"Let me be a free man, free to travel, free to stop, free to work, free to trade where I choose, free to follow the religion of my fathers, free to talk, think, and act for myself."
Chief Joseph, Nez Perce, 1879
“Indian sovereignty—the autonomy of the Indian person— means re-equipping Indian people with the dignity of self-sufficiency, the right not to depend upon the white man, the government, or even the tribe. This is not a new notion. It is only a circling back to the ancient and most crucial of Indian values— an understanding that the power of the tribal community is founded upon the collective energy of strong, self-sufficient, self-initiating, entrepreneurial, independent, healthful, and therefore powerful, individual persons. Human beings. Indians.”
Bill Yellowtail, Apsáalooke (Crow), “Indian Sovereignty: Dignity through Self-Sufficiency”
“Economy and culture are connected. The potlatch ban didn’t just strip away our right to cultural practices. It took away our economies because we couldn’t redistribute wealth, which is a form of income tax when you really think about it. Market ideas were actually ideas we had before and they’re not colonial.”
Juli Holloway, Haida/Kwakwaka’wakw, "Restoring Tribal Economies," Defining Ideas
"Tribes are in the middle of an emerging economic civil rights movement."
Lance Morgan, Winnebago, "The Rise of Tribes and the Fall of Federal Indian Law," Arizona State Law Journal
"We always had our own systems of self-sufficiency. Now we’re working together to bring that back. It’s about breaking down obstacles, opening doors, and building bridges."
Dalyn Bear, Whitecap Dakota
"Our tribe doesn’t question or challenge the crown’s sovereignty. We just want the crown’s recognition of our land title. We want jurisdiction over our lands."
Te Maire Tau, Ngāi Tahu
"Two-thousand-and-seventeen marks the 150th anniversary of Confederation. It’s often called the 'birth' of Canada, but Confederation didn’t bring real independence nor did it include all sovereign governments in British North America. Confederation was based on the fiction that First Nations title and jurisdiction didn’t exist — a founding myth that has been busted many times by the courts in the last 40 years."
Manny Jules, Kamloops & Harold Calla, Squamish, "Jurisdiction critical for First Nations in nation-to-nation relationship," Vancouver Sun
"Imagine if we put the energy that we use in trying to convince, change, challenge, and confront colonial systems and instead used that very same energy on reestablishing, restoring, revitalizing, and regenerating indigenous systems."
Andrea Landry, Anishinaabe from Pawgwasheeng (Pays Plat First Nation), “Let’s raise our children to fall in love with indigenous systems rather than attempting to destroy colonial systems from within.”
"It’s critical to our success to have own source revenue to do what you want on your land or to purchase more land. With setting up a land registry system through [Indigenous Land Title Initiative], we need First Nations exercising their jurisdiction in either taxation or land ownership, that’s the bottom line. We’ve got momentum now, we just need to keep pushing forward."
Jesse James, Shxw’ow’hamel, Clearing the Path
"Teach a man to fish? We don't need white people showing us how to make a net. What we need ownership is of the fish."
Te Maire Tau, Ngāi Tahu, Tulo Centre Podcast
"As tribal governmental powers have increased and tribes have entered contracts to perform more federal functions, tribal governments have proven more institutionally competent than the federal government in serving Indian people."
Kevin Washburn, Chickasaw, "What the Future Holds: The Changing Landscape of Federal Policy," Harvard Law Review
"I don't want to be dependent on the U.S. government. We have the resources. We have the manpower. We have the capability of being self-sufficient. And there's no reason why we should be this poor."
Darrin Old Coyote, Apsáalooke (Crow), NPR's Around the Nation
“Indians don’t own their own land… I have to get the permission of the agent of the United States government to even collateralize it or to borrow money against it or to do anything that, you know, any economic development that is facilitated anywhere else in the world… But what else is real here is just an undeniable hope; even an unconquerable dignity. We’re still here. Native people are still here. We’re survivors and we’re trying to turn it around.”
Chase Iron Eyes, Standing Rock Sioux, CNN’s United Shades of America
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