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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Immigration Reform: Perspectives from Native America

One of the buzz phrases I have heard in many social justice circles regarding the issue of immigration reform is “Comprehensive and Just Immigration Reform”. But I have taken a slight twist on that idea and have used it to advocate for our Native American communities by pointing out that “immigration reform will be neither comprehensive nor just unless it includes the voices and perspectives of the Native American peoples.

Right now I am not even advocating for any specific policy or stance. Instead I am merely observing that the voices of Native American are largely absent from this conversation. And so I am trying to speak to 2 separate audiences.

To our Native American communities I want to communicate that this is an important and historic dialogue for our country and our land and that we, as indigenous peoples, can offer a unique and invaluable perspective. We are the original inhabitants of this land and for the first time in centuries we have an opportunity to shape the dialogue regarding who should and should not be allowed to be here. So I want to encourage our people to step up and take our place in this conversation.

And to non-Native communities I am trying to point out the irony of trying to reform a policy on immigration without the indigenous inhabitants of the land participating in the conversation. I have witnessed and am convicted that merely our presence at the table where immigration reform is being discussed fundamentally effects and alters the conversation. This is because our Native American community is a visual reminder of our country’s unjust history regarding immigration policy, and that is even before we begin speaking and offering our distinct perspectives on the land and our relationship to it. And so I want our country and our leaders to pause, and notice that the Native American community is not actively a part of this conversation and then to intentionally invite us to the table.

I do not believe that either community can resolve this issue alone. And even together we are not going to get it perfect. But both voices are necessary if we want this reform to be more comprehensive and more just than our current policy is now.

Facebook:
I am trying to create some meaningful space where our Native American communities can begin to hone and articulate our thoughts and opinions on immigration reform so I started a Facebook Page regarding this topic.

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Immigration-Reform-Perspectives-from-Native-America/144752315596394

Gallup Herald:
Here is an article by the Gallup Herald, a local weekly news publication. They interviewed me and published an article regarding a Native American Perspective on Immigration Reform.
http://www.facebook.com/notes/gallup-herald/charles-seeks-inclusion-of-indigenous-Linkperspectives-in-talks-on-immigration-refor/150313651677727

CRCNA:
This was one of the first events I spoke at where I advocated for the inclusion of the Native American community in the national dialogue on Immigration Reform.
http://www.crcna.org/news.cfm?newsid=1940&section=1

2 comments:

scottcrocker said...

Great thoughts, Mark! I've quoted most of this post on my blog and linked back to you.

Scott

Tom Van Winkle said...

Immigration and illegal immigration is a hot topic these days and one of many opinions, but to include the Native voice on this issue to help solve this problem for the West is just nuts! First of all Indians only make up 1% of the U.S. population and second there's a whole sense of retribution to the Western world still alive for the social ills Indians feel is unjustly against them. We're in a time of seeking social justice for all and strengthening our Republic's values, that's why some states are doing a good job in tackling the issue of immigration such as Arizona and New Mexico. Bias and hate from the Indian voice can not be apart of this debate, but good idea Mark, I know liberal minded people tend to speak and not think. Good day, -Tom van Winkle
Navajo, NM.