There are a number of issues here that bear addressing, but I would like to focus on the Constitutional argument as a means of undermining the basic premise of “special” privileges extended to tribal people.
As members of sovereign nations who have made treaty with the U.S., Natives are, by definition, not like other citizens of the United States of America. They have more rules and regulations to abide by that define who they are based upon their tribal membership.
In the Constitution, it clearly delineates the Executives’ ability to make treaties, which are then recognized as the second highest law in the land (Art. II, sec. II, clause II & Art. VI, clause II). States can’t make treaties, nor municipalities, counties or commonwealths. Only sovereign nations can make treaties as defined by international law.
The treaties between the tribes and the U.S. government do not levy the tribes “special” anything. What it provides is similar to the legal construction called and “easement”. The tribes reserved certain rights through the contract between sovereigns.
I would advise that you revisit this article after taking courses by Dr. Jeanette Weaskus, Dr. Kimberly Christen, Dr. Richard King, Dr. Margaret Reed or any other number of instructors on campus on the subject of Native studies. What I have provided is simply a running peek through a keyhole at a very complex issue. It would serve you to do some due diligence before addressing such an issue in the future.
I found Michael Cronin’s opinion about tribal rights to harvest bald eagles misguided and offensive. Firstly, it’s likely the ceremonies of a relevant portion of federally recognized tribes do not include bald eagles, and would not require permits. Tribes and the federal government work together every day successfully managing other harvested species with healthy populations. Preventing habitat destruction and outlawing DDT brought eagles back, not only strict hunting and ownership regulations. If the author were a biologist, his projections for the population would be more valuable. Like for the Northern Arapaho, I trust other Fish & Wildlife scientists will assess the health of local populations with any tribes that request a harvest permit.
Bald eagles are intrinsically valuable to many Americans, but Native Americans have older and more clearly guided traditions with the animal. Cronin acknowledges the eagle as an “American icon” while disregarding its other cultural significance. In addition to not knowing why they were endangered in the first place, Cronin’s final paragraph suggests it’s not the bald eagles he values, but Native American rights he undervalues. The treatment of tribes and tribal land in North America had severe cultural and economic repercussions that are experienced in the present. Special rights for ceremonies that are older than American colonization is not government pity, it’s overdue recognition and restoration of cultures that were substantially oppressed by the government.
My last question is: What is a “normal” American?
research assistant, School of the Environment