A Native American Perspective on the Government Shutdown

by RUTH HOPKINS

They’ve done it. A mere thirty Republican Tea Party extremists have managed to shut down the U.S. government, potentially tanking a national economy that’s already on life support. Ironically enough, the flawed logic behind their congressional temper tantrum, to defund the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (coined Obamacare) by taking the country hostage, was a complete and utter failure. Obamacare remains unscathed by the shut down and full online enrollment in the program began October 1, 2013.

So here sits the grand Ol’ U.S. of A. National Parks, landmarks, museums, zoos, and the WIC (Women, Infants and Children) program will close its doors. Scores of government agencies will be staffed by a paltry skeleton of essential personnel, who will be working without pay. For example, over 94% of all Environmental Protection Agency employees will be sent home, on furlough. The Bureau of Indian Affairs is also bare bones. Who stays in office? The Internal Revenue Service and Federal Courts. Yay! (*sarcasm*) The President and Congress will also continue to receive full pay and benefits.

Native Americans are hardly trusting of the Federal Government, and with good reason. Genocide by disease, starvation and outright massacre, colossal theft of our lands and resources, attempts to assimilate us by kidnapping our children and outlawing our ceremonies, the Trail of Tears, the Trail of Broken Treaties, and ongoing acts of terror against not only Native Americans but Indigenous peoples abroad, all under the banner of Manifest Destiny and The Doctrine of Discovery, are proof positive that this new Roman Empire is not only deceitful, but negligent and culpable of crimes against humanity itself. The colonial forefathers of this country claimed a divine right to rule it. I’ve got news for you. It was a sham, a hustle, a con. This form of government now fosters a greed driven, power hungry, capitalistic fascist theocracy where mega corporations and lobbyists pull the strings while millions of numb, apathetic, brainwashed citizens drool in front of TV screens, ignorant of their own power. It is a cancer upon Ina Maka (Mother Earth) and must be excised. Change must come, or it will be forced upon us. The Emperor has no clothes!

Native Americans aren’t panicking. Every apparent problem is a budding opportunity and this dilemma is no exception. They are the largest minority group in North and South Dakota. In recent years, Native Americans have proven that their vote can determine election results. As a Native American, I say it’s time for us to bolster support for congressional candidates who will run against those who are responsible for the shutdown. Senator Thune (SD-R), Congresswoman Noem (SD-R) and Congressman Cramer (ND-R) have all revealed their true colors through this shutdown and by voting to take away food stamps for poor citizens who need them just a few weeks ago. These elected officials are acting like tea party extremists who care more about political posturing than being the voice of those they ‘represent.’ Among their constituents are Native Americans who live in the poorest counties in the nation, which are all located on Indian reservations.

Further, we Native Americans should use this as an opportunity to mold our future into one that promotes real Tribal sovereignty. Let’s get off the government tit- enough with ‘trust responsibilities’ and being relegated to ‘domestic dependent nation’ status. We can grow and become truly independent once more, as our ancestors were. There are real economic development opportunities out there, in the green energy sector, for example. We can grow our own food, and even get into the organic foods business. We don’t have to compromise our traditional lifeways to have abundance. The secret to our livelihood is our culture and beliefs- our traditional arts, teachings, and modes of healing. We have everything we need because we belong to the land. It provides for us. We’re built for it. The economy of our Native American ancestors established is sustainable long term. Governments rise and fall all the time. The United States is only 237 years old. Our ancestors sustained themselves here for thousands of years. Thanks to ancient teachings that have been passed down to us and our incredible ability to adapt, Indigenous peoples shall remain.

In the meantime, some feisty Native American women around the country are contemplating how we go about reclaiming our homelands while the government continues to spiral out of control and the Empire crumbles into disrepair. We’ve got our Tribal flags are ready.  There’s an old saying, “A Nation is not conquered until the hearts of it’s women are on the ground.” While our moccasins may be on the ground ready to fight for our people and lands, our hearts are soaring.

Ruth Hopkins is a writer, blogger, ethnoscientist, administrator, Chief Judge of the Spirit Lake Nation, a founding writer for Lastrealindians.com, and a columnist for Indian Country Today Media Network. 

 

Ruth Hopkins (Sisseton-Wahpeton and Mdewakanton Dakota, Hunkpapa Lakota) is an author, blogger, biologist, activist, judge, columnist for Indian Country Today Media Network, and founding writer with Lastrealindians.com.

Like What You’ve Read? Support CounterPunch
September 02, 2015
Paul Street
Strange Words From St. Bernard and the Sandernistas
Jose Martinez
Houston, We Have a Problem: False Equivalencies on Police Violence
Henry Giroux
Global Capitalism and the Culture of Mad Violence
Ajamu Baraka
Making Black Lives Matter in Riohacha, Colombia
William Edstrom
Wall Street and the Military are Draining Americans High and Dry
David Altheide
The Media Syndrome Between a Glock and a GoPro
Yves Engler
Canada vs. Africa
Ron Jacobs
The League of Empire
Andrew Smolski
Democracy and Privatization in Neoliberal Mexico
Stephen Lendman
Gaza: a Socioeconomic Dead Zone
Norman Pollack
Obama, Flim-Flam Artist: Alaska Offshore Drilling
Binoy Kampmark
Australian Border Force Gore
Ruth Fowler
Ask Not: Lost in the Crowd with Amanda Palmer
Kim Nicolini
Remembering Wes Craven’s The Hills Have Eyes
September 01, 2015
Mike Whitney
Return to Crisis: Things Keep Getting Worse
Michael Schwalbe
The Moral Hazards of Capitalism
Eric Mann
Inside the Civil Rights Movement: a Conversation With Julian Bond
Pam Martens
How Wall Street Parasites Have Devoured Their Hosts, Your Retirement Plan and the U.S. Economy
Jonathan Latham
Growing Doubt: a Scientist’s Experience of GMOs
Fran Shor
Occupy Wall Street and the Sanders Campaign: a Case of Historical Amnesia?
Joe Paff
The Big Trees: Cockburn, Marx and Shostakovich
Randy Blazak
University Administrators Allow Fraternities to Turn Colleges Into Rape Factories
Robert Hunziker
The IPCC Caught in a Pressure Cooker
George Wuerthner
Myths of the Anthropocene Boosters: Truthout’s Misguided Attack on Wilderness and National Park Ideals
Robert Koehler
Sending Your Children Off to Safe Spaces in College
Jesse Jackson
Season of the Insurgents: From Trump to Sanders
August 31, 2015
Michael Hudson
Whitewashing the IMF’s Destructive Role in Greece
Conn Hallinan
Europe’s New Barbarians
Lawrence Ware
George Bush (Still) Doesn’t Care About Black People
Joseph Natoli
Plutocracy, Gentrification and Racial Violence
Franklin Spinney
One Presidential Debate You Won’t Hear: Why It is Time to Adopt a Sensible Grand Strategy
Dave Lindorff
What’s Wrong with Police in America
Louis Proyect
Jacobin and “The War on Syria”
Lawrence Wittner
Militarism Run Amok: How Russians and Americans are Preparing Their Children for War
Binoy Kampmark
Tales of Darkness: Europe’s Refugee Woes
Ralph Nader
Lo, the Poor Enlightened Billionaire!
Peter Koenig
Greece: a New Beginning? A New Hope?
Dean Baker
America Needs an “Idiot-Proof” Retirement System
Vijay Prashad
Why the Iran Deal is Essential
Tom Clifford
The Marco Polo Bridge Incident: a History That Continues to Resonate
Peter Belmont
The Salaita Affair: a Scandal That Never Should Have Happened
Weekend Edition
August 28-30, 2015
Randy Blazak
Donald Trump is the New Face of White Supremacy
Jeffrey St. Clair
Long Time Coming, Long Time Gone
Mike Whitney
Looting Made Easy: the $2 Trillion Buyback Binge
Alan Nasser
The Myth of the Middle Class: Have Most Americans Always Been Poor?