“Get Over It”

Life after disenrollment is different for everyone. For some, the experience was so distraught that they have to find a healthy way of living away from the ordeal just to keep from having to relive the horror of the injustice everyday. Others may find that resuming as much of their life pre-disenrollment and moving forward for the sake of their families and the everyday routines they align themselves on is best. And there are the ones where it killed them. Literally. The real weight of the loss of membership is the loss of access to health, education, housing, food, etc. Depending on the individual, it can be the loss of their jobs, income, and other types of assistance.

And then there are folks like me. The ones that people call out as the hateful ones. The ones who are loud mouthed and loose lipped over the corrupt and unjust acts that were levied against them. The ones who never let it go and live everyday in devotion to seeking justice in any form necessary. The un-resting and unrelenting bunch of angry and hurt people, victims of paper genocide carried out by the crooked, uneducated and certainly, uncaring elected farces of tribal council leadership.

We “hateful ones” shield ourselves with knowledge, truth, honesty, and the willingness to stand in the gaps for our families who were all wronged by our own people. We absorb the hurling vitriol, the attempts to shame, disgrace, ridicule, and criticize us by the ignorance of those who support the disenrollments.

We stand selflessly in the way of these ugly souls and openly call out the blemishes of the leaders, the people, and the abusive policies that are disguised in a magic word called sovereignty. The tribe’s sovereign right to destroy the very essence of what makes a tribe a tribe. It’s membership.

The very human beings who are the sole survivors of the ugliest dark ages in our existence as indigenous people. The cruelest acts of genocide committed against our direct ancestors, who miraculously survived while hundreds of thousands in a short and dense amount of time, didn’t survive. Our men, women and too many children were mercilessly slaughtered, butchered, ground into raw meat patties to be fed to immigrant’s dogs, did not have the right, privilege, or a chance to survive the atrocities lodged against our people.

Of all of the historically documented massacres levied against our grandparents, we survive. It wasn’t supposed to happen that way, but we kept breathing. We kept surviving. We kept becoming. And then less than a century of surviving the worst of mankind, differences in opinions of how a tribe should operate created the ideas of paper genocide. Disenrollment. Exiling mass members of family trees, over disagreements. Because you/us/we oppose a point of view of another family. Factionalism. 

The act of disenrollment is an act of genocide, whether the Genocide Convention recognizes it as such or not. It removes the living and deceased identities of federally recognized individuals and strips them of their treaty rights, their tribal constitutional rights, and their legal identities. It breaks families apart and expires the identities of a group of people. It strips them of the federal protections afforded to only Native tribal people uniquely agreed upon with our dominantly white government. 

The federal government has left no room for recourse in the matter of disenrollments simply because a tribe is sovereign and can determine their own membership. This leaves room for Indians to play power games over their entire roll of members. It breeds corruption and the federal government and their Indian allies in the BIA are all too happy to allow this and to continue to happen. After all, it helps accelerate what they were trying to do all along. Absolve their responsibilities and their duties over Indian’s and their affairs.

When a family has been mass disenrolled unjustly and without due process, a process that’s set up inside of its own constitution, especially in an IRA (Indian Reorganization Act) tribe like mine, there is still no place to turn. No lawyer can really overturn these actions on their own. Especially again, if the tribe has established a tribal court. It can only truly be overturned by the base essence of the tribe itself. The membership. The very membership that allows itself to be held hostage by these corrupted councils. Their silenced voices, for fear of losing their own memberships. As if it’s as arbitrary as a gym membership.  These council’s have severely cheapened the quality of their culture by allowing such disposability to undervalue their own tribal systems.

The unfair and cruel act of disenrollment is done in a single stroke of a pen. Actually, it takes less than the hand motion of a pen stroke. In the single breathing of a vote of approval “Aye”, is all it takes by a corrupt tribal council of 7 members. It literally can take just four corrupted souls to commit the act of genocide. Four humans who have so much hate for a few individuals that can exterminate an entire bloodline.

And we are called hateful for decrying the acts. For calling it out and never letting it be forgotten. We are the hate filled ones that need to shut our mouths for the sake of other people’s reputations. We are told to get over it. We are told that because of “our” hate that no one would want us back. We are told that we are so blinded in hate that we cannot offer anything to our tribes. And to that I say Fuck You!

Fuck you for trying to silence me once again. Your disdain in me is lending your approval in ongoing corruption. Your irritation in my loud voice is your consent to commit even more acts of genocide in your name. Your treacherous stance in coming against me is your direct invitation to allow the demise of spirit and culture of the tribe to continue. Because of people like you, the tribe is decaying. Because of people like you, you are allowing and validating why Indians can’t be trusted or be taken seriously. You perpetrate the embarrassing and offense mascotry as an anthem against our own. Because of people like you, you accelerate the extinction of our people. You think you’re sovereign. All a POTUS has to do is simply not recognize you anymore. Exactly the way the tribe has done to us.

And when that happens, when your identity and your existence is being threatened, then and only then, will you finally understand that there’s no getting over it. See you on that “hateful” trail. But still. Fuck you. 

Written by Michelle

This here is a therapeutic electronic diary.

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An American Genocide: The United States and the California Indian Catastrophe, 1846-1873