Today, Natives are often thought of in terms of race, and we are considered people of color. But American Indians specifically are also designated by the federal government as a political classification. This is because we belong to ancient Indigenous tribes that predate the existence of the United States of America and we made treaties with them. These treaties recognized our sovereignty as independent nations.
Treaties, and the U.S. government’s history of unilaterally breaching them, have had a profound effect on Native people. To be blunt, we were lied to. Treaties were used as a ruse to coax tribes out of defending their territory and to steal Native lands and resources.
…Of the payments that were made, the government often gave the money directly to traders who were supposed to supply the Dakota with rations. The withholding of rations by these traders led to the Dakota War of 1862, because the Dakota, of which there were an estimated 6,500 people, were starving.
…In 1980, in United States v. Sioux Nation of Indians, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the seizure of the Black Hills from the Lakota was a wrongful taking and that the Sioux were entitled to “just compensation” under the 5th Amendment’s “Takings Clause.” The Lakota refuse to accept the money, because the Black Hills are not for sale. To this day, they rightfully belong to the Great Sioux Nation.
(It’s worth repeating: not your mother’s Teen Vogue)