What Does the Next Century Hold for Native Americans?


3 years ago



Shannon O'Loughlin

1 appearance

Shannon O'Loughlin is the Executive Director and attorney for the Association on American Indian Affairs, and she is also a citizen of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma.


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Native Americans

Episodes & clips about the indigenous people of the Americas.


When you look at the future of Native American tribes in the United States, and again, as you said, you know, Native Americans that are in these reservations are United States citizens. But it's such an unusual situation that really, we only have a comparison to Canada with their First Nations. What do you think happens in the future? When you go from 1900, you were talking about the past of 1900 to today, it's an abysmal 120 years, other than the economic success of the casinos. What do you anticipate happening in the next 100 years? It's hard to tell. I know a lot of tribes have been diversifying their economic development. Without our cultures, we won't survive. In fact, many elders, and you may have read it in Black Elk Speaks, that we're no longer who we are without our culture, without our languages, and likely will no longer be recognized by the federal government unless we are Indian enough. So those things are really important to who we are in the next 100 years. And I think it's those things that we will be rebuilding over the next 100 years, healing from the last and moving forward with a newfound understanding of who we are and a stronger identity and self. What that actually looks like and what's important, I think that we are still so dependent on the great white father and what happens with the U.S. politics. And whether we have a voice there or not, we've got great organizations that help advocate for Indian country in general. There's the National Congress of American Indians, which has been around for about 75 years, and it helps lobby and educate Congress and keeps tribes informed about what's going on in politics and advocate for many of those interests. There are groups like ours that are advocating for more cultural revitalization and strengthening identity and protecting our youth. So I think part of what we've been building is really a coalition of organizations and tribes to strengthen who we are and kind of correct the misfortunes of our history. I know we still have tribal nations out there that are living with egregious poverty and issues that still seem so far away from being corrected. But like my grandma always said, where there's hope, where there's life, there's hope. So I think we just continue to, I mean, we've freaking survived for this long and this coronavirus isn't going to take us out either. I mean, we're going to continue to push forward and try to have a better future for our kids, just like anybody else, just like anybody else. And I think that's what's important is that we're not on the stage with everyone else. We're not at the table where decisions are being, we're not in the room where it happens. That Native Americans are not being treated with the same respect as other people from other countries. So like the culture of Mexico or the culture of Guatemala or any other country in Japan. Oh, hell, they're not being treated well. But we respect them as a culture, like they're thought of as, I mean, we're not invading Mexico. Do you know what I'm saying? I mean, whether you're not, you're green walls and border walls. We're not looking at them as something in, we're looking at them as another country. We don't look at Native Americans the same way we look at any, maybe it's because you are also United States citizens. But don't look at them the same way we have the same, like the respect for people that live in a sovereign nation, another sovereign nation. Even though this is a sovereign nation inside of our nation, it doesn't, I think you would agree, doesn't get the same respect that other sovereign nations do. Oh, absolutely.