American Indian Experience: Mike Chosa on The Indian’s Future

This is a lecture given by Mike Chosa on the subject of tribal sovereignty and the potential role of natural resources as a bargaining chip for American Indian activism.

0:01Copy video clip URL Title screen.

0:11Copy video clip URL Mike Chosa gives a short summary of a previous lecture, where he discussed the injustices faced by American Indians in modern times. He starts to discuss the future of American Indians, with a focus on the subject of tribal sovereignty. His definition of tribal sovereignty is a “reservation area as a base of operations, completely sealed off from outside influences,” but which is as universally recognized as the sovereignty of the United States or any other nation. However, Chosa does not think the word has been properly defined or is well-understood in Indian communities.

4:45Copy video clip URL Chosa says that freedom is one of the things needed for sovereignty, which some tribes are trying to obtain through court actions. Chosa does not believe that freedom can be found through court deliberation – he thinks the tribes will only find freedom through fighting. He also describes a case involving disagreements between two different tribal leaders in northern Wisconsin.

7:48Copy video clip URL Resources are going to play a vital role in the future of American Indians. Since the United States is generally in need of resources, Chosa believes that the tribes can potentially use the natural resources which are under their control as a bargaining chip with the American government. He discusses the shortage of wood pulp that affected many American newspapers, including the Chicago Tribune, after World War II, which led the companies to purchase Canadian land as an alternate supply. However, a tariff caused these companies to look back at American sources for wood pulp. Chosa brings up the Menominee tribe’s recent problems with the federal government, and suggests that the newspapers were largely responsible for magnifying the divisions that already existed within the community.

11:51Copy video clip URL Chosa discusses the other masses of natural resources which exist on Indian land. He discusses the rights to hunting and fishing that were largely described by the 1968 Bill of Indian Rights, but goes on to discuss a recent case in Arizona involving the water rights of local Indian tribes. The local tribes lost that case, which Chosa uses to illustrate the fragile nature of American Indian control over their own natural resources. Chosa believes that if they continue to pursue these Supreme Court cases, the American Indians may win in the area of civil liberties, but lose in the area of land protection.

15:25Copy video clip URL Chosa believes that “going out in the streets and fighting for it” is the only way to protect the future of American Indian tribes. He sets up a hypothetical situation where the Indian tribes of Wisconsin pull their timber out of the American market and choose to sell it to the shah of Iran, as a way to illustrate the potential economic influence held by American Indian tribes. Chosa deeply dislikes sympathy, and would rather find mutual respect when trying to negotiate. “My people have got a future, and maybe some day I’ll say ‘brother, I sympathize with you.'”

25:12Copy video clip URL End credits.

25:16Copy video clip URL End of tape.



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