Dear White People: You have treaty rights, too

Wayne Ducheneaux

Wayne L. Ducheneaux II, executive director of the 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 reserving a place to live and 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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