The Sovereignty Of Native Nations

Native Americans have been in the news recently due to Thanksgiving and, well, Trump’s comments in front of Code Talkers (of all people) about Elizabeth Warren.

I have my own news to share. I have a Choctaw daughter. Her father and I are currently enrolling her in the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. We waited until she was older to do this for many reasons.

I went on the Florida Department of Health’s website to look up ordering the proper birth certificate for her application. When I got to the site, I saw that there are special birth certificates for foreign governments.

The question arose: is the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma a foreign government?

This is a real question because, technically and under U.S. law, tribal nations are “domestic dependent nations.” What does that even mean? What other examples of a domestic, dependent nation do we have?

Federal Indian Law is incoherent and illogical. Are tribes a different, sovereign governments or are they not?

This, of course, is a practical matter for me because I need the proper birth certificate to enroll my daughter. But it’s also a matter of what’s legally correct (even if the law is unjust) and a matter of good and just.

If we are serious about justice for tribal nations, I think we should be serious about decolonization. Currently, the United States is colonizing tribal nations and has been since its founding. Undoing this would be the right thing to do. What this looks like in practical terms is still unclear to me, but I know that any movement toward decolonization is a step forward.

So, I’ve decided I’m taking one small step forward and ordering the birth certificate for foreign governments. Because doing otherwise would lessen the sovereignty and dignity of the Choctaw Nation.

It is yet to be seen whether I will be allowed to order a birth certificate for such purposes and whether the Choctaw Nation will accept it. But, for now, this is the route I’m going.

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