Anne de Graaf's blog: International-Intrigue-Injustice

20 July 2015

Tamástslikt

Filed under: Write on — annedegraaf @ 10:24 am

IMG-20150717-00460(The following is the first part of the paper I presented at the International Studies Association National Conference in New Orleans last February. The positive response to this paper by Native and non-Native academics encouraged me to pursue my research further by returning to the Umatilla Reservation. I post it here to provide background and answer questions about why I’m here. If you’re interested in reading the entire text, just let me know and I’d be happy to email it to you.)

Tamástslikt—

(to interpret, turn over, or turn around in the Walla Walla dialect):

The interpretation, turning over and turning around

of a Native community

By Anne de Graaf

Amsterdam University College, University of Amsterdam

a.m.degraaf@auc.nl

Abstract

The Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation (CTUIR) consists of three tribes, the Cayuse, Umatilla, and Walla Walla, located in northeastern Oregon. With a 10,000-year history, they view the past 180 years as a season to survive. According to their culture, the land and the people, both Native and non-Indian, make up the homeland, or regional world. The CTUIR exercises a unique pattern of governance that rejects an identity of victimization, and embraces “cooperation over confrontation.” Although they acknowledge that three generations of children were systematically humiliated and taken out of the community and forced into boarding schools, and despite a long list of land betrayals, the CTUIR has chosen what they call, a “path of survival.” Admitting that “past history is living history,” and encouraging creativity, they engineer projects crafted and implemented by local citizens, aimed at fostering understanding. Examples include innovative education policies such as a local school where children learn the tribes’ dialects and customs, earmarking profits from the reservation casino for scholarship funds and (re-)acquisition of tribal lands, salmon restoration in local rivers, and job creation. Their model for peacebuilding utilizes voice, agency, and youth and sees growing understanding as key to conflict resolution.

Introduction

The list of 566 federally-recognized Tribes within the United Sates includes the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla, Cayuse, and Walla Walla (CTUIR). Among the U.S. government and the 566 tribes there runs a tangled web of laws, treaties, court cases and appeals, in an attempt to establish human security, sovereignty and justice. National statistics on the Native American population reveal shocking statistics, such as 27 per cent living in poverty, the highest rate for any racial group in the country, and nearly double the national average (United States Census Bureau, 2013). Tribal communities undergo much higher rates of violent crime and domestic violence than the national averages (Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2011). In addition, the suicide rate of young people is 2.5 times higher among Native youth than non-Indian youth (Executive Office of the President, 2014), and Native communities seem plagued by high levels of alcoholism and substance abuse. After generations of living in such discouraging conditions, most reservations seem steeped in disheartening despair, and surrounded by local prejudice.

The CTUIR is located in northeastern Oregon. With a 10,000-year history, they view the past 180 years as a season to survive. According to their culture, the land and the people, both Native and non-Indian, make up the homeland, or regional world. The CTUIR exercises a unique pattern of governance that rejects an identity of victimization, and embraces “cooperation over confrontation.” Although they acknowledge that three generations of children were systematically humiliated and taken out of the community and forced into boarding schools, and despite a long list of land betrayals, the CTUIR has chosen what they call, a “path of survival.” Admitting that “past history is living history,” and encouraging creativity, they engineer projects crafted and implemented by local citizens, aimed at fostering understanding. Examples include innovative education policies such as a local school where children learn the tribes’ dialects and customs, earmarking profits from the reservation casino for scholarship funds and (re-)acquisition of tribal lands, salmon restoration in local rivers, and job creation. Their model for peacebuilding utilizes voice, agency, and youth and sees growing understanding as key to conflict resolution.

Due to the space limitations of this paper, it will only summarize a wide variety of aspects pertaining to the CTUIR governance model. Further research is necessary in order to more thoroughly analyze the effects of this governance model, as well as its shortcomings. But in Indian Country, as the greater national Native community is referred to, the CTUIR stands out as an exception. This paper explores its governance model, in an attempt to provide a possible governance framework which might apply to other marginalized communities. It attempts to answer the question: How did the CTUIR set itself apart and develop such a different governance model, providing much more far-reaching support to its members, than other Native communities?

This exploration of CTUIR governance first paints the picture of modern-day Native communities in the U.S. by means of several statistics. The paper then provides a brief summary of the history of the Tribes, both before and after the Treaty signed in 1855, and the ramifications of the Treaty itself. An additional historical perspective is provided by means of Native oral histories of these periods. Voice, agency and youth are key concepts within the CTUIR framework. The paper then turns to a description of the CTUIR and its governance style and traditions. In this section an attempt is made to identify the turning point in governance style and the men and women responsible for this change in direction. Examples of CTUIR governance strategies illustrate this style, and include several programs for which the Tribes have received national attention. This is followed by an examination of how CTUIR governance specifically targets its youth, in terms of education, language, identity, and employment. This section ends with quotes by two young women, whose voices act as inspiration for the Tribes, and indeed, all of Indian Country. The paper concludes with statistics and observations which act as a counterweight to the positive results outlined previously, but calls for further research to establish additional contributing factors that might be avoided, in order for this governance model to serve as an example for other marginalized groups.

1 Comment »

  1. Let’s have a look at the full paper. Len

    Comment by leosur — 20 July 2015 @ 8:25 pm | Reply


RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: