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Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Ind. Gov't. - More on: "Miami Nation of Indiana trying to win back recognition as a tribe" [Updated]

Updating this Oct. 26, 2015 ILB post quoting from a good story by Andrea Neal, and this post on Oct. 30, Maureen Hayden, here identified as Goshen News Statehouse Reporter, reported Jan. 25 in the Goshen News, under the headline: "MAUREEN HAYDEN: Miami chief continues long fight." Some quotes:

Brian Buchanan spent his childhood hiding the fact that he was Native American, advised to do so by older relatives who feared he would be bullied and shamed. Now, as an adult, he wears his heritage proudly as chief of the Miami Nation of Indiana.

But for Buchanan, 54, the distinction means he inherits a fight waged for more than a century, to get the state and federal governments to formally recognize the 5,000-member Miami as an official Indian nation.

“It’s exhausting,” said Buchanan, who’s led the campaign for more than a decade. He recalled the famous surrender speech of one his heroes, the defiant Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce, after he was forced from his tribal land in 1877.

“I can understand when Chief Joseph said, ‘I will fight no more forever.’”

Still, there was a moment at the Statehouse last week that buoyed Buchanan, who works as an electrical engineer. The Senate Public Policy Committee unanimously passed a bill giving the Miami the right to a seat on the state’s Native American Indian Affairs Commission. [Update: see below]

It’s a small victory, given the commission’s minor role advising the governor and lawmakers. But it’s symbolic of progress toward the larger goal.

The bill’s author, Sen. Randy Head, R-Logansport, has authored similar bills that never even got a hearing.

“It just begins to recognize an historical truth,” said Head, whose district includes Miami County, home to Buchanan’s ancestors for more than 100 years before Indiana became a territory.

The story of the Miami Nation is messy and shameful. Much of the Miami were forcibly removed in 1846. Theirs was the last of the Native American tribes pushed out of Indiana following the passage of the federal Indian Removal Act.* * *

As things stand, it would take an act of Congress to allow the Miami Nation of Indiana to re-petition the federal government to join the 566 other tribes recognized as sovereign nations.

U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly, a Democrat, has taken up that complicated pursuit.

Buchanan says tribal leaders see their effort as part of an “ancestral promise” that cannot be broken.

“We see it as a restoration of our dignity as a people,” he said. “Our ancestors were mistreated, cheated and lied to. It was a wrongdoing that needs to be fixed.”

[Updated at 1:54 PM] SB 13 is on third reading this afternoon.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on January 26, 2016 01:22 PM
Posted to Indiana Government