Natives are left behind without recognition

The Native American tribes of Louisiana have been devastated following Hurricane Ida, a category four hurricane, which made landfall Aug. 29.

Ida sustained winds that measured 150 mph, which tied it with Hurricane Laura in 2020 and the Last Hurricane of 1856 as the strongest storm to hit Louisiana. A natural disaster of this magnitude devastated all residents of Louisiana, but Louisiana’s population of Native Tribes face the biggest challenge in recovering.

The United Houma Nation and other smaller tribes in Louisiana have been left to pick up the broken pieces of their livelihood alone, with no help from the federal government because they lack federal recognition. This lack of recognition essentially denies these tribes various benefits and funding from the federal government that could have helped them in their road to recovery – benefits that the government extends to all citizens living on non-Native land. Even though the State of Louisiana recognized the Houma people and several tribes, it is not the same as recognition on the national level. The federal government is leaving these people out to dry, and now this situation needs to be rectified.

According to the Office of Federal Acknowledgement within the Department of the Interior, most of the current federally recognized tribes received federal recognition status through treaties, acts of Congress, presidential executive orders or other federal administrative actions, or federal court decisions over the years since the founding of the United States. Also, in 1994 Congress enacted the Federally Recognized Indian Tribe List Act, which formally established three ways in which a native group may become federally recognized: by act of Congress, by the administrative procedures under 25 C.F.R. Part 83, or by decision of a United States court.

While it is a good thing that the process to become recognized by the federal government is thorough, it is not efficiently managed as many tribes across the nation seek their long overdue recognition.

Other than the United Houma Nation, there are other tribes in Louisiana, like the Grand Caillou/Dulac Band of Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw and the Pointe-au-Chien Indian Tribe, who have tried to get federally recognized for decades.

According to Vice, most tribes petition the Interior Department’s Office of Federal Acknowledgement and put together a packet that demonstrates how they qualify, but it is often an expensive and tedious process for these tribes. Part of the application process is a written narrative of the tribe that spans hundreds of years of history.

Obviously, this is not a problem endemic to Louisiana, but there are tribes of Native Americans who lack the federal recognition they deserve all over the country. According to Pasadena Now, one of the very oldest continuously operated community news websites in the United States, the Gabrielino-Tongva Indian Tribe, native inhabitants of Los Angeles County, have called California home for over 2,500 years and have been recognized by the state of California since 1994, but have still not been federally recognized.

The course of action seems clear, either the federal government needs to put more manpower and resources into reviewing these types of cases for recognition, or the process needs to be simplified and streamlined while also maintaining the integrity of federally recognized tribes. Not only for the situation of recovering from current and future natural disasters and other needs that federal funding could alleviate but also to at least have the decency to recognize the various tribes of Native Americans that we have oppressed and ignored for so long.

Related articles

False election claims threaten democracy

Democracy is at stake as the current Republican Party, or the new Trump Party as they should be called, continues the false narratives of Democrats stealing the presidential election from Donald Trump.

COVID-19 relief bill aims high for economic recovery

The U.S. Congress has finally passed a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package which includes another stimulus check for families and individuals who meet the criteria, extended unemployment benefits, and increased funding for vaccine distribution and the reopening of schools. 

Congress and local legislatures consider virtual voting

The U.S Congress may find itself transitioning to a system of remote voting soon due to the coronavirus pandemic, which has already already penetrated the capital walls with several members of Congress testing positive. 

We need to allocate aid to our own

The Notre-Dame Cathedral located in Paris must undergo major renovations after a massive, devastating fire broke out on April 15. 
Exit mobile version