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What does citizenship mean for indiginous nations?

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posted on Jul, 7 2010 @ 10:52 PM
What I wanted to comment on and query is the issue of citizenship. While it's certainly great and a common right to be a citizen, there is also a cynical position towards the term.
Most people probably know that black and white South Aricans only achieved equal citizenship in 1994.
But how many know that American Indians only became citizens of the US in 1924?
Apparently, even by the late 1960s most US people weren't even sure they were citizens at all.
Australian Aborigines only achieved full citizenship in 1967.

However, is "citizenship" just a word?
I came across two documentary snippets on Youtube from a late 1970s/1980 film called "Urban Indians".
It follows a young man from an urban squat (part 1 to the reservation (part 2 Is this kind of poverty and alienation still the norm today? I do hope things have changed.
Are indiginous peoples really just "citizens" in word? Is the film-maker manipulating things?
At least in part 2 the film-maker is confronted by somebody, and filming promptly stops.

Well, please feel free to comment and add.
Repeatedly the suggestion is that resources cannot be accessed because citizenship is withheld due to ignorance - but whose ignorance? It seems like a conveniant excuse from the powers that be - and this is a First World country!

Particularly in the context of SA (South Africa), I wonder if it is enough to call people "citizens". That word placates a lot of people, and the UN and activists, and then nothing more happens.
It's like centuries of misrule can be wiped away and blamed on the victim for being in a sorry state, because now he/she is a "citizen".

[edit on 8-7-2010 by halfoldman]

posted on Jul, 8 2010 @ 01:10 AM
reply to post by halfoldman

But I wonder, what is "not being a citizen"?
(And I'm not referring to illegal citizens from another country - which is also a displacement of citizenship.)
I suppose for true non-citizenships one is either stateless, or a charge of a state, because one is considered too child-like and uncivilized to have full citinzinship.
Reminds me of what I once read on Amazonian Indians being prevented from flying to indiginous conferences without government "minders" on the pretext that they wouldn't know how to behave on aeroplanes (meanwhile some were pilots themselves)!

posted on Jul, 13 2010 @ 12:02 PM
reply to post by halfoldman

I just watched a documentary, "Upstream Battle" on Al Jazeera (for a trailer see It documents the battle of 3 Californian tribes to save their salmon and the Klamath river from 4 unecessary dams (ultimately run by the "world's richest man", Warren Buffet).
In 2002 a major fishkill occured, as the Bush administration further compounded the problem by granting large-scale irrigation rights to local farmers.
As feedback, it now appears that the dams will be removed in 2020 (whatever that means for the salmon and Klamath culture). The tribes were also in discussions with local farmers, which was quite encouraging.
However one farmer was unimpressed, and he said that natives have no special rights to any creature above the "European", and he would question their claims and beliefs. The Klamath spokesman replied that all the lands were given in exchange for certain rights to resources and the continuation of culture. That certainly implies two views of citizenship, although the Klamath cause seems just.

[edit on 13-7-2010 by halfoldman]

posted on Jul, 13 2010 @ 12:39 PM
reply to post by halfoldman

Another sensitive issue accepted willy-nilly by the world's "citizens":
When uncontacted tribes are found (usually in Amazonia or New Guinea) who don't even know they are citizens of any "country", or that they actually exist below 3rd World poverty lines, who gets to explain it to them?
So far it seems like individuals with vested interests, like missionaries, government officials, anthroplogists or even miners, loggers, militias and reality TV pundits.
Why can't a clever spokes-person be chosen from ATS to explain it to them?
What makes some people better than others to rip tribes into a dangerously unfair world-system?

posted on Jul, 13 2010 @ 01:51 PM
reply to post by halfoldman

According to Wiki Answers my OP might be partly mistaken, it appears members of the Choctow tribe were offered citizenship in the 19th century?
Why did it take so long in any case to make all American Indians citizens?

[edit on 13-7-2010 by halfoldman]

posted on Jul, 13 2010 @ 02:02 PM
reply to post by halfoldman

Some really sad examples of stereotyping and its history in US film out there, but a really hilarious response from gay, Native American comedian Charlie Ballard:

[edit on 13-7-2010 by halfoldman]

posted on Jul, 13 2010 @ 02:03 PM

Originally posted by halfoldman
What does citizenship mean for indiginous nations?

Good question. I look at it this way. Does it matter if you are in coach or first class when the plane is going down?

We all get bar codes at the end of the day.

posted on Jul, 13 2010 @ 02:33 PM
reply to post by zroth

Thanks for that! Great comment!
I suppose, arguably, not everyone wants to be on a plane going down, and some people feel that their relationship with the earth is preventing a plane going down for their culture.
Perhaps it should lead everyone to ask what it means being a citizen?
Perhaps a right to vote, freedom of movement, or (in the US) a social security number? I'm not quite sure.
I just know that in SA in the 1980s blacks were trying to get rid of the "homeland system", which made tribal areas into "independant" states within South Africa. At the same time the Haudenausaunee (Iroquois) wanted to travel on independant passports. I'm not sure those specific issues are still relevant. However, in SA we have the remaining issue of traditional leaders and their fat salaries from the taxpayer.
I suppose in the US, the Republicans would question any "special rights" granted to minorities.

[edit on 13-7-2010 by halfoldman]

posted on Jul, 13 2010 @ 03:22 PM
sounds like you have wrapped a gift and plan to deliver it by christmas time.

posted on Jul, 13 2010 @ 03:31 PM
reply to post by Ausar

Sounds like you have a strong opinion for debate, but I'm not quite sure what it is based on the above post?
I was hoping various people could fill me in by what "citizenship" means to them, and why it is considered so highly, when it really seems to do nothing in itself (without some form of dissent).

If it's the Klamath River situation - invasive algae blooms and lack of salmon getting to their nesting grounds are urgent situations (IMO), so yes, it should be solved before Christmas.

[edit on 13-7-2010 by halfoldman]

posted on Jul, 13 2010 @ 04:45 PM
then lets kill those algae before they bloom; if we are in agreement that we both want our salmon on our christmas dinner table.but whos to stop us from saving the salmon; not even the salmon themselves, its just our food.

edit to add;
dont you need a license to fish in california, and if not isnt fishing mandated by seasons? so you have to accept being a citizen in order to get your salmon on your christmas dinner table?

[edit on 13-7-2010 by Ausar]

posted on Jul, 13 2010 @ 05:25 PM
reply to post by Ausar

According to the documentary (see trailer above) the salmon can no longer make it to their nesting grounds becauses 4 unecessary dams have been built in their way. The river hardly has any flowing water (it is diverted and pressured to run into the hydroelectric systems). The adult salmon cannot cross the dam walls on their migration paths.
Native Americans seem to have some hereditary water and fishing rights, but others also depend on the seasonal fishing.
The algae blooms are already there, and are considered to make the Klamath toxic for human consumption. The dams have stolen the flow and made remaining pools of water stagnant.
One proposed solution is "fish ladders" which in theory should allow some salmon to cross, another is to drive the salmon from remaing water to remaining water by truck (no jokes, it's being done elsewhere).
The dams make negligible power, and they are not being dismantled because of "lack of funds".

So if that's where xmas salmon comes from, perhaps better to stick to factory farmed turkey. At least they're so full of antibiotics they won't have squirming parasites in their flesh, like the Klamath salmon these days. Or so one hears...

[edit on 13-7-2010 by halfoldman]

posted on Jul, 13 2010 @ 05:44 PM

Citzenship = Slavery

I can't be any more blunt than that.
Citizenship equals census, equals obligatory taxes (eventually, in one form or another) and a way to be 'counted'.

I'm not trying to be comical.
Because in a civilized nation, you have a heirarchy, in which the rich are praised and the poor are worked.

It doesnt get any simpler than that.

Say what you will....but if you look around, I'm correct.

(especially when you live and breathe just to pay taxes)

posted on Jul, 13 2010 @ 06:05 PM
reply to post by havok

I agree totally!
It seems citizenship is imposed at birth in most nations, and it keeps one imprisoned, firstly territorially.

I cannot say that imposed Western judgement is always worse than tribal sytems. In Australia there were debates in regions about tribal vs. imposed justice. The tribal justice reverts to corporal punishment (often, spearing through the thighs for serious crimes).
It was shocking to see that aboriginal prisoners serve their sentences, and still face tribal justice upon release. Furthermore, in many countries, tribal justice is illegal in itself (cf. the debate about Sharia law).
In SA "vigilante justice" is a daily reality.

The very notion of "mercy" in justice varies widely - for some prison and isolation is a death sentence. To others corporal punishment seems unduly dated and cruel. So it seems "citizenship" holds people accountable to one Western standard in justice, and punishments that seem totally irrelevant to others.

posted on Jul, 13 2010 @ 06:39 PM
reply to post by halfoldman

What doesn't seem all that fair...
The fact that natives shouldn't be 'citizens', and therefore shouldn't be punished corporately.

Make sense?
There is a punishment for what that 'tribe' deems a crime....i.e., they have their own laws and what they deem a crime, or breaking of the 'law'...might not be so in the 'corporate' world.


I guess it is a dilemma.

posted on Jul, 18 2010 @ 05:34 PM
reply to post by halfoldman

I wonder whether post-colonial indigenous people can be automatically classed "dual citizens". It's also a paradox, since they were the original citizens, and the settlers were foreign. I suppose that's true in many ways for minority peoples with an on-going identity. But, doesn't that make them nations within nations, or internally displaced peoples?
Perhaps it is different for modern states run by indigenous peoples, like some Latin American, African or Asian countries.


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