen of the Pawnee Nation
[00:07:36.540]who is also an author attorney and renowned legal scholar.
[00:07:41.290]Throughout his distinguished career,
[00:07:42.960]he has worked to protect the legal, political, property,
[00:07:46.260]cultural and human rights of Indian tribes
[00:07:48.657]and native peoples.
[00:07:50.570]An articulate and versed indigenous rights activist,
[00:07:53.910]he has addressed a wide variety of indigenous issues
[00:07:56.620]and topics involving native arts and cultures,
[00:07:59.840]indigenous history, federal Indian law, religious freedom,
[00:08:04.530]environmental protection, native American cosmology,
[00:08:08.260]and human rights.
[00:08:10.040]In 2018, he taught law in Honolulu,
[00:08:13.290]as the Dan and Maggie Inouye Distinguished Chair
[00:08:16.450]in democratic ideals at the University of Hawaii.
[00:08:20.810]As a tribal leader,
[00:08:22.210]Walter Echo-Haw currently serves,
[00:08:24.000]as the President of the Pawnee Nation Business Council.
[00:08:27.550]His books include "The Courts of the Conqueror," 2010,
[00:08:31.030]and "In The Light of Justice," 2013.
[00:08:33.810]And his latest novel, "The Sea of Grass," 2018.
[00:08:38.090]On a more personal note,
[00:08:39.030]I'd like to acknowledge the fact
[00:08:40.350]that Pawnee and Lakota weren't very friendly at one time,
[00:08:44.060]when I told my mother that I was going to be introducing
[00:08:46.970]the president of the Pawnee Nation,
[00:08:48.460]she joked that I should count coup on him.
[00:08:52.360]So, in honor of old rivalries,
[00:08:54.440]but out of respect for our current public health situation,
[00:08:57.650]I'll simply motion to Walter like this
[00:09:00.550]and we'll call it a socially distance coup.
[00:09:04.430]In all seriousness,
[00:09:05.540]I am truly honored and humbled
[00:09:07.410]to be able to introduce President Echo-Hawk,
[00:09:10.340]a tribal leader imbued with the deep wisdom and humility,
[00:09:13.410]taught to him by his elders.
[00:09:15.530]It is a wisdom born of a lifetime spent fighting
[00:09:17.990]for the rights of indigenous people across America.
[00:09:20.690]Please help me welcome Walter Echo-Hawk.
[00:09:37.170]Good evening, everyone.
[00:09:42.122]it's good to see each and every one of you.
[00:09:46.790]I want to thank Kevin for that very kind introduction
[00:09:52.960]and also the E.N Thompson Forum on World Issues
[00:09:57.980]for inviting me to speak tonight.
[00:10:00.810]I hope there's someone here.
[00:10:02.582]I can't see anyone.
[00:10:07.330]And also the Center for Great Plain Studies
[00:10:10.720]for co-sponsoring this wonderful event.
[00:10:15.140]I want also to thank Tim Grant and the Omaha singers
[00:10:20.410]who attended our reception
[00:10:22.170]for singing some very wonderful songs.
[00:10:25.820]And lastly, to each of you thank you for coming.
[00:10:31.050]I am very deeply honored to be here at the Lied Center.
[00:10:37.210]I was last honored to be at this podium in 1997,
[00:10:43.230]25 years ago.
[00:10:45.730]So, you might say tonight,
[00:10:48.560]we see the return of your prodigal son.
[00:10:54.200]But I am glad to be part of this premier speaking series,
[00:11:00.560]before such a distinguished audience.
[00:11:04.630]And I'm very pleased if I may,
[00:11:07.220]but before I begin much further,
[00:11:09.470]I was gonna introduce my wife, Pauline,
[00:11:13.320]if you're there,
[00:11:14.390]I think I see you please rise.
[00:11:16.350]She brought me to,
[00:11:26.270]she drove me up here,
[00:11:31.000]but I am very also pleased to be up here today
[00:11:34.130]to help kick off
[00:11:35.410]the Center of the Great Plains 47th Annual's Symposium.
[00:11:41.410]And this year's topic for that symposium
[00:11:45.310]is Reckoning and Reconciliation on the Great Plains.
[00:11:51.600]No discussion on this topic in the Great Plains
[00:11:56.350]is complete without examining the indigenous
[00:12:01.160]and settler relations during and after White settlement
[00:12:06.860]on the Great Plains.
[00:12:10.330]And I commend the center for theme this year,
[00:12:14.550]because reckoning and reconciliation is a timely topic
[00:12:19.420]in the world today.
[00:12:21.690]Many nations around the world are beginning to come to terms
[00:12:26.570]with their indigenous peoples,
[00:12:29.730]trying to find ways to heal painful past,
[00:12:34.480]brought about by histories of colonization and conquest.
[00:12:41.920]These reconciliation efforts are prompted
[00:12:46.210]and guided by in large measure
[00:12:49.670]the United Nations Declaration
[00:12:52.340]on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
[00:12:55.770]This is a landmark international instrument
[00:13:01.670]that defines indigenous rights,
[00:13:05.760]based upon modern international human rights law.
[00:13:12.530]And the declaration asks all nations
[00:13:17.760]to implement these human rights standards,
[00:13:21.390]into their domestic laws and policies.
[00:13:26.350]The declaration was passed by the UN General Assembly
[00:13:30.300]in the year 2007,
[00:13:33.720]and today 150 nations around the world,
[00:13:38.350]have endorsed a declaration
[00:13:41.530]and are in the process of beginning to implement it
[00:13:45.330]in the domestic laws and policies
[00:13:48.610]of nations around the world.
[00:13:51.370]Our good friend Canada to the north
[00:13:53.850]is a prime example of this reconciliation process.
[00:14:00.040]Just last summer,
[00:14:02.200]the parliament passed a national law
[00:14:07.540]to endorse and incorporate the declaration,
[00:14:12.070]into the national law of Canada.
[00:14:15.650]And that historic law here in North America
[00:14:21.040]is the result of a national truth telling
[00:14:24.340]and reconciliation process that was done in Canada.
[00:14:28.830]It involved an apology to the indigenous peoples
[00:14:33.140]for a painful past that was issued in the year 2008.
[00:14:38.830]British Columbia passed a law
[00:14:42.280]on the provincial level in 2019,
[00:14:45.420]incorporating these standards,
[00:14:47.310]into the laws of British Columbia,
[00:14:50.470]leading to this national law in 2021.
[00:15:00.470]My topic this evening
[00:15:02.880]is Reckoning and Reconciliation on the Great Plains,
[00:15:06.630]Healing Historical Harm Caused by Conquest and Colonialism.
[00:15:14.150]Before I launch into my topic,
[00:15:16.060]I first have to say that,
[00:15:18.270]I, myself am very proud to be an American.
[00:15:23.960]This truly is the land of the free,
[00:15:27.200]a place of unprecedented freedom.
[00:15:32.792]And it's great to live
[00:15:34.150]in a world renowned experiment in democracy.
[00:15:41.220]But unlike many nations around the world,
[00:15:45.970]the United States is heir
[00:15:48.730]to a legacy of conquest and colonialism
[00:15:53.920]that we have all inherited from our forebearers.
[00:15:59.910]Tonight in my talk,
[00:16:01.810]I wanna cover four areas with you.
[00:16:05.400]First of all,
[00:16:06.233]I want to just briefly overview
[00:16:10.770]the Great Plains Indian Nations that are indigenous
[00:16:14.640]to this sea of grass.
[00:16:18.340]Secondly, I want to confront and define the legacies
[00:16:25.020]of conquest and colonialism here in The Great Plains.
[00:16:31.940]Third, I want to identify the impacts
[00:16:36.130]of conquest and colonialism on Great Plains Indian Tribes
[00:16:41.010]that still linger to this very day as unresolved problems.
[00:16:49.350]And then fourth and finally,
[00:16:51.930]I want to talk about a frame work,
[00:16:55.550]a framework for healing historical injuries.
[00:16:59.962]And here I'll go back to this declaration
[00:17:04.760]and also talk about some of the wisdom traditions
[00:17:08.770]of the human race that can help us heal a painful past
[00:17:14.960]that I would want to commend to Nebraska.
[00:17:21.100]let me turn next to an overview
[00:17:24.070]of the Great Plains Indian tribes.
[00:17:27.780]As we know our beloved Nebraska,
[00:17:32.200]sits in the heart of the Great Plains.
[00:17:36.050]This is the greatest grassland on earth.
[00:17:41.710]It spans 3000 miles from the Rio Grande,
[00:17:45.550]all the way up to the Arctic Ocean.
[00:17:48.970]From where we stand here tonight,
[00:17:51.064]it's 600 miles wide from the Missouri River
[00:17:55.150]to the front range of the Rocky Mountains.
[00:18:00.070]And this great expanse lies smacked up
[00:18:03.280]in the American heartland.
[00:18:07.270]It's a place of ancient human habitation
[00:18:12.260]for at least 14,000 years
[00:18:15.520]and probably much longer than that.
[00:18:19.800]And today's plains Indian tribes with historical connection
[00:18:25.310]to Nebraska are many.
[00:18:27.860]They include as was mentioned a earlier by Kevin,
[00:18:32.150]the great Sioux Nation, the Cheyenne, the Arapaho,
[00:18:36.780]Pawnee, Ponca, Oto-Missouria, Omaha, Wichita,
[00:18:45.000]the Arikara, Kiowa, Comanche, Apache, Crow, Mandan,
[00:18:52.722]Hidatsa and the wonderful Ho-Chunk here as well.
[00:18:59.800]In many respects,
[00:19:02.290]these tribes are truly American icons.
[00:19:10.350]ways of law life,
[00:19:13.000]their value systems
[00:19:16.260]and their spiritual outlooks are rich examples
[00:19:20.730]of America's indigenous peoples
[00:19:24.350]and many people around the world,
[00:19:27.920]admire they're striking images,
[00:19:33.380]there are cultural attributes,
[00:19:37.330]there are cosmologies
[00:19:39.300]and for them,
[00:19:40.690]these tribes symbolize the very spirit of America.
[00:19:51.420]The Great Plains tribes
[00:19:55.830]from this region all have diverse cultures and histories,
[00:20:01.110]but they share one thing in common,
[00:20:04.320]all faced hardship during the expansion
[00:20:09.700]of the United States into the Great Plains of North America.
[00:20:16.540]The Pawnee Indians,
[00:20:18.160]my nation from Oklahoma that is currently in Oklahoma
[00:20:22.400]is the oldest tribal nation that's indigenous to Nebraska
[00:20:29.300]and also to Kansas as well.
[00:20:33.650]The Pawnee have inhabited the great planes
[00:20:37.760]for at least 900 years and probably longer.
[00:20:43.390]Our origin story teaches that we were created by the stars
[00:20:51.010]and the heavens above the Great Plains.
[00:20:55.020]Our first Adam and Eve,
[00:20:58.030]standing rain and closed person,
[00:21:02.060]were brought to earth on a whirlwind
[00:21:07.180]and placed on the west bank of the Missouri River,
[00:21:12.030]the holy river.
[00:21:14.440]And when the world was young,
[00:21:17.620]our traditions say that we peopled this region,
[00:21:22.340]the central plains of North America,
[00:21:25.480]we were given a vast homeland that spanned
[00:21:29.390]from the Missouri River,
[00:21:31.290]all the way to the Rocky Mountains.
[00:21:35.240]The Pawnee are one of America's Buffalo Nations.
[00:21:41.070]We follow Mother Corn and we grow sacred foods,
[00:21:48.400]other sacred foods as well.
[00:21:50.950]And here in Nebraska,
[00:21:53.810]the land is dotted by Pawnee holy places
[00:21:58.770]that extend also into Kansas and Colorado as well.
[00:22:04.320]And I'm glad to report,
[00:22:06.950]we're still here in the Great Plains of North America.
[00:22:19.630]I wanna turn now to this legacy of conquest.
[00:22:25.450]What is our legacy of conquest and colonialism
[00:22:31.100]in the United States?
[00:22:35.770]The Winning of the West
[00:22:38.430]is a well known foundational story about the founding,
[00:22:45.380]the growth and the expansion of our republic,
[00:22:50.130]into a modern-day democracy.
[00:22:55.250]This story, The Winning of the West,
[00:22:58.980]it's glorified in movies,
[00:23:03.870]it's told and retold in story books, school books,
[00:23:09.280]but the harsh impacts on indigenous peoples,
[00:23:13.060]during White settlement on indigenous land,
[00:23:17.560]has been glossed over and is rarely mentioned
[00:23:21.810]in American history books.
[00:23:25.010]But the fact remains
[00:23:28.010]that the United States was founded in 1776,
[00:23:35.200]during the age of colonialism,
[00:23:39.710]when the nations of Europe,
[00:23:43.160]were competing with each other
[00:23:44.780]to colonize most of the world.
[00:23:49.510]And during the 500 year span,
[00:23:54.480]those nations of Europe colonized,
[00:23:58.020]actually most of the world,
[00:23:59.630]including the new world here in the Western hemisphere.
[00:24:05.000]During that era from 1776 onward,
[00:24:10.390]the task of the new Republic was White settlement
[00:24:15.800]on indigenous lands, no matter what.
[00:24:20.710]And that process as I wanna talk about tonight,
[00:24:24.990]took a terrible toll on the indigenous peoples of this land.
[00:24:35.260]Before I go much further,
[00:24:37.464]I need to define the terms colonialism and conquest.
[00:24:47.820]Colonialism is really as old as the human race itself.
[00:24:57.990]A few decades back,
[00:24:59.761]ASU law professor Bob Clinton,
[00:25:04.300]defined the term European colonialism,
[00:25:10.060]as quote, "The involuntary annexation and or exploitation
[00:25:17.467]"of lands and resources, belonging to another people,
[00:25:21.987]"often of a different race or ethnicity,
[00:25:25.887]"or the involuntary expansion of hegemony over them,
[00:25:31.467]"often displacing partially
[00:25:33.597]"or completely their prior political organization."
[00:25:42.346]And during that worldwide colonial era,
[00:25:47.020]from 1492 well into the 1960s,
[00:25:52.700]the nations of Europe competed to conquer,
[00:25:56.580]colonize and Christianize the rest of the world,
[00:26:02.310]the indigenous nations of Africa,
[00:26:06.440]the western hemisphere, Australia,
[00:26:10.630]the circumpolar world, Oceanian, India
[00:26:17.310]and most of Asia were colonized.
[00:26:22.790]And for the indigenous peoples of those lands,
[00:26:26.800]colonization was a harsh life altering experience,
[00:26:33.390]because it invariably meant invasion of their country,
[00:26:41.180]appropriation of their land and natural resources,
[00:26:47.200]destruction of their habitats and ways of life
[00:26:52.690]and sometimes genocide or ethnocide.
[00:27:02.130]The rules for European colonialism,
[00:27:08.610]were governed by early international law,
[00:27:12.910]the International Law of Colonialism,
[00:27:17.080]many of its doctrines can be traced all the way back
[00:27:20.670]to medieval Europe.
[00:27:24.640]This body of law,
[00:27:26.240]contains a host of nefarious legal doctrines.
[00:27:35.783]And this early law of colonialism,
[00:27:42.250]was imported in whole cloth,
[00:27:45.610]into the United States legal system by John Marshall,
[00:27:51.640]the famous chief justice of the United States Supreme Court
[00:27:56.590]in a series of cases beginning in 1823 through 1832.
[00:28:04.630]The so-called Marshall Trilogy,
[00:28:08.540]involving Johnson v. M'Intosh,
[00:28:12.490]Cherokee Nation v. Georgia
[00:28:15.830]and Worcester versus Georgia.
[00:28:21.370]These three Supreme Court decisions laid down the foundation
[00:28:28.210]for today's Federal Indian law,
[00:28:30.810]which is the legal framework here in the United States
[00:28:33.750]for defining the rights of native people.
[00:28:39.630]That foundation was elaborated on in the ensuing decades,
[00:28:45.890]into the early 20th Century,
[00:28:48.240]by other Supreme Court decisions,
[00:28:51.200]such as Lone Wolf v. Hitchcock in 1903,
[00:28:55.440]US v. Sandoval in 1913.
[00:28:59.040]These cases espouse legal doctrines of discovery,
[00:29:05.710]doctrines of conquest, doctrines of guardianship,
[00:29:12.210]doctrines of cultural, racial and religious superiority,
[00:29:19.400]doctrines of political hegemony,
[00:29:23.360]including plenary power over native people,
[00:29:30.140]as well as undisguised racism
[00:29:36.200]that says that native Americans,
[00:29:40.180]are an inferior race of people.
[00:29:44.340]These legal doctrines are familiar in the legal systems
[00:29:51.410]of colonies around the world.
[00:29:54.710]But in the United States,
[00:29:56.250]these doctrines are still the law of the land today.
[00:30:01.140]These cases that I just mentioned have never been reversed.
[00:30:06.660]They're still relied upon
[00:30:08.740]to decide modern day issues affecting native interests.
[00:30:20.870]So, the law of colonialism is alive and well
[00:30:25.580]in Federal Indian law.
[00:30:26.950]It represents a dark side to that body of law.
[00:30:31.370]And I just wanted to add here
[00:30:33.210]that the institution of colonialism as I've defined it,
[00:30:39.380]was repudiated as repugnant,
[00:30:44.220]by the United Nations in the 1960s.
[00:30:47.260]It branded the institution of colonialism,
[00:30:50.780]as an oppressive institution.
[00:30:56.780]But unfortunately the legal underpinnings of colonialism,
[00:31:07.230]remain embedded in United States law,
[00:31:11.320]down to the present date.
[00:31:14.260]This UN declaration that I mentioned earlier
[00:31:17.980]that was passed at the UN General Assembly in the year 2007,
[00:31:25.160]seeks to rid nations of these lingering ill effects
[00:31:31.470]of the attributes of colonialism
[00:31:35.720]that remain in nations around the world,
[00:31:39.070]including these legal doctrines that I mentioned earlier.
[00:31:42.650]That's one of the purpose of this declaration.
[00:31:47.500]I also wanna spend a little time defining the term conquest,
[00:31:54.600]as we know much in human history is marked by conquest.
[00:32:01.460]It's an ancient tradition it seems,
[00:32:04.510]and we can see that going on today
[00:32:06.610]in Russia's war against Ukraine.
[00:32:11.610]The term conquest,
[00:32:14.160]means to acquire land by force of arms.
[00:32:18.910]Websters dictionary book says that conquest is quote,
[00:32:25.857]"especially territory appropriated by force of arms."
[00:32:33.280]So, for purposes of my talk this evening,
[00:32:36.740]this legacy of conquest in the United States
[00:32:41.710]is simply what we did to the Indians,
[00:32:44.270]during the rise of our nation in manifest destiny
[00:32:49.400]when our forebearers expanded across the continent,
[00:32:54.220]brushed the Indians aside
[00:32:56.360]and placed them under government control.
[00:33:00.660]The imprints of that legacy,
[00:33:03.730]left deep marks in today's social fabric
[00:33:09.130]and our legal culture that can be seen in our legal system,
[00:33:15.890]in our tribal communities
[00:33:19.420]and in the social mindset and policies of the nation.
[00:33:26.350]But the imprint
[00:33:27.480]of the doctrine of conquest remains visibly present.
[00:33:32.870]In the law,
[00:33:35.600]there is a well-developed doctrine of conquest,
[00:33:41.750]found in Federal Indian law.
[00:33:44.470]It goes back to many of the same cases.
[00:33:48.370]In Johnson v. M'Intosh,
[00:33:50.630]the very first big Supreme Court decision,
[00:33:54.950]John Marshall described the United States court system,
[00:34:02.390]as the courts of the conquerer.
[00:34:05.840]And in that case the courts of the conquerer,
[00:34:08.590]laid out rules for defining Indian land rights,
[00:34:13.020]using the Doctrine of Discovery,
[00:34:16.180]which says that the act of discovery
[00:34:18.600]on the Eastern Seaboard,
[00:34:20.430]operates automatically to trans legal title
[00:34:23.030]to the United States.
[00:34:25.240]And that act of discovery also means
[00:34:28.280]that the whole continent was conquered.
[00:34:33.960]In that opinion John Marshall wrote that title by conquest
[00:34:40.630]is acquired maintained by force
[00:34:44.930]and the conqueror prescribes its limits.
[00:34:50.440]This particular rule violated international law at the time,
[00:34:55.210]because in international law bare conquest,
[00:34:59.840]has never been sufficient to convey legal title to land.
[00:35:05.270]We didn't own Afghanistan simply because we invaded it.
[00:35:11.500]But so Marshall had to craft an exception to that rule
[00:35:15.390]for the United States
[00:35:17.000]and his exception was based on his assertion
[00:35:20.830]that Indians are savages
[00:35:23.850]and we are warlike.
[00:35:26.820]Therefore we need a new rule here.
[00:35:29.980]That simple discovery of the continent,
[00:35:33.220]gives us the clause of a conquer
[00:35:35.870]and the privileges of a conquer.
[00:35:39.470]Then a couple years later in Cherokee Nation v. Georgia,
[00:35:44.780]this Supreme Court decision
[00:35:46.690]in the peak zenith of the removal era,
[00:35:50.610]it reads like,
[00:35:51.670]the legal opinion of the Supreme Court,
[00:35:53.980]reads like a declaration of war.
[00:36:00.372]The opinion states that
[00:36:03.180]the act of discovery grants dominion over land discovered.
[00:36:10.420]That conquest grants dominion in case of war.
[00:36:16.660]And at looked at the nefarious laws
[00:36:19.410]of the State of Georgia in that case,
[00:36:21.580]which were designed to drive the Cherokee from Georgia,
[00:36:26.470]saying that this is a quote, "War in disguise,
[00:36:32.927]"and it's not the province of the courts to intervene."
[00:36:41.260]Indeed in that same opinion,
[00:36:43.340]the other justices wrote concurring opinions.
[00:36:46.440]And one of them written by Justice Johnson,
[00:36:52.280]is a very jingoistic kind of a decision,
[00:36:56.932]written with a distinct military mindset
[00:37:03.140]that just drips with hostility against the native people.
[00:37:08.050]And in that opinion Justice Johnson said
[00:37:11.720]that discovery grants a right of dominion,
[00:37:15.430]over the country discovered
[00:37:18.030]and that allows the absolute of appropriation of territory,
[00:37:23.830]the annexation of it to the discoverer.
[00:37:29.800]And it also grants an exclusive right of conquest.
[00:37:35.770]So, we can see that the tribal nations,
[00:37:40.070]are being viewed by the Supreme Court,
[00:37:43.210]as the proper subjects for conquest.
[00:37:46.710]After these decisions were handed down,
[00:37:50.340]Indian law opinions began to fill with metaphors of war
[00:37:56.640]and the Supreme Court,
[00:37:57.950]state Supreme Courts throughout the South,
[00:38:02.490]during the removal period before the civil war,
[00:38:05.910]when the race of Indians were being removed
[00:38:08.090]from that region.
[00:38:10.590]One of the decisions from the Alabama Supreme Court in 1832,
[00:38:17.303]says that and I quote,
[00:38:19.107]"A discovered Indian country is conquered country.
[00:38:24.800]"And the new sovereign exercises,
[00:38:28.227]"the rights of a conquer over his new subjects."
[00:38:33.610]So by 1955, the myth of conquest was so prevalent
[00:38:42.150]in Supreme Court case law that Justice Reed
[00:38:45.480]in the case of Tee-Hit-Ton Indians versus United States,
[00:38:50.410]wrote that and I'm gonna quote here,
[00:38:53.317]"Every America school boy,
[00:38:56.337]"knows that the savage tribes of this continent,
[00:39:00.117]"were deprived of their ancestral ranges by force.
[00:39:05.897]"When the Indian seeded millions of acres,
[00:39:09.507]"it was not a sale but the conquerors will
[00:39:14.327]"that them of their land."
[00:39:21.380]So, just like the law of colonialism is embedded in the law.
[00:39:26.330]One train of thought is this notion of conquest,
[00:39:30.520]which remains alive and well
[00:39:33.770]in the dark side of Federal Indian law today.
[00:39:37.590]What were the impacts
[00:39:39.260]of conquest and colonization on indigenous peoples?
[00:39:46.720]As I mentioned earlier,
[00:39:47.940]it took a terrible toll and that is seen,
[00:39:53.300]I think most graphically
[00:39:54.930]in the stagger population collapse,
[00:40:01.070]here in the United States.
[00:40:03.580]Demographers estimate that in 1492,
[00:40:07.220]there were more than 5 million indigenous peoples
[00:40:10.530]in the continental United States,
[00:40:13.360]by 1900 only 250,000 were left alive.
[00:40:21.620]That represents a population loss
[00:40:24.260]of a million and a half people per century.
[00:40:30.520]And it represents also that by 1900,
[00:40:37.730]there was a 5% survival rate.
[00:40:43.650]And that is one of the greatest population collapses
[00:40:50.910]the world has ever seen.
[00:40:53.920]The Pawnee tribe here in Nebraska
[00:40:58.190]in the 1700s it was estimated
[00:41:00.820]that there were 22,000 Pawnees here in this state.
[00:41:09.210]But by 1900, only 635 people were left alive.
[00:41:16.160]That's a 2.3% survival rate.
[00:41:24.610]Now, to be sure there have been other die offs
[00:41:28.070]in world history,
[00:41:30.370]calamity, disease, starvation, genocide,
[00:41:37.000]have reduced populations all the way back in history.
[00:41:42.990]In Europe, in the middle ages,
[00:41:45.770]there was a 40% loss due to famine, war and disease.
[00:41:51.260]In Rwanda during that recent 100 day genocide,
[00:41:56.680]11% of the population was killed,
[00:42:00.650]only 25% of the Tutsi Tribe survived.
[00:42:06.370]In the Jewish Holocaust,
[00:42:12.870]only 35% survived that genocide,
[00:42:19.740]but in the United States,
[00:42:23.180]native people in the United States,
[00:42:25.350]only had a 5% survival rate by 1900.
[00:42:30.660]And that is a mind numbing figure that far exceeds,
[00:42:35.900]any of these other known population collapses
[00:42:40.270]in the history of our race.
[00:42:43.160]What were the causes of this astounding population collapse?
[00:42:49.640]Demographers have attributed six causes.
[00:42:55.170]First is warfare.
[00:42:58.540]And here in the United States from 1776,
[00:43:02.800]all the way through 1892,
[00:43:06.660]we saw more than 100 years of warfare,
[00:43:12.860]by the United States against its native peoples
[00:43:17.170]and more than 40 wars.
[00:43:20.860]Our land was a vast theater of war
[00:43:26.590]and no other group has faced the barrels of American guns,
[00:43:31.210]like the native Americans have.
[00:43:34.950]The second cause of this population collapse was disease,
[00:43:41.590]spread during colonial expansion.
[00:43:44.800]We witnessed pandemics,
[00:43:47.490]epidemics that decimated indigenous populations.
[00:43:57.080]The third cause has been the systematic taking
[00:44:01.410]of our Indian kids.
[00:44:05.980]Being taken from their families and their cultures,
[00:44:09.350]their tribes and placed into non-Indian institutions
[00:44:16.560]or families, non-Indian settings.
[00:44:20.230]By 1978, fully one in four Indians children had been removed
[00:44:26.450]from their households.
[00:44:29.650]And no nation
[00:44:31.610]or no culture can survive the systematic taking
[00:44:35.510]of their children for long.
[00:44:39.200]The fourth cause that has been identified as a factor
[00:44:43.570]in this population collapse was the forcible removal
[00:44:48.120]of the Indians from their homelands,
[00:44:51.720]which was a widespread practice in our country,
[00:44:55.300]during the Indian removal period,
[00:44:58.310]throughout the remainder of that century,
[00:45:01.598]there was widespread forcible removal.
[00:45:07.580]The fifth cause that has been identified,
[00:45:09.780]was habitat destruction.
[00:45:13.370]Ecosystems, animals, plants being destroyed,
[00:45:19.120]which had served as the subsistence space
[00:45:23.500]for tribal nations leading to starvation.
[00:45:28.140]Many people died due to starvation in a land of plenty.
[00:45:34.870]And I know that the Pawnees experienced that,
[00:45:37.360]after the buffalo were destroyed
[00:45:41.580]and during the Dust Bowl
[00:45:46.220]where mother earth was turned upside down
[00:45:48.740]and the earth baked in the sun and was blown in way
[00:45:54.130]to form these big black clouds
[00:45:56.950]that rain sand down on the people
[00:46:00.481]and the worst environmental catastrophe scene
[00:46:07.030]in this Great Planes.
[00:46:10.420]And then I think the six cause here a forcible assimilation.
[00:46:17.270]The government effort to stamp out native culture
[00:46:21.810]and our languages and our religions.
[00:46:25.170]So, these factors demographers tell us were factors
[00:46:33.391]in the population collapse of a native people here
[00:46:37.400]in North America.
[00:46:39.930]How can we possibly fathom
[00:46:42.610]or contextualize such a traumatic impacts
[00:46:46.350]on an entire race of people?
[00:46:51.300]I think we can look through the lens of historical trauma
[00:46:56.470]and view the harsh impacts of conquest and colonization,
[00:47:03.340]through the lens of historical trauma.
[00:47:08.250]Certainly the historical trauma found
[00:47:12.780]in native American history that I've recounted
[00:47:16.076]is a successive march of one traumatic event after another,
[00:47:24.220]war, disease, population collapse, dispossession,
[00:47:30.160]removal, culture loss, subjugation and marginalization.
[00:47:37.660]This has been described as by a,
[00:47:40.700]this kind of trauma is described by social scientists,
[00:47:44.010]as post-traumatic stress disorder, PTSD
[00:47:50.280]and similar symptoms are seen among survivors
[00:47:54.290]of this stress disorder,
[00:47:57.920]Holocaust survivors, war veterans, POWs, refugees,
[00:48:07.270]ethnic cleansing survivors
[00:48:09.590]and survivors of unexpected sudden death,
[00:48:14.778]including torture survivors.
[00:48:18.590]They all seem to have similar symptoms
[00:48:23.108]in their social pathologies.
[00:48:27.700]And when left unhealed,
[00:48:31.770]this kind of trauma with its unresolved grief,
[00:48:35.580]can be deposited into the intergenerational transfer
[00:48:40.790]of trauma from one generation to the next.
[00:48:45.920]And so given this kind of a history,
[00:48:51.510]I believe that the challenge
[00:48:56.470]that's presented by the legacy of conquest and colonialism
[00:49:02.200]is how can we heal that painful past,
[00:49:06.754]especially when the adverse impacts are still seen
[00:49:10.990]and felt today?
[00:49:14.050]And I wanna just briefly inventory for you,
[00:49:17.070]the lingering unresolved problems
[00:49:20.330]from that legacy that still face our nation today.
[00:49:28.290]The first three
[00:49:29.123]of these lingering problems are legal in nature.
[00:49:35.720]The first being that Congress has the power
[00:49:40.480]to curtail some really important indigenous rights
[00:49:45.570]in our country, our right of self-determination,
[00:49:49.630]our right of self-government,
[00:49:53.070]can be terminated at will at the pleasure of Congress,
[00:49:57.300]under this plenary power doctrine
[00:50:00.070]that gives Congress unlimited power over native people.
[00:50:06.690]the Supreme Court can also trim tribal sovereignty at will,
[00:50:13.330]as well and does so quite frequently in federal common law,
[00:50:19.600]decisions handed down pertaining to Indians.
[00:50:23.230]There's been an over an 80% loss rate of Indian cases,
[00:50:27.060]since 1985 down to the present date.
[00:50:34.770]Thirdly, the idea of equality and non-discrimination,
[00:50:41.470]which are taken for granted by most of us,
[00:50:45.050]are beyond reach for native of Americans
[00:50:48.630]when Federal Indian law continues
[00:50:52.520]to harbor these doctrines of racial superiority.
[00:50:57.550]It's hard to go to court,
[00:50:59.890]when the courts describe your clients as a savage race
[00:51:06.596]of inferior people.
[00:51:12.400]So, these trains of thought in the dark side
[00:51:18.290]of the law of colonialism is alive
[00:51:22.180]and well as the dark side of Federal Indian law today,
[00:51:26.430]where notions of conquest and colonialism
[00:51:29.720]and racism flourish in the law.
[00:51:37.900]so there's a need to reform
[00:51:39.710]and strengthen Federal Indian law
[00:51:41.720]and make it a more just body of law in a post-colonial age.
[00:51:47.180]The fourth unresolved problem is that tribal culture
[00:51:55.300]It's under assault in many places,
[00:51:57.770]due to a failure in the law to protect holy places,
[00:52:03.370]to protect indigenous intellectual property rights,
[00:52:09.940]to protect our indigenous habitats.
[00:52:19.970]And then finally,
[00:52:22.160]as far as inventorying these lingering problems
[00:52:27.690]that have been handed down to our generation,
[00:52:29.990]we see these hard to solve social ills
[00:52:36.210]that's still abound in tribal communities around the nation.
[00:52:41.570]In our tribal communities,
[00:52:43.320]we can see the highest rate of violent crime,
[00:52:50.290]much of which is perpetrated by both Indian
[00:52:53.900]and non-Indian people on natives,
[00:52:58.840]which is our people
[00:53:03.200]that live in tribal communities are twice as likely
[00:53:06.570]to be victimized by a violent crime.
[00:53:09.640]34% of the women will be raped during their lifetime.
[00:53:15.560]39% will be subjected to domestic violence.
[00:53:21.220]We have high rates of missing and murdered women
[00:53:25.260]in our communities.
[00:53:27.410]We have the highest dropout rate, 36%,
[00:53:31.660]the highest poverty rate on reservations,
[00:53:34.530]where one in three live below the poverty line,
[00:53:38.840]we've got the lowest life expectancies,
[00:53:41.630]less healthcare, greater rates of diseases
[00:53:47.100]and the poorest housing.
[00:53:51.580]These lingering problems,
[00:53:55.820]which are the end result of this legacy of conquest
[00:54:00.010]and colonialism really do paint I think a tragic picture.
[00:54:07.110]And to add to these solved problems,
[00:54:12.260]which have gone on for so long
[00:54:14.020]that they're taken for granted
[00:54:16.050]and threatened to become permanent problems
[00:54:19.620]is a perplexing political question,
[00:54:23.160]faced by modern nations around the world
[00:54:26.720]that have histories of this nature.
[00:54:30.270]What's the most appropriate way
[00:54:32.560]to incorporate Indigenous peoples into the body politic
[00:54:39.190]in a post-colonial age?
[00:54:42.890]This is a vexing political question
[00:54:47.067]that stems from the fact that during,
[00:54:50.820]here in the United States as an example,
[00:54:52.840]during our nation-building process,
[00:54:56.810]we largely bypassed the colonized native Americans
[00:55:01.880]in the United States.
[00:55:04.740]The native people in our country were relegated
[00:55:07.500]to the margins during the formation of our political system.
[00:55:14.585]When our emergent nation gained its independence,
[00:55:19.590]built its nascent institutions
[00:55:23.430]and grew into our modern day state,
[00:55:28.380]they were left out of that process.
[00:55:31.160]And this resulted in freedom and democracy,
[00:55:36.590]based on consent of the governed for the settlers
[00:55:40.560]and their descendants,
[00:55:42.800]while the indigenous people languished
[00:55:45.570]and continue to do so,
[00:55:48.280]confined to the structures of colonialism,
[00:55:51.880]ruled as colonized subjects,
[00:55:55.210]living in the midst of a democracy,
[00:56:00.630]viewed by the courts as a conquered people
[00:56:04.760]with de minimis legal rights.
[00:56:09.410]The native people had no part
[00:56:11.500]in building this political order.
[00:56:13.510]So, in a postcolonial world,
[00:56:16.430]the paramount problem
[00:56:19.400]is how best to incorporate the native people,
[00:56:23.860]into the political order on a consensual basis.
[00:56:29.450]And how can we restructure the rights, responsibilities
[00:56:35.870]and relationships between indigenous peoples
[00:56:38.760]and non-indigenous peoples on a more just basis.
[00:56:45.490]This UN declaration that I wanna turn to next,
[00:56:49.070]shows us how to do that.
[00:56:50.700]It points the best pathway
[00:56:53.390]to bring indigenous peoples into the body politic
[00:56:58.440]with the full measure
[00:57:00.380]of their indigenous human rights intact.
[00:57:05.740]And I think that will not only serve
[00:57:08.780]to strengthen Federal Indian law
[00:57:12.580]and replace the dark side of Federal Indian law
[00:57:15.660]with these human rights standards.
[00:57:19.380]And that would serve to resolve this internal tension
[00:57:23.250]within the body of Federal Indian law,
[00:57:25.220]where the good side of the law
[00:57:27.860]with its protective features
[00:57:30.270]is constantly at war with the dark side,
[00:57:33.620]which has all these anti-indigenous functions.
[00:57:37.420]If we imported the declaration into our domestic law,
[00:57:42.830]it would resolve that to tension,
[00:57:44.540]by getting rid of the dark side of the law
[00:57:49.830]and that at the end of the day,
[00:57:53.860]these changes in the law and our policy,
[00:57:57.750]would bring the native people into the body politic.
[00:58:02.870]I think on a consensual basis,
[00:58:05.340]with their rights and intact.
[00:58:07.730]So, I wanna just talk a little bit now as I wind down here
[00:58:13.210]to examine this UN declaration,
[00:58:15.480]and then I wanna turn to our wisdom traditions
[00:58:18.750]that provide us a framework
[00:58:20.190]for reckoning and reconciliation,
[00:58:24.200]but this declaration as I mentioned,
[00:58:26.780]it comes to us from the United Nations,
[00:58:30.040]it was 25 years in the making,
[00:58:33.600]150 nations today around the world have endorsed it,
[00:58:37.650]making it the new order of the day.
[00:58:41.160]It has 48 articles in this document,
[00:58:43.890]you can go to your computer and download it
[00:58:47.850]that define the inherent human rights of native people,
[00:58:54.060]around the world and the obligations of nations
[00:58:57.620]with respect to their indigenous peoples.
[00:59:02.820]This document, this landmark document has remedial purposes,
[00:59:07.700]first to rid nations of historic injuries,
[00:59:11.870]suffered as a result of colonization and dispossession
[00:59:15.830]and interference with self-determination of native people.
[00:59:21.790]Secondly, it recognizes an urgent need
[00:59:28.250]to respect the human rights of native people.
[00:59:33.760]And third, there's a nation building purpose here too,
[00:59:38.100]that the idea that if we recognize
[00:59:42.840]and protect the human rights of our native people,
[00:59:47.610]that will strengthen our better relations
[00:59:51.960]and make for a stronger nation at the end of the day.
[00:59:57.860]So, this truly is a landmark International instrument.
[01:00:06.232]It puts us at a new crossroads here.
[01:00:09.020]It calls for reckoning and reconciliation.
[01:00:19.660]Throughout the arc of history,
[01:00:23.330]we've witnessed great human suffering,
[01:00:28.420]suffering of the kind seeing in Ukraine today.
[01:00:33.060]How do we respond to human suffering in our midst,
[01:00:39.500]especially that kind of suffering,
[01:00:42.060]which we or our forebearers caused.
[01:00:46.490]There's really three responses
[01:00:48.360]on how we respond to suffering of that nature.
[01:00:52.270]The first is to take the low road.
[01:00:56.720]Let's harbor hate, anger and seek revenge.
[01:01:02.620]That's one response we could take.
[01:01:05.410]I wouldn't commend it.
[01:01:08.240]The second response
[01:01:09.313]is that we can cope with injustice
[01:01:13.590]and make the injured community,
[01:01:17.950]live life with unresolved grief in communities
[01:01:22.420]that are scarred by historical trauma.
[01:01:26.790]It doesn't heal anything,
[01:01:28.330]but at least we're able to cope.
[01:01:32.004]The third response is let's heal these wounds.
[01:01:38.830]That's the high road.
[01:01:41.490]Let's take the high road through restorative justice
[01:01:45.420]and reconciliation to try to heal wounds of the past.
[01:01:51.730]And I think that all people of good will,
[01:01:56.810]are truly motivated to heal human suffering in their midst,
[01:02:02.210]no matter what the cause.
[01:02:04.960]And certainly our wisdom traditions that come to us
[01:02:10.130]from world religion exhorts us
[01:02:15.260]to take this high road when we have injured someone.
[01:02:20.450]And I know that it's hard to restore justice
[01:02:24.080]in a colonized land,
[01:02:27.770]between the conqueror and the conquered,
[01:02:31.260]even in a democracy,
[01:02:34.710]but we have three things that go on for us to do that.
[01:02:40.180]First is this UN declaration.
[01:02:42.330]It shows us a pathway
[01:02:44.860]to redress our legacy of conquest and colonialism.
[01:02:49.720]And second are these time tested wisdom traditions
[01:02:55.150]that we see in all world religions,
[01:02:58.010]all cultures around the world
[01:03:00.670]that tell us what we must do to heal wounds,
[01:03:05.030]even in the most severe cases that I wanna describe for you.
[01:03:10.380]And third, we have self-interest.
[01:03:14.490]Through our long history of the human race,
[01:03:16.650]we've learned that it is in our self-interest to unify
[01:03:21.570]and strengthen our communities
[01:03:23.620]or our societies to heal trauma in our midst,
[01:03:29.840]whatever the cause may be.
[01:03:32.830]So, our wisdom traditions,
[01:03:36.850]it's not rocket science.
[01:03:38.380]It lays out a five step process.
[01:03:41.140]The first is that an injury has occurred.
[01:03:45.690]We've harmed someone.
[01:03:48.720]And in this instance,
[01:03:49.950]we're talking about conquest and colonization,
[01:03:53.910]as being the injury.
[01:03:56.690]It's ill affects are still seen today.
[01:04:01.770]We need to acknowledge it and not deny it.
[01:04:07.590]Once this injury has occurred in step one,
[01:04:11.380]we move to step two.
[01:04:13.400]The perpetrators have to apologize.
[01:04:19.900]This is very hard to do,
[01:04:21.390]it requires honesty, truth telling and to be sincere,
[01:04:26.600]to get down on one knee and say,
[01:04:28.927]"I am sorry I brought you harm."
[01:04:34.500]Very hard to do.
[01:04:37.750]The arrogant and high places.
[01:04:39.470]It's almost impossible to apologize,
[01:04:42.070]but our wisdom traditions require us to do that
[01:04:47.350]in order to remove guilt.
[01:04:52.130]We have to cross that hard bridge and render an apology,
[01:04:56.150]a heartfelt apology.
[01:04:59.220]Once we've done that we move to step three.
[01:05:01.950]And according to our wisdom traditions,
[01:05:06.420]the burden shifts to the injured party
[01:05:08.950]to accept the apology.
[01:05:13.480]Sometimes that's equally hard to do as well,
[01:05:16.730]but it's important that that step be done
[01:05:19.780]in order to make peace.
[01:05:23.200]Once that's done we move to the fourth step here.
[01:05:28.470]We have to undertake acts of atonement.
[01:05:33.850]We have to perform concrete acts to make things right.
[01:05:39.230]We know we can't turn back the hands of time,
[01:05:43.480]but we can do all things in our power to make things right.
[01:05:48.790]And in this instance,
[01:05:51.340]we're looking at implementing this UN declaration,
[01:05:55.340]into United States policy as concrete acts of atonement,
[01:06:00.940]which we can do.
[01:06:03.210]That brings us to the fifth step here,
[01:06:09.920]We've now done everything that humans can do
[01:06:13.830]to heal the past.
[01:06:16.180]Peace is made, justice is rendered,
[01:06:21.570]We are reunited
[01:06:24.730]and we now sit at the very center of human compassion
[01:06:30.480]where I can honestly say,
[01:06:33.977]"I am you, you are me.
[01:06:37.677]"And we are one."
[01:06:42.240]That's what our wisdom traditions teach us,
[01:06:45.970]no matter where you come from.
[01:06:50.270]So, this leaves me with a question,
[01:06:53.300]how can Nebraskans help heal a painful past
[01:06:59.530]and in engage in a reckoning and reconciliation
[01:07:04.450]with the Great Plains tribes?
[01:07:09.140]I think Nebraska can do that through first of all,
[01:07:14.160]doing a truth and reconciliation process,
[01:07:19.450]similar to what Canada did,
[01:07:21.740]what's going on in Colorado and California,
[01:07:26.240]perhaps the Indian Commission
[01:07:28.370]or the Center of the American West can put together,
[01:07:31.720]a truth and reconciliation.
[01:07:33.510]So, we can have a discourse
[01:07:37.670]to set the stage in a truth telling process here.
[01:07:42.490]Secondly, that could lead to an apology,
[01:07:48.160]rendered by the governor perhaps to the Great Plains tribes
[01:07:53.390]for our painful past.
[01:07:59.970]Third, after this process,
[01:08:03.900]we could go to the unicameral
[01:08:06.870]and ask their senators there to pass a state law,
[01:08:12.700]endorsing this declaration,
[01:08:15.940]calling on the federal government to do the same thing
[01:08:20.530]and also to develop a national plan
[01:08:22.840]to implement this declaration,
[01:08:24.580]into United States law and policy.
[01:08:33.070]And in enacting such a law,
[01:08:36.270]the state need not fear embracing human rights,
[01:08:41.880]because it should be possible for Nebraska to govern itself,
[01:08:47.200]without trampling upon the human rights of native people.
[01:08:53.980]And at the same time Nebraska could a national model
[01:08:59.330]for the rest of the nation.
[01:09:03.260]So, in conclusion,
[01:09:06.740]folks it's fitting and appropriate
[01:09:10.360]to begin a healing and reconciliation process right here,
[01:09:16.290]right now in the Great Plains smacked up
[01:09:21.500]in the American heartland.
[01:09:24.970]This sea of grass,
[01:09:34.090]this sea of grass where we all live,
[01:09:38.180]has always been home to the strong and brave people.
[01:09:44.570]The great spirit,
[01:09:49.510]intended it to be that way,
[01:09:53.700]because he wants us to be strong and persevere.
[01:10:00.160]And we've seen glimpses of healing already here
[01:10:03.200]in the Great Plains at the Sand Creek Massacre Site.
[01:10:09.652]In the year 2007,
[01:10:12.170]the National Park Service established that site,
[01:10:16.900]as a national historic site.
[01:10:20.750]Senator Sam Brownback of Kansas was there
[01:10:25.380]at that gathering.
[01:10:26.850]He issued an apology to the Cheyenne
[01:10:30.660]for the wrongs committed there,
[01:10:33.460]so that the scars of war can begin to heal
[01:10:36.720]on the Great Plains.
[01:10:39.500]And here in Nebraska in the year 1989,
[01:10:44.440]the unicameral enacted LB-340,
[01:10:48.370]Nebraska's Landmark Repatriation Law.
[01:10:52.710]The first of its kind.
[01:10:55.940]And that repatriation law
[01:10:57.960]to repatriate back to the tribes that are human remains
[01:11:01.740]that had been dug up.
[01:11:03.770]That statute passed right here in town,
[01:11:08.880]changed the way that society looks
[01:11:12.020]at our native American dead.
[01:11:15.010]It restored the bond between the Pawnee people
[01:11:19.990]and our beloved ancestors that we could lay them to rest.
[01:11:25.120]And it put the nation on a brand new path,
[01:11:28.990]which led to national legislation.
[01:11:32.390]One a year later in 1990,
[01:11:35.510]the native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act.
[01:11:40.670]It all came from Nebraska.
[01:11:43.690]And now this forthcoming symposium,
[01:11:49.080]can carry that healing process forward.
[01:11:54.200]We stand at a starting place for healing wounds
[01:11:57.690]of a painful past here on the Great Plains.
[01:12:01.160]And in that I wish you well
[01:12:05.160]and may the great spirit be at your side.
[01:12:48.807]Thank you very much.
[01:12:51.150]I didn't realize there were this many people here.
[01:12:56.150]Thank you so much much for that powerful speech.
[01:12:58.690]Thank you so much Walter.
[01:13:00.387]It occurs to me
[01:13:01.220]that a speech like the one we heard here tonight
[01:13:02.840]is that it's heart a story.
[01:13:05.010]And that a good story like the one we heard here tonight,
[01:13:08.420]has the power to change the hearts and minds
[01:13:10.800]of the people who hear it.
[01:13:12.380]Now, I would urge each of you to take to heart
[01:13:14.940]the words of Walter Echo-Hawk.
[01:13:16.760]I know I will.
[01:13:19.290]Before we begin our Q and A tonight,
[01:13:20.780]I need to mention that President Echo-Hawk,
[01:13:22.870]will be signing books in the lobby.
[01:13:24.300]So, I hope you'll join him there if you can.
[01:13:28.720]To our audiences we go into Q and A,
[01:13:30.330]you can ask questions on your phone by texting,
[01:13:33.230]ent918 to 22333.
[01:13:38.960]All right and so we're gonna start the questions here.
[01:13:41.390]We did receive two questions here on the poll here
[01:13:46.217]and I'll go into the first one now.
[01:13:53.690]Americans can easily express disgust
[01:13:55.840]at the current Russian attacks on Ukraine,
[01:13:59.210]yet these same Americans have a had time being willing
[01:14:01.870]to acknowledge the same bloodshed
[01:14:03.830]that helped found this country.
[01:14:06.400]How do you feel we can really educate Americans
[01:14:08.900]to better understand our history
[01:14:11.440]if our federal education system,
[01:14:13.780]will not take the necessary steps
[01:14:15.760]to ensure our children really understand
[01:14:18.710]the founding of the country we live in.
[01:14:23.860]I was hoping these would be easy questions.
[01:14:29.300]I think that problem begins in the schools.
[01:14:32.830]There is an unfortunate information gap,
[01:14:37.650]many Americans think that Indians are extinct
[01:14:44.700]or never learned anything about our history
[01:14:48.500]or our aspirations in the public schools system.
[01:14:53.060]And so therefore many are hostage I think,
[01:14:57.930]to stereotypes and things of that nature.
[01:15:02.630]So, I think it all begins in the schools
[01:15:06.042]to educate our youth about the history of the native people,
[01:15:14.940]the aspirations that the current native people have.
[01:15:19.070]And I know there's a lot of,
[01:15:24.340]I guess, dislike for critical race theory,
[01:15:27.590]espoused in different places.
[01:15:31.787]But we have to tell our people what really happened,
[01:15:38.220]to be educated because a lot of ignorance,
[01:15:44.250]can lead to human right violations,
[01:15:47.380]and I do think to try
[01:15:50.220]to heal some of these unresolved problems
[01:15:52.780]that I alluded to in my talk,
[01:15:57.090]a lot of it begins with a national discourse
[01:16:01.890]on the nature of human rights
[01:16:04.950]and the need to strengthen the human rights
[01:16:07.530]of native people.
[01:16:10.400]And to do that,
[01:16:12.220]we have to get over our reluctance to face a painful past,
[01:16:16.370]these inner demons from our history,
[01:16:18.430]tend to impugn our self-image as Americans,
[01:16:23.440]living in the most exceptional people,
[01:16:26.200]living in the most,
[01:16:29.890]the best land, best democracy.
[01:16:34.890]Because what we did to the Indians impugns a lot
[01:16:39.310]of our core values of liberty and equality.
[01:16:44.020]Lot of the human rights
[01:16:45.860]that are really homegrown as apple pie,
[01:16:49.600]were undermined by the things like slavery,
[01:16:54.090]treatment of women, other minorities and that sort of thing.
[01:16:59.660]And so we have to be willing to face up to our inner demons
[01:17:05.220]that come to us from our past.
[01:17:08.840]We have to set aside reasons for complacency.
[01:17:16.701]And finding reasons not to act,
[01:17:19.350]but to be able to get up and get involved in a discourse
[01:17:25.400]and I think our colleges,
[01:17:30.942]the Center for the Great Plain Studies,
[01:17:34.010]our educators, religious leaders
[01:17:37.130]and people of goodwill need to have a serious discourse
[01:17:43.730]and the same kind of a discourse
[01:17:46.700]that our nation had about slavery
[01:17:49.240]and it's troubling aftermath.
[01:17:51.851]We've never had such a discourse
[01:17:54.120]when it comes to our treatment of American Indians.
[01:17:58.390]That's always been the province of Western movies
[01:18:02.070]and sport mascots and that sort of thing,
[01:18:05.750]but never a serious national discourse
[01:18:09.897]and I think that that together with education
[01:18:13.160]to close the information gap would be a starting place.
[01:18:19.590]Thank you so much for that, Walter.
[01:18:25.640]I do apologize.
[01:18:26.473]We'll have to cut the Q and A little short tonight.
[01:18:28.450]We do want to provide a gift to Walter tonight
[01:18:33.577]and I would ask that Margaret rejoin us here.
[01:18:50.405]Thank you so much.
[01:18:52.633]Should I open this?
[01:18:53.939]If you want.
[01:18:59.918]I'II show y'all what I got.
[01:19:03.140]All right, a Pendleton bag and a book.
[01:19:10.380]She knows some of confirmed bookworm.
[01:19:18.370]Alright, thank you Margaret.
[01:19:21.087]"After 100 Winters in Search of Reconciliation
[01:19:25.752]"on America's Stolen Lands" by Margaret Jacobs.
[01:19:41.190]Thank you so much, Walter.
[01:19:44.120]Please join me in giving another great round of applause
[01:20:02.067]And thank you so much
[01:20:03.260]for attending this evening's E.N. Thompson Forum
[01:20:06.270]and we hope to see you for next year's season,
[01:20:08.700]which will focus on creativity
[01:20:11.240]for solving global challenges,
[01:20:12.980]which I think we should have Walter back
[01:20:15.110]for that one as well.
[01:20:16.970]So, thank you all and have a great evening.
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