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Snapshots

The Price of Nationhood – ICTMN.com

Where you are about one half of one percent of the population, how many people can you afford to leave behind by categorical self-definition? One obvious answer is that within your self-definition, you are one hundred percent of the population. If that self-definition is all you want, there is no problem. If you want something from the larger world, there is.

As I pointed out in my first column on this subject, to be a “nation” is to be recognized as such in the community of nations, just as to be an Indian is to be recognized as such in an Indian community. This definition lives in what academics call “legal realism,” a definition derived from how the world in fact conducts itself.

Steve Newcomb replies with a definition of “nation” from what academics call “legal formalism,” a definition derived from documents treating the subject.

Neither is right or wrong. They are what they are and they are useful or not for particular tasks.

From the realist or formalist perspective, there are some entities with much stronger claims to nationhood than Indian governments—Taiwan, for example—whose nationhood is problematic. Others with arguably weaker claims, such as Monaco, get away with claiming nationhood because the major powers find it convenient.

The federally recognized tribes in the U.S. range from sophisticated governments antedating the U.S. to some California rancherias that are nothing more than extended families squabbling over casino cash. There are also peoples for whom both language and distinctive culture are a distant memory though no fault of their own. Genocide sometimes prevails.

Too many tribal governments lack any sense of nationhood because their own people do not buy in. The reason is corruption, sometimes real and sometimes perceived, but which it is does not matter. If your own people are not willing to risk everything from their property to their lives—exactly as the founders of the U.S. did—in defense of nationhood, then tribal government becomes like the proverbial car-chasing dog. If you catch the car, then what?

FULL ARTICLE: The Price of Nationhood – ICTMN.com.

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