Dear White People: You have treaty rights, too

Wayne Ducheneaux

Wayne L. Ducheneaux II, executive director of Native Governance Center, recalled being in a room with a mix of Indigenous and non-Indigenous people, and the moderator asked: “Would everyone with treaty rights raise your hands.”

“Every Indian’s hand shot up and every non-Indian’s hand stays down,” he recalled.

It’s an icebreaker Ducheneaux now uses to open a discussion about how everyone has treaty rights, non just Indians. “It’s just that those rights are vested differently,” he said.

“For Tribal nations, treaty rights are about securing a homeland and asserting the right to self-determination.” he said. “Non Indian people have treaty rights as well. Their vesting is their ability to occupy space that Tribal nations vacated.”

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