By Tim Giago (Nanwica Kciji)
The Republican candidate for the presidency of the United States brought it up first.
Donald Trump suggested that the 14th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States be changed. That amendment automatically guarantees the right of citizenship to anyone born on American soil, even if the child's parents are in the United States illegally.
Trump's suggestion to deny citizenship to illegal immigrants immediately raised a stink amongst some of his Republican opponents, all of the Democrats running for president, judges, lawyers and the Hispanic community.
The 14th Amendment was ratified on July 9, 1868 as one of the reconstruction actions taken at the end of the Civil War to protect the rights of former slaves.
Did the 14th Amendment bring automatic citizenship to American Indians? No, it did not. It took 56 more years after ratification for Indians to be finally awarded citizenship in 1924. The U.S. Constitution, which is the final arbitrator of American law, is filled with flaws when it comes to the American Indians.
Where were those defenders of the 14th Amendment when Indians were still considered non-citizens even though they had been born on this soil, long before it was America? How did the government skirt this obvious discriminatory interpretation of the 14th Amendment? Quite simply, the government named American Indians wards of the government, which is a euphemism for "children" unable to understand or participate as a full-fledged citizen of the United States.
By naming Indians as wards instead of citizens, the government was able to take a free hand in divesting the sovereign Indian nations of land and natural resources. If the Indian was merely a ward instead of a citizen, the government was able to treat them as children, unable to fend for themselves thus allowing the government to make all of the decisions regarding land and resources for them. It was financially feasible for the government to keep the Indian people as wards.
During that period of 1868 to 1924, millions of acres of land was legally appropriated (a euphemism for stolen) from the American Indians. African slaves brought to this country on slave ships and in chains became American citizens before the people indigenous to this country.
The 14th Amendment replaced the U. S. Supreme Court's Dred Scott decision, which said that black slaves were not and could not be U. S. citizens.
Many heinous acts were perpetrated against the "wards" of the U.S. from 1868 to 1924 including the illegal taking of the Sacred Black Hills of the Great Sioux Nation. So when those protectors of the 14th Amendment climb up on their soap boxes and pontificate about the sanctity of this Constitutional amendment they totally overlook and deny the irrefutable fact that thousands upon thousands of indigenous Americans were denied citizenship by an act that would supposedly bring an end to discrimination in America by making all Americans equal.
Tim Giago, Editor Emeritus of Native Sun News can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org