Self-governance of tribes defines ‘sovereignty’
From the Desk of Chief Gregory E. Pyle
The Choctaw Nation has a tremendous heritage and I enjoy reading and hearing others talk about the moments and events of the past 500 years of recorded history that “paint a picture” for me of our tribe. Reading of the great warrior Chief Tushka Lusa, who bravely fought against enslavement from the Spanish explorer DeSoto, made me realize that even then, protecting families and heritage was of supreme importance to our tribe.
I enjoy hearing the stories of the wise strategies of leaders of our past who knew education of young Choctaws and partnerships with neighbors were critical to success. Treaties and agreements began to be signed in the 1700s between tribal governments and the United States.
In order to remain a tribal government, the Choctaws signed a treaty to move to Indian Territory, now known as Oklahoma. In spite of terrible loss of life, starvation, sickness and a great deal of misery, the Choctaws survived as a nation, and today we are stronger than ever!
Our Choctaw Nation government is strong because of the Choctaw people. We are fortunate to have a distinct recognition of our self-determination which was granted by Public Law 93-638, The Tribal Self-Governance Act.
The United States Constitution notes Indian tribes as distinct governments. Article I, Section 8 of the constitution authorizes Congress “To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes.” Numerous Supreme Court cases have upheld tribal sovereignty in recent years. I also feel that each time a president of the United States has invited a tribal chief to the West Wing on official business, it is a recognition of the sovereignty of the Indian nation.
The Choctaw Nation is extremely blessed to be a nation-within-a-nation of the United States of America. The patriotism that we can feel for both the tribe and the great United States is awesome. Our warriors have fought for both nations, consistently, bravely and decades before they were considered full citizens of the United States.
Today, the tribe has unique opportunities to help with the efforts of our warriors through Veterans Airlift Command, care packages, veterans advocacy and support efforts. I am so proud that this tribal government acts in the best interests of our citizens and has the liberty to do so!