May 24 2019 - Tribal treaties are still the supreme law of the land by Harold Frazier
On Monday the United States Supreme Court decided to rule on a very important case involving treaty rights. While the basic arguments within the case can be picked apart and subjected to opinion and interpretation there remains a much more important message. The treaties made between the United States and Native Nations are important documents that determine much more than many people realize.
Treaties made are not merely “Indian” treaties, but United States treaties that are guaranteed under Article 6 of the United States constitution as the “supreme law of the land”. All laws are to be made “in pursuant thereof” and not conflict with the constitution and treaties.
Too often the rights outlined in treaties have been abused by the Federal government with laws and legislation that conflict with the treaties.
We have been sovereign nations on this land prior to any states ever existing on this land. Every treaty made with Native Nations is a skeleton in the closet of the United States. The United States will only honor the treaties it makes when they are forced to do it.
I applaud the Justices on the United States Supreme Court for understanding the importance of the very documents that are designed to initiate and promote peace among our peoples. I would like to personally thank Mr. Herrera and the Crow Tribe for taking a stand and winning a victory for all Native Nations.
This decision reinforces the United States desire to live in peace while respecting our rights. I have hope that this will encourage the United States and Tribal governments to visit our respective responsibilities in the treaties.
Harold Frazier is serving his third term as chairman of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, based in South Dakota. He previously served as vice chair of his tribe and previously as an area vice president for the National Congress of American Indians.