Good early morning Sisters and Brothers,

As a blogger who uses wordpress I can see certain reports.  I can see how many people viewed the content, I can see trends in readership, I can see countries who tune in to the blog and I can see “search terms”.  What I mean by a search term is when a person goes to a search engine such as Yahoo, MSN, or Google and attempts to find the Choctaw Voting Block Political party blog and what phrases or words the are using to find it.

A particular phrase caught my attention: “is it discrimination to not hire a non cdib person”.  I have thought about this particular phrase for a couple of days now and I feel the need to explain the concept of sovereignty as it pertains to American Indian tribes.  For our friends in Canada, Mexico and those African countries who are regular readers this explanation I am about to give may not apply to you but all indigenous people should know their rights within their own country – know those rights down to the very last punctuation my friends.

Here in the United States tribal entities are granted certain rights and we do not have to follow certain federal and state guidelines because we are sovereign dependent nations residing in the borders of the U.S.  As American Indians we are citizens of the U.S., we are citizens of our own tribes and our relationship to the Federal Government resembles that of a state.

We have not always had this status.  That is how our children were forced into boarding schools, this is how our people were forced to relocate.  Before our sovereign rights were reinstated our religions were prohibited and we were not citizens of the United States.  Countless atrocities were committed against American Indians from murderous slaughters to mineral rights infringement.  We were not allowed to control our own tribal lands which led to the embezzlement, loss and infringement of our rights by the nahullo trustees. 

So you see ALL tribes must protect their sovereignty so it cannot be challenged in the federal court system.  No tribe wants to be the one who lessens the sovereignty of us all.  No tribe wants to be the one who sets a precedence for weakening our right to govern ourselves (which putting it very simply IS tribal sovereignty).

Now back to the CDIB question.  As in the building of a house if we were looking at the foundation of tribal sovereignty one of the cornerstones would be INDIAN PREFERENCE.  Can Halliburton say in its job postings that preference will be given to indian applicants?  Can Joe’s Diner say indian preference in their hiring?  No they cannot.

Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 American Indian tribes were granted indian preference in relation to employment.

There is a flip side to this protection.  If a tribe doesn’t treat their American Indian employees well the federal government agency (EEOC) which handles discrimination is powerless to protect the tribal citizen.  There is little to nothing that can be done.  Hence, this is why each tribe in the United States should have a Tribal Employee Rights Organization it not only makes political sense but it makes HUMAN sense.

So, to answer the inquiry.  No it is not illegal to not hire someone just because they do not have a CDIB, if that non-cdib person is applying for a position within a federally recognized tribe.  The United States granted tribes the right to have CDIB preference and American Indian Preference should be guarded by every single tribe in the United States. 

If the leadership within a tribe doesn’t honor indian preference or tribal employee rights then they should be voted out by tribal members and replaced with leadership that understands the absolute importance of sovereignty.

I for one do not ever want to turn over our lands, water rights or children to any other entity “entrusted” with our well-being ever again. 

Yakoke,

MW/CW

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