Native American Civics & Heritage Disappearing, Call to Include in U.S. Citizenship Tests
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Millions of American "Citizens" Know Nothing About Key Native American Contributions to America's Culture, Language, Traditions and Laws. With so much cultural degradation, lack of knowledge and focus on removing public NA icons research says Native Americans are Suffering because of It.
The Local, State and Federal Challenges.
In many local towns degradation of Native American history and traditions are happening through unwarranted attacks and removal of long-held Native-themed public schools even though the vast majority of Natives consider these school tributes not just honorable - but important.
At the state level, critical "Early America" or "Native American" history courses are being removed from graduation requirements. These attacks are restricting, or even ending, the infusion of N.A. history and traditions into the larger American social fabric by failing to make an significant impact upon non-native youth. These two failings, unfortunately, are being carried out without regard to the majority desires of natives who are experiencing the loss of cultural significance or identity.
However, it's at the Federal level where the most troublesome degradation of Native American identity is taking place. It may shock most to know that millions of Americans have been granted citizenship without regard to learning how Native values have greatly impacted who we are today in America and as Americans.
With nearly 40 million "naturalized" U.S. Citizens living in the United States, and millions more seeking to become new citizens, the Federal Government has a unique responsibility to educate and test candidates for citizenship through an improved U.S. Citizenship Naturalization Test.
Despite the test's 100 questions covering significant American history and contributions of its people, there are no study materials nor any current "Citizenship" test questions which provides a new citizen with any notion whatsoever that Native Americans contributed anything to the establishing identity, history or legal framework of the United States. This oversight is a travesty.
Congress Declares The U.S. Constitution is based on Native Laws, Native Civics & Native Values
The tragic 'education and testing' oversight by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services stands in sharp contrast to the fact that the U.S. Congress recognized the major role that Native American Law, traditions and civics played in the development of the U.S. Constitution as published in U.S. Concurrent Resolution 331.
The test also ignores native contributions to the Founding Father's in writing the Declaration of Independence (did you know a contingent of Native leaders briefed the Continental Congress - convincing them they could fight and beat England - while they stayed at Independence Hall only weeks before June 1776?), in Women's Rights, maintaining an all volunteer military and the core concept of separation of Church and State among others.
Cultural Attacks from All Sides
Ultimately any culture facing the combined attacks on their native-themed public schools, the rolling back of state-level Native American history requirements and the acceptance of waves of new citizens who know nothing about us or who we were. These new citizens vote and will ultimately impact native policies through the passage of Federal Laws. There is very real fear on and off our reservations that adding millions of new citizens without holding them accountable to first learning our shared customs, traditions and civic ideals is too much to bear.
Does the Government Want America to Forget Us?
Many of us have a distrust of the federal government. Now, this glaring oversight only adds to this fear. Our culture sustainability battles are already fierce and the state and local levels where our symbols, logos and history are under attack.
But the Federal level pressure is a much larger problem yet a remedy could be introduced by creating a new 'education to testing' citizenship pathway. For this solution to happen we need your immediate and passionate voice and support in aggressively reversing the decline in the knowledge, appreciation and protection of Native Americanism.
What we are asking is that The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service immediately fix their woeful and damaging "knowledge gap" in not requiring a citizen to know our contributions. The fact that this "oversight" exists in the first place is puzzling and the fact that no elected representatives has sought to remedy this suggests there could be "indifference" to our plight.
Please stand with NAGA in demanding new legislation to compel the U.S. C.I.S. to maintain - BY LAW - a new minimum level of Native American study materials and test questions for hopeful new citizens.
NAGA will take the lead in providing the U.S. C.I.S. a representative sample of core questions. An example would be having citizens learn that our Constitution is actually a derivative of Native American's Great Law of Peace.
Our proposed emergency resolution proposes new legislation will be developed in the spirit of "cultural preservation" - something along the lines of a larger National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 which could eventually extend protections to Native American landmarks, school names, appearance on U.S. currency and educational appropriations etc.
(proposal) The Congress Shall Declare that-
(1) the spirit and direction of the Nation are founded upon and reflected specifically on Native American historic heritage, civics and customs;
(2) these historical and cultural foundations of the Nation should be preserved as a living part of our community life, public education and development in order to give a sense of orientation to the American people;
(3) historic contributions, properties, images and traditions of the indigenous peoples are significant to the Nation's heritage are being lost or substantially altered among suburban Natives and non-Natives alike with increasing negative impact;
(4) the preservation of this irreplaceable heritage is in the public interest so that its vital legacy of cultural, educational, aesthetic, inspirational, economic, and identity benefits will be maintained and enriched for future generations of Americans;
(5) in the face of ever-increasing extensions of urban centers, highways, and residential, commercial, and industrial developments, the present governmental and nongovernmental historic preservation programs and activities are inadequate to insure future generations a genuine opportunity to appreciate and enjoy the rich heritage of our nation's Native American roots;
(6) the increased basic knowledge of the contributions of Native American civics, laws, customs, words, food and sports (to name a few) requires the establishment of better means of identifying and administering these topics to the general public, and the encouragement of their preservation will improve the planning and execution of federal and federally assisted projects and will assist economic growth and development of not just Native Americans, but all Americans to include our newest citizens.
(7) it is hereby resolved that effective immediately the Federal Government will grant any public school with a Native American theme funds to enrich the learning environment so as to make graduates of those institutions "cultural ambassadors" of Native Americanism. Further, States may receive emergency funds to rescue or revive at-risk Native American Studies and/or Early American history courses. Finally, effective immediately, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service will immediately update their citizenship program to reflect at least a 20% Native American history and civics basis is maintained, updated and aggressively utilized as the new standard for citizenship.
Thank you for your passion & support.
The Native American Guardians Association
Mark Yellowhorse, Navajo, President
William Brotherton, Abenaki, Vice President
Eunice Davidson, Sioux, Past President
Tony Henson, Cherokee, NAGA Board & Fighting Illini Historian
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