The world is a mess! That may even be an understatement. I have been hoping that it would not be necessary for me to break our current focus, but the time has come and I can no longer stay silent.
For years, many many years – since before the beginning of this country our Native American brothers and sisters have been treated as less than human. The following words appear four paragraphs from the end of the Declaration of Independence:
He [the present King of Great Btitain] has executed insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontier, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
Our Native American ancestors are excluded by name, “merciless Imdian Savages, from the beloved words found in the early part of the document.
We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
I WRITE THIS POST IN SUPPORT OF THE BRAVE NATIVE AMERICANS WHO ARE CURRENTLY TAKING A STAND TO PROTECT THEIR LAND AND WATER FROM LARGE COMPANIES AND MAJOR BANKS WITH THE COMPLICITY OF THE UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT AND THE MAIN STREAM MEDIA. THIS IS YET ANOTHER OCCURENCE OF THE RICH AND POWERFUL TREATING THE NATIVE PEOPLES AS THOSE WHO REMAIN SUB-HUMAN.
Following is some more information to help our understanding of this outrageous situation.
The 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution officially abolished, and continues to prohibit, slavery, and, with limited exceptions, prohibits involuntary servitude. Prior to its ratification, slavery remained legal only in Delaware and Kentucky, everywhere else; the slaves had been freed by state action and the federal government’s Emancipation Proclamation executive order.
The 14th Amendment is one of the post-Civil War amendments, also known as the Reconstruction Amendments that was first intended to secure rights for former slaves. It includes the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses among others. It was proposed on June 13, 1866, and ratified on July 28, 1868. It is perhaps the most significant structural change to the Constitution since the passage of the Bill of Rights . . . This Amendment provides a broad definition of national citizenship, and overturned the Dred Scott case, which excluded Blacks. It requires the states to provide equal protection under the law to all persons, not just to citizens, within their jurisdictions and was used in the mid-20th century to dismantle legal segregation, as in Brown v. Board of Education. The Due Process Clause has driven important and controversial cases regarding privacy rights, abortion, and other issues.
The 15th Amendment is the last of the three “Reconstruction amendments” that passed after the Civil War. This amendment prohibits the states or the federal government from using a citizen’s race, color or previous status as a slave to be a voting qualification. Its basic purpose was to enfranchise former slaves who weren’t allowed to vote and weren’t even considered American citizens prior. The first person to vote under the provisions of the amendment was Thomas Mundy Peterson who cast his ballot in a school board election held on February 4, 1870, the day after the 15th Amendment was ratified. But it was not really until the Voting Rights Act in 1965, almost a century later, that the full promise of the 15th Amendment was actually achieved in all states.
After the passage on a per capita and absolute basis, more Blacks were elected to political office during the period from 1865 to 1880 than at any other time in American history. Although no state elected a Black governor during Reconstruction, a number of state legislatures were effectively under the control of a substantial Black caucus. These legislatures brought in programs such as, universal public education that are considered part of government’s new duty, but at the time were seen as radical. They also set aside all racially-biased laws, even those prohibiting interracial marriage, or miscegenation. (http://www.blackhistory.com/content/60916/13th-14th-and-15th-amendments).
Sadly, however, Native Americans were not granted citizenship until 1924, because the reservations and territories of the Native peoples were not considered to be part of the United States. Also, voting rights and qualifications remained under the prevue of the individual states. Native Americans who resided in New Mexico and Arizona still had not been granted voting privileges as late as 1948.
The Voting Rights Act of 1965 should have solved the problem, but it was not until a 1976 amendment of that act that Native Americans were designated as a group that could no longer suffer from voting exclusion.
And that is not the end – the Supreme Court gutted many provisions of the Voting Rights Act in 2013 when it ruled that certain sections were not constitutional because the provisions were ruled to “no longer be responsive to current conditions.”
In a related situation my own ancestors were part of the forced relocation later known as the Trail of Tears. I will speak to that matter in my next post.
Grace and peace