THE ILLUSION OF SOVEREIGNTY: The Fight Against Native American Oppression

If you’re in a relationship that is not healthy, there is only so much you can handle before you decide that you’re done. You can’t handle it anymore. You remove yourself from the situation. That is what some of us has done to cope with surviving the oppression of a broken system. The best way to fight a broken system choosing not to feed in to it.

It’s no secret that Native Americans are treated as unfairly as any other minority in the country. Well, it may be a secret to the rest of America who thinks we’re rich with casino money, but the reality of life for an Indian is very different. Genocide started over 500 years ago and continues to this very day. Every single day is spent both suffering the consequences of what happened to our grandfathers, as well as dealing with the problems we face in the present time.

The problems we face are not the same, but are very similar to other minorities in America. We have to wear a mask for the sake of survival to function in society. We learned English. We packed away our traditional clothing to instead wear a suit and a tie. We participate in the educational system and the workforce. We’ve adopted the life of a white man. We willingly kill the Indian and save the man to the point where a modern Native American living in the city may have a life that is completely indistinguishable from everyone else, yet we are treated like we are unwanted.

Every minority has worn this mask for survival, yet society still does not accept any of us as equals. We all fight the same uphill battle to survive in society every single day. For 500 years we’ve been fighting but we have essentially gotten nowhere.

Making use of a roadkill Squirrel.
The meat was eaten and the hide was
tanned and turned in to a bag.

Where do we go from here? How can we force a system to accept us when it’s clearly not part of their agenda? If we’re going to struggle, should we not struggle to be who we are instead of what they want us to be? What if the next step of oppression is freedom and sovereignty? What If instead of trying to fight the system, we drop out of it entirely? They don’t want us anyway, but in all honesty we don’t want them either. We don’t need them. We haven’t needed them since the beginning of time and we don’t need them now. We don’t need their handouts or their system. We don’t need to have nation-to-nation relationships pretending like they care about our treaty rights. Fighting for treaty rights its like fighting for a longer chain on our shackles. We need to become self-reliant as individuals so we can be self-reliant as a nation. Yes, this does take work. As things are right now, we are dependent on the both government and capitalism. Until we break our dependency on these things and become self-reliant as individuals and as a nation, our freedom and our sovereignty will always be nothing more than an illusion.


What if we choose to explore alternative lifestyles outside the system where we no longer needed to hide or identity? Do we not have the ability to create communities both on and off the reservations that operate outside the structure of society so we don’t have to adapt to society?

Our ancestors fought and died so that we can continue living the life they wished us to live. That is the life we should be fighting for. We don’t need the system to live that life. We are industrious, resourceful, and resilient. We have our own way of doing things. Well, we had them. We were forced to try something new but it’s not working. Isn’t it about time we go back and do things our way? You might be thinking, “But the tribal council would never…” Stop it! You don’t need them to do anything for anyone because they won’t do anything for anyone. This change starts with the the people. It starts with organization and community building.

Harvesting Yucca root for shampoo and soap.

After losing my job I just decided not to get another one. When I couldn’t make rent on my apartment I decided not to get find another place to live. I realized that the safety of the system was nothing but an illusion that you are conditioned to believe. I got facial tattoos according to cultural traditions that I couldn’t get while in the workforce. I didn’t have to worry about what my employer thought about my piercings or my scalp lock haircut that was considered less than professional. Sure I am still “part” of the system, but my contributions to the system is nothing it could survive on because I hardly spend any money at all. I do pay a cell phone bill and insurance for my SUV, which is also my home. I do buy gas for the SUV to run. I buy and forage food. I am not involved in consumer culture and I do not make enough money to pay yearly taxes. My lifestyle demands such a little amount of money though, I have never gone without. No more rent, gas, electric, water, or Wi-Fi bills. No more living by the clock. I was free.

I started researching alternative lifestyles and found out that there are a lot of people who are already surviving outside the 9-5 wage slave trap. Off-the-grid community living, homesteading, permaculture, van life, living in an RV, even train hopping hobos. I always take the time to stop and visit with them for a conversation. It seems as if most of them are on drugs and have a drinking problems, but if they were sober, had outdoor skills, and had an arsenal of trade skills under their belt, they would make a great example of what it means to be truly unaffected by the grips of society. Part of me admires the fact that they are living the modern lifestyle that has the potential to be the closest to my hunter-gatherer ancestors way of life, and part of me is very upset at the fact that addiction and lack of responsibility sabotage what could be a very viable alternative lifestyle.

Pine resin is being collected for it’s 
antibacterial medicinal properties.
It can also be used to make 
“pine pitch”glue.

It’s not a wise idea for anyone to become completely dependent on anything. I’m not proposing everyone take it to that extreme, but I think everyone should detach according to their own level of comfort. This could mean anything from becoming a traveling hobo to working an online job so you can avoid dress codes, work on your own time, and travel the country as you please.

I began to realize that the oppressive system cannot function if we do not participate in it. All of the power that the government has over us would cease to exist once we understand that we don’t need the system to survive. The oppressors will lose control over he oppressed.

I don’t believe it would be in our best interest to get rid of the system entirely because some of the fruits of this system include health care and other benefits. The system is not inherently bad. The system is only a problem when we believe we are dependent on it. If enough people abandoned the system, it would be forced to adapt to the will of the people.


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