Indigenous census numbers rise, court affirms health care as a treaty right, and This Day in History

In this blog:

  • The number of Indigenous people in the U.S. jumps, Census says
  • Federal court affirms health care as a treaty right
  • This Day in History: The Treaty of Paris and Great Britain’s betrayal of Native allies

The number of Indigenous people in U.S. up 160 percent, Census says

U.S There are 9.7 million American Indians and Alaska Natives in the United States, according to U.S. data released in August. That’s a 160 percent increase from 2010. They now represent nearly 3 percent of the population.

Some 3.7 million identified as Native American alone. Another 5.9 million people identified as American Indian and Alaska Native and another race group, such as White or Black or African American.

“The outcome quelled fears that pandemic protocol restrictions would doom Native America to be even more undercounted than in previous national surveys,” according to an article in Indian Country Today.

The Census Bureau attributed some of the increase to better methodology, the article said.

“For the first time ever, the checkbox for reporting American Indian and Alaska Native identities included examples, said Nicholas Jones, Race and Ethnicity Research and Outreach director for the Census Bureau. “They were: ‘Navajo Nation, Blackfeet Tribe, Mayan, Aztec, Native Village of Barrow Inupiat Tribal Government, Nome Eskimo Community, etc.’ Also for the first time, this checkbox category included a dedicated write-in area to submit such heritage specifics.”

Click here for full article.

Federal court affirms health care as a treaty right

Native people now have a stronger legal claim to receive health services as a treaty right, according to a recent court ruling.

An article in Indian Country Today explains it.

The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 on Aug. 25 that healthcare is a treaty right guaranteed to the Rosebud Sioux Tribe by the 1868 Treaty of Fort Laramie.

Although a number of treaties call for the provision of medical services for tribes, federally funded health care for Native people is authorized by legislation, such as the Snyder Act of 1921 and the permanent reauthorization of the Indian Health Care Improvement Act.

In ruling that competent health care is a treaty right, however, the court imbues it with the power of the U.S Constitution in which treaty rights are considered to be the supreme law of the land.

Indian Country Today

Click here for the full article.

This Day in History, 1783: The Treaty of Paris and Great Britain’s betrayal of Native allies

The United States and Great Britain signed the Treaty of Paris on Sept. 3, 1783, ending the U.S. Revolutionary War. Less well known is how the treaty claimed Indigenous lands between the colonies and the Mississippi River.

In Article I of the treaty, Britain acknowledges that the United States, viz., “New Hampshire, Massachusetts Bay, Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia, to be free sovereign and independent states …”

Article II of the treaty, Britain acknowledges that the United States’ boundaries extended beyond those colonies to lands the British once claimed, lands the British King had pledged as an Indian Reserve.

A bit of context. By the 1700s, France had colonized a vast swath of land that extended from the Gulf of Mexico to Hudson’s Bay in what is now Canada. (See New France.) Britain’s quest to take over these lands sparked the Seven Years War.

New France. Image: Wikipedia

(Note: Both Britain’s and France’s land claims were based on the Doctrine of Discovery, a religious and legal framework used by European powers to claim lands as long as there weren’t Christians already occupying it.)

Britain won the Seven Years War. France relinquished its land claims at the 1763 Treaty of Paris.

In King George’s Royal Proclamation of 1763, he forbade settlements west of the 13 Colonies, making it an Indian Reserve, according to Wikipedia.

Britain and colonial land speculators and potential settlers were angered by the Proclamation,” Wikipedia writes. “[A]ccess to western lands was one of the first significant areas of dispute between Britain and the colonies and would become a contributing factor leading to the American Revolution.”

Fast forward to the 1783, the Treaty of Paris makes no mention of the Indian Reserve or Indigenous rights within the United States, rights the King had made in his proclamation. Britain remained silent, even though it had recruited Native Nations to fight along their side during the Revolutionary War.

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