I extend my warmest greetings to you on behalf of the Ouachita Yamassee Creek Muskogee Caddo Nation, an ancient Indigenous nation with a rich history deeply rooted in this sacred land. As the Minister of Internal Affairs, it is my honor and responsibility to address the urgent matters and aspirations of our sovereign nation, and today, I write to you with a plea for understanding, solidarity, and the pursuit of justice.
Our nation, like many Indigenous communities worldwide, has faced centuries of adversity, dispossession, and attempts to erase our cultural identity. The story of the Ouachita Yamassee Creek Muskogee Caddo Nation is one of resilience and unwavering determination to protect our heritage. It is a story that resonates with Indigenous peoples globally, as we have all grappled with the consequences of colonization, forced assimilation, and the systemic oppression of our communities.
The Purpose of Our Correspondence
The purpose of this letter is multifaceted. It serves as an expression of our sovereignty and the inherent right to address the pressing issues that affect our nation. Additionally, it is an invitation to all who read these words, Indigenous and non-Indigenous alike, to join us in a journey toward reconciliation, justice, and mutual respect.
I. Our Historical Context
To fully comprehend the depth of our plea, it is essential to acknowledge the historical context that has shaped the Ouachita Yamassee Creek Muskogee Caddo Nation’s experience:
1.1. Centuries of Resilience:
- Our nation’s history dates back to time immemorial, with ancestral roots deeply intertwined with the land and its bountiful resources.
- For generations, we have safeguarded our culture, language, and traditions despite external pressures.
1.2. Colonization and Dispossession:
- The arrival of European settlers brought a wave of colonization that threatened our sovereignty and way of life.
- Treaties and agreements often resulted in the dispossession of our ancestral lands and the forced relocation of our people.
1.3. Cultural Suppression:
- The imposition of foreign customs, languages, and religions aimed to erase our unique cultural identity and spiritual beliefs.
- Indigenous communities, including ours, have faced the trauma of boarding schools, where our children were forcibly separated from their families and cultures.
II. Blood Quantum Laws and Their Legacy
One of the most poignant legacies of colonization is the imposition of Blood Quantum Laws, which have had a profound impact on our nation and Indigenous communities across the Americas:
2.1. Colonial Imposition:
- Blood Quantum Laws were a colonial imposition that quantified Indigenous identity based on perceived genetic purity.
- These laws perpetuated the notion that our identity could be reduced to a mathematical formula, a concept fundamentally flawed and destructive.
2.2. Disenrollment and Cultural Loss:
- The strict application of Blood Quantum Laws has led to the disenrollment of individuals from our nation, resulting in the loss of cultural ties and benefits.
- Indigenous identity should be defined by cultural connections and community, not a fraction of blood.
2.3. Erasure of Complexity:
- Blood Quantum Laws oversimplify the rich tapestry of Indigenous identity by reducing it to numerical thresholds.
- The complexity of our heritage, which encompasses Indigenous and African roots, is often overlooked and dismissed.
III. Reclaiming Indigenous Identity and Rights
The time has come for us to collectively address the injustices that have persisted for far too long and work toward the restoration of Indigenous identity, culture, and rights:
3.1. Reclamation of Indigenous Identity:
- We call for the recognition of the right of melanated Indigenous peoples, often mislabeled as “African-American,” “Negro,” or “Black,” to reclaim their rightful Indigenous identity.
- This reclamation is not only a matter of justice but a powerful act of cultural preservation.
3.2. Removal of Colonial Restrictions:
- We urge the removal of colonial restrictions that hinder melanated Indigenous peoples from accessing their tribal enrollment, regardless of blood quantum.
- Indigenous identity should be determined by cultural and community connections, not external standards.
3.3. Cultural Reconnection:
- We are prepared to support melanated Indigenous communities in their journey to reconnect with their ancestral lands, languages, and traditions.
- This process is not only a return to one’s roots but a revitalization of Indigenous cultures and languages.
IV. Indigenous Solidarity and Unity
4.1. A Shared Struggle:
- Our struggle against colonization, cultural erasure, and oppression is shared with Indigenous communities worldwide.
- We recognize the strength that comes from unity and the power of collective action.
4.2. Overcoming Systemic Racism:
- Together, we stand against systemic racism and discrimination, advocating for justice, equality, and the respect of Indigenous rights.
- The fight against these injustices requires solidarity and collaboration across borders and identities.
4.3. A Global Indigenous Family:
- We are part of a global Indigenous family, encompassing diverse cultures, languages, and traditions.
- Our unity strengthens our voices and reinforces our commitment to preserving Indigenous heritage.
V. A Call to Action
5.1. Advocacy and Awareness:
- We call upon Indigenous Nations and organizations worldwide to advocate for the rights and recognition of melanated Indigenous peoples.
- Awareness of the struggles and aspirations of these communities is essential to our collective journey.
5.2. Policy Reform:
- Governments and tribal authorities should reconsider enrollment criteria, ensuring they are inclusive, culturally sensitive, and free from colonial restrictions.
- It is incumbent upon us to dismantle the legacy of Blood Quantum Laws.
5.3. Community Dialogue:
- Dialogue between Indigenous communities and melanated Indigenous groups is a crucial step in building bridges and fostering mutual understanding.
- This dialogue should be characterized by respect, empathy, and a commitment to shared goals.
Conclusion: Embracing a Shared Future
In closing, the Ouachita Yamassee Creek Muskogee Caddo Nation extends an open hand, heart, and spirit to all who read these words. Together, we can dismantle the oppressive legacy of Blood Quantum Laws and work toward a future where all Indigenous peoples, regardless of their appearance or historical experiences, are recognized, respected, and empowered to reconnect with their roots, culture, and heritage.
As the Minister of Internal Affairs, I am committed to facilitating this journey of reclamation and reconciliation. Let our unity be a beacon of hope for a brighter and more inclusive future for all Indigenous communities. Together, we shall continue the legacy of resilience that has defined our shared history.
With gratitude and determination,
Mizraim Eagle Panther Ra Minister of Internal Affairs Ouachita Yamassee Creek Muskogee Caddo Nation