THE HEADLINE CATCHES THIERRY’S EYE, “PASSPORT FLAP LANDS NATIVE LAX PLAYERS IN HOT WATER.”
As a big lacrosse fan, Thierry couldn’t wait to find out more. How could passports cause problems? But even after reading the story, Thierry is still a little confused. He takes the story to Ms. Burns, his Civics teacher, for help.
Ms. Burns is excited to talk about the story, especially because they are talking about the Constitution in class. She explains that the lacrosse players are from the Iroquois Nationals team. After a winning season, they were asked to travel out of the country to play in an international competition. But even though the team lives inside the borders of the United States, they are members of the Iroquois Nation, officially known as the Haudenosaunee Confederacy. Although they are eligible for American passports, they consider themselves Iroquois, not United States citizens. And their Iroquois passports reflected the importance of that identity. Ms. Burns explains that this is because of something called
“Remember,” she says, “Native Americans lived on this land and formed their own nations before this country was colonized. Indigenous sovereignty recognizes that tribal nations have the freedom to govern within their own borders. In fact, the Constitution protects indigenous sovereignty.” Ms. Burns points out that Native nations set up their own governments and establish their own relationships with the federal government and other nations. “Indigenous sovereignty is not a ‘gift’ given to Native nations. It’s a recognition of native rights to determine their own futures.”
Thierry points out that the lacrosse players were told they needed American passports before they could travel. But if the Iroquois are a sovereign nation, why aren’t their passports good enough?
Take a close look at the primary sources. What evidence is there to support Indigenous sovereignty - Native nations’ right to their own government? How does the Constitution protect the rights of Native Americans?
Have your students take this challenge and make their case! To begin, send your students to this website with this challenge’s code.
Indigenous refers to original groups of people who lived in a region with their own culture and language before colonists and settlers began to occupy the land.
Sovereignty is the right to “to have control over your own lands, and resources, and assets, and to have control over your own vision for the future, and to be able to absolutely determine your own destiny.” — Wilma Pearl Mankiller (Former Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation)