AMERICAN INDIAN INCLUSION ACT (AIIA): Reversing Paper Genocide
By Kevin A. Thompson
Large numbers of American Indians have had their cultural identities changed against their will. Recently, thousands of their descendants have taken action to reverse this erasure.
The Urban Indian Heritage Society has posted a petition on Change.org, demanding the U.S. Congress do something about it. The ultimate goal is passage of the American Indian Inclusion Act(AIIA), which addresses all the many ways Indians have been stripped of our rights to identify as Indigenous people, to speak our languages, to practice our religions and to maintain a stable housing and land base.
That’s a lot of goals for one proposed bill to accomplish, and the petitioners have detailed several methods and how to achieve them. The AIIA demands a “Special reform bill for Social Services, Juvenile and Reformatory Institutions, Jail, Prison and Correctional System Investigations,” and “Independent oversight for the implementation of Indian Home Schools/Tribal Schools/Language Immersion schools.”
In other words, the AIIA covers issues that are not usually portrayed as “Indian issues,” like criminal justice; and some that are usually portrayed as central to Indian identity, such as language. And the list doesn’t stop there.
The AIIA is a call to action for the millions of misclassified American Indians, who have labored (often literally)under the constantly changing racial labels of the US Census and other government agencies.
The AIIA especially demands repeal of HR 4238 (year 2015) which replaced historical ethnic definitions of Indian and Negro, and replacing them with the terms “Native American” and “African American,” two terms with did not come into use until the 1970s and 1980s, respectively. This writer, for one, was born before either term was used. The term “Negro” did not exclusively mean “African” and could even refer to Natives of Canada.
Misclassified Indians conduct extensive genealogical research to verify their own family’s lineage. HR 4238 obscures the actual terms recorded on pre-Indian removal (1830) documents with vague or blatantly incorrect terms that hide the truth of our origins.
For those folks descended from Indians whose racial classification was changed to something else, this petition is worth a thorough read.
See the petition at Change.org:
Remedy for the Misclassified People of North America!
----Kevin A. Thompson
Image courtesy Smithsonian Institution, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons