Rooted in Reason: Nurturing the Seeds of Liberty

Obama and ‘First Americans’ by grassroothawaii
February 14, 2010, 3:13 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

By Phillip Bom

President Obama’s mandate to implement tribal consultation across all federal departments by February 3, 2010 jeopardizes our national sovereignty and constitutional federalism. It will fundamentally change the unique political and legal relationship between the USA and Indian tribes.

Our president is determined to fully implement President Clinton’s Executive Order 13175 relating to “Consultation and Coordination With Indian Tribal Governments.” Clinton’s decree coincided with the United Nations’ adoption in 1997 of the Declaration of the “Rights of Indigenous Peoples.” The USA and Canada voted against adoption, and this may help explain why President Clinton waited until the very end of his term to quietly issue the Executive Order.

The U.N. Declaration states that the “arrangements between States and indigenous peoples are … matters of international concern, interest, responsibility and character” and proclaims itself “a standard of achievement to be pursued in a spirit of partnership and mutual respect.” Furthermore, the Declaration repeatedly decrees that nation-states must engage in “consultation and cooperation” and implement the Declaration’s principles in the whole range of national policies, such as education, law, labor, media, environment, and natural resource management.

For President Obama, the implementation of Clinton’s executive order “is a top priority.” At the November 2009 summit meeting with the Tribal Nations (“first Americans”), President Obama ordered the development of an “action program” across multiple federal agencies and departments, such as Justice, Interior, Labor, Veterans, and Homeland Security. Even before the summit meeting, the administration had already begun to involve tribal governments as if they were a fourth level of government, equal with state and local governments.

In the past, the United States recognized Native American territories as “domestic dependent nations.” The Obama administration appears to treat them as interdependent nations. In the past, American Indians exercised self-government within their tribes, but President Obama now appears to treat them as coequal with state governments. In the past, the federal government imposed regulations and unfunded mandates on tribes; now, tribal nations are invited to help formulate U.S. national policy. The new relationship elevates tribal governments. However, it also restructures traditional tribal self-government by drawing native peoples into a form of partnership with the federal government.

President Obama’s mandate on tribal sovereignty is unsound constitutionally and federally. The Obama White House invites tribal officials to participate in “formulating policy affecting their communities.” The United States’ unique political relationship with tribal governments is now being transformed into an intergovernmental co-partnership between federal and tribal governments. Under this new functional partnership, state, local, and tribal governments are being drawn into an ever-expanding federal government, which in turn appears to be implementing U.N. international standards — even those not yet ratified by the Senate.

Additionally, the U.N. Declaration proclaims that the indigenous peoples have a right to their own external relations. “Indigenous peoples, in particular those divided by international borders, have the right to maintain and develop contacts, relations and cooperation, including activities for spiritual, cultural, political, economic and social purposes, with their own members as well as other peoples across borders.” The Declaration mandates that “States, in consultation and cooperation with indigenous peoples, shall take effective measures to facilitate the exercise and ensure the implementation of this right.”

Not surprisingly, the Obama Administration involved the State Department in the consultation process. Since indigenous peoples have the right to develop relations with other peoples across borders, our “first Americans” could soon participate in global Indigenous Peoples (I.P.) summits, such as the Arctic I.P. Summits and the Indigenous Peoples’ Summit of the Americas. If so, it is quite possible that America could have two competing external policies. It is conceivable that the USA would have two voices at different summits: one from the State Department at the Summit of the Americas, and another from tribal governments at their I.P. Summit of the Americas.

Even more significantly, the U.N. Declaration requires governments to cooperate in “the restitution or … just, fair and equitable compensation, for the lands, territories and resources … equal in quality, size and legal status or [compensation in the form] of monetary compensation.”

It is one thing to sincerely regret past policy mistakes; it is quite another to invite new potential conflicts. There could be a move to integrate Native American customs and law into our legal system. If so, what would then prevent the introduction of Sharia law into the American legal system? In addition, the adoption of this Declaration could lead to confrontations. In Bolivia, for example, there have been serious confrontations between the central and regional governments over the redistribution of power and wealth as it relates to indigenous peoples. Closer to home, Canada’s aboriginal peoples received a distinct constitutional status, and they are now acknowledged as a historic, founding peoples. The Canadian government followed through with a radical decision to return a major portion of Canada to its aboriginal peoples.

Implementing the U.N. Indigenous Peoples mandate provides an opportunity for our planetary-minded president to move the U.S. in the direction of a global neighborhood — One World of many peoples. The U.N. I.P. Declaration already considers the culture of indigenous peoples an integral part of the “common heritage of humankind.” President Obama may well find a kindred spirit among indigenous people for his vision of a common humanity that lives beyond borders.

In conclusion, President Obama’s implementation of Clinton’s Executive Order will transform the USA and tribal relations. Despite a disclaimer in the U.N. Declaration, imposing new international standards would seriously impact our national sovereignty. At stake is nothing less than the “reservation” of the United States as an independent nation-state.

Philip C. Bom is a professor of International Politics at Regent University in Virginia Beach, VA.


5 Comments so far
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DANGER Ahead??

Please read very carefully the ‘American Thinker’ article below by Professor Philip C. Bom. The newest version of the proposed Akaka bill creates an Indian Tribe for native Hawaiians right from the get-go. Think a bit about having a new federally created and endorsed nation in our Hawaii. What should we expect to happen? Who would pay for this? How? There is much to think about. Please let us have your comments– as well as those of your friends– on this blog.

-Dick Rowland

Comment by grassroothawaii

It all sounds good but how is everything related together?

Comment by teeth whitening

It’s becoming obvious that the 0bama administration’s goal is to weaken US sovereignty and promote his global, one-world government agenda. This is yet another example of such policies. On another note….it’s way past time for the US to get out of the UN!

Comment by GiliaR

One may not recall this event, but Obama’s fealty to indigenous people of the our United States trumped non-contemporaneous mention of the Fort Hood massacre in favor of an Obama “shout-out” to some D-list Indian celebrity/agitator.

Why do they care?

IMHO, here in Hawaii, Obama, Inouye, Hirono, Akaka, Abercrombie, Hannemann and their ilk hope to layer-in yet another group of federal dependents who will vote and behave as ordered by their Democrat Party bosses. Every one is a participant in a Progressive effort to marry crony-capitalism to Marxism — where the dictates of “equality of outcome” will apply to all the normal people, IOW, those who aren’t members of the nomenklatura.

America is at risk on many fronts and this yet another. Obama, Inouye and the rest need to be stoppped without delay.

Comment by Mike Rethman

For the record, the “First Americans” were the founding fathers and those who stood with them risking all to create the United States of America.
After the Civil War former slaves became American citizens.
It wasn’t until 1924 that all Indians were granted U.S. citizenship. So tell me again how this group can be considered the “First” Americans?

How dare the president divide us into groups and elevate some above the others? Everyone born here is indigenous and no one can claim more rights due to ancestry. I don’t recognize the authority of the United Nations to usurp the powers of American individuals under our Constitution to give more rights to those they consider indigenous. (Someone born in Europe to an Indian mother could be considered by the UN to be “indigenous” to America and have more rights than someone actually born on US soil without that ancestry).
There is no hierarchy of citizenship status in the United States. The compensation for previous policies of discrimination was the acceptance into the American mainstream as full citizens of all those affected.
Too many confuse the existence of dependent nations(cultures) with political sovereignty. States are sovereign yet are forced to bear the cost of federal mandates. This mandate would exempt tribes from the same costs or transfer those costs to the taxpayers. Rather than force greater costs on states and individuals with this we should be finding ways to free states from these federal government incursions.
There is nothing to gain and much to lose by this mandate.

Comment by Betty Perkowski

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