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A Plea for Equal Presentation -- American Indian Flags

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  • Rob Schmidt
    http://www.theprovidenceamerican.com/article_detail.cfm?article_id=323 By: Associated Press Article Posted: July 20, 2010 A Plea for Equal Presentation --
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 2, 2010

      By: Associated Press Article
      Posted: July 20, 2010

      A Plea for Equal Presentation -- American Indian Flags

      The United States Constitution recognizes Indian tribes as distinct governments -- a "Nation-within-a-Nation" status between the
      federal government and 565 Indian tribes. The flag of the United States is one of the nation's most widely recognized symbols.
      Throughout the world it is used in public discourse to refer to the U.S., not only as a nation, state, government, with a set of
      policies, but also as an ideology, and a set of ideals.

      However, the U.S. flag fails to acknowledge in the canton or "union" (50 white stars on a blue field) the 565 Indian tribal nations
      within our nation, thus excluding Indians from society. Our nations young school children are not taught that the fifty stars on
      the union jack represent fifty Native nations, that later became the United States of America through conquest. Tragically, the
      development of the United States is drenched in blood (usually Indian), stolen lands (always Indian), and broken promises. Yet
      despite removal, allotment, and termination, the tribes remain as viable political and cultural entities.

      The "white washing" of history, represented by the American flag, also creates an opportunity for conflict for American Indian
      youth. For some, it reminds them of their social position in their schools and in public as a vanquished race; affecting school
      performance and self-esteem. Most classroom educators do not provide discussion on acknowledgement procedures and how it has
      restored many Indian tribes. Tribes have their own flags taking great pride in their culture and their continued existence for
      thousands of years that has had many influences on modern-day American culture. The lack of public presentation of American Indian
      flags should be viewed as racist and as an illegal denial of Indian civil rights and sovereign status.

      If we are trying to add balance to the discourse and presentation of our collective history, I would like to suggest hanging tribal
      flags (tribes who occupy a particular state) on public buildings and schools along with the U.S. and state flag as a conscious
      effort towards inclusivity for its sovereign neighbors. For example, The State of Rhode Island could post the U.S., state and
      Narragansett Tribe (the principle people of Rhode Island) flags together on one pole. Rhode Island would not have existed if it were
      not for the kindness and generosity of Narragansett Sachems Canonicus and Miantinoomo and their people, who gifted land to Roger
      Williams to conduct his "lively experiment," what we now call Rhode Island and Providence Plantations.

      I ask all American Indian leaders and their people to join me in this effort asking President Obama for his assistance in this
      matter by writing letters and making phone calls to the White House. Have your tribal community speak to your local officials about
      hanging your tribes flag in public places on permanent display.

      Although flags wave on American Indian reservations, some Indian schools, unfurled at Indian ceremonies and few public places like
      the Millioke Meadows at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort in Farmington, Pennsylvania and the Crow flag displayed at the First Baptist
      Church in Jackson, Mississippi, there are no permanent American Indian flags continuously on display in Washington, DC. A parade of
      American Indian flags would be an honorable gesture as part of our countries reconciliation effort with American Indian tribes and
      their people.

      Julianne Jennings, Nottoway
      Adjunct Professor and American Indian Social Justice Advocate
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