By: Donald V. Watkins
Copyrighted and Published on June 30, 2022
AN OPEN LETTER TO NATIVE-AMERICAN TRIBES
My Dear Native-American Brothers and Sisters,
I am an African-American civil rights activist, lawyer, businessman, and journalist from Alabama who has Choctaw and Cherokee blood running in his veins. My 48 years of high-profile civil rights activism and investigative journalism in Alabama on behalf of African-Americans, Native-Americans, women, members of the LGBTQ community, Muslims, and other oppressed groups has made me a highly controversial figure in the state's white community. After all, Alabama is the "Cradle of the Confederacy" and "Heart of Dixie," with all of the racism that this status entails.
My record on championing civil rights in Alabama is set forth in the biography section of www.donaldwatkins.com. My landmark cases positively changed the educational, political, economic, social justice, housing, and healthcare landscape in Alabama. However, these changes came with a high personal price that I was more than willing to pay.
I published my Native-American ancestry in three articles on this website: "Celebrating My Native-American Ancestry," dated May 26, 2022, "Sallie Emma Darden and My Indian Ancestors," dated May 9, 2021, and "Adam and Sallie Watkins: A Legacy of Love," dated July 31, 2019.
I am writing you this Open Letter to all of the 574 federally registered and recognized Native-American Tribes in the United States, with a special plea to the Tribes with Reservations in 35 states. Your Reservations are sovereign territories. You are governed by federal laws and Tribal laws, not state laws.
For the first time in 50 years, women in America are in grave danger from a radical Taliban faction of the Republican Party that controls the U.S. Supreme Court and 26 state governments. On Friday, June 24, 2022, this Taliban faction used the Supreme Court to strip away the constitutional right of women to have safe and legal abortions.
Within hours of the Supreme Court's ruling, Taliban cells in Republican-controlled states proclaimed their intention to immediately enforce state laws that ban abortions, even in cases of rape, incest, and endangerment to the pregnant woman's life. These radicalized zealots are seizing control over women's bodies and forcing pregnant women to undergo childbirth under all circumstances.
Your Tribes are in a unique position to assist women across America in protecting their reproductive rights by making your Reservations a safe haven for women seeking abortions. Thankfully, the right to an abortion has NOT been outlawed by a federal statute or constitutional amendment. State anti-abortion laws DO NOT apply to abortions performed on your Reservations.
Your Reservations are located in 35 states, many of which are under the firm control of the Republican Party's anti-abortion Taliban faction.
You Know this Breed of Whites Very Well
You know this breed of white men who make up the Taliban faction of the Republican Party, as well as the women who serve as their accomplices. You have dealt with them since your ancestors welcomed white settlers to America in 1612.
African-Americans know them, as well. Their ancestors raped our women during 250 years of slavery and forced them to give birth to children who joined their mothers in slavery. State laws allowed these white men to profit from their sexual assaults upon our women because their assaults created a permanent labor supply by means of their own vices. At the time, my ancestors were powerless to stop them and those who tried were tortured, maimed, or killed. During the same period of time, those white men who were married had the legal right to beat and rape their wives.
From the 1930s until the early 1970s, white men forcefully sterilized black women and poor white women in prisons and mental institutions, without their consent. Only federal court orders ended this inhumane practice.
Control over women's bodies, whether they were white, black, or Indian, has been the bedrock of white male privilege in America since 1612. For over four hundred years, this control has been unrelenting and has covered every aspect of women's lives, from the cradle to the grave.
Your ancestors treated white settlers as guests in your native lands. They fed them, taught them how to farm the lands along the east coast, and saved them from freezing to death during the long, harsh northern winters. They even shared some of their territorial lands with these white strangers from across the ocean, believing that Indians could live in harmony with these white migrants.
In return for this show of love and hospitality, these white settlers introduced your ancestors to the doctrine of "Manifest Destiny." They seized 1.5 billion acres of your lands by deadly force and gave 270 million acres of this land to 3 million poor European migrants from 1862 to 1986 under the Homestead Act of 1862.
They called your ancestors "merciless Indian savages" in the Declaration of Independence.
When your Tribes stood your ground from 1612 to 1906, European settlers, Calvary troops, and white vigilantes used muskets, rifles, gunpowder, and bullets to massacre up to 60 million Native-Americans. Your ancestors' bows and arrows, which were used for hunting game and defending your homelands, were no match for the white man's weapons of war. This is one of the reasons why the Second Amendment's "right to bear arms" is sacrosanct with them.
The white man broke every treaty the U.S. government, state and territorial governments, and private companies executed with Indian Nations. The white man's lack of trustworthiness and honesty in his dealings with your Tribes gave rise to the term "Indian-giver."
The atrocities and genocide that were committed against your ancestors is well-documented in the U.S. Senate Records and Committee Reports in Washington, D.C. These events are NOT "critical race theory." They were real-life, shameful tragedies.
They Killed Indians in the Most Inhumane Ways
The ancestors of today's Taliban faction of the Republican Party killed your ancestors in the most inhumane ways. For example, white soldiers and vigilantes shot and killed many Native American men, women, (whom they called "squaws"), and young children who chose to surrender rather than fight the seizure of your Tribal lands just so they could make an example out of them.
These soldiers also initiated the practice of scalping dead Native-American defenders. Scalping Indians was a highly incentivized and legally protected activity. On November 3, 1755, the Massachusetts legislature declared the Penobscot Indians "rebels, enemies, and traitors" and provided a bounty: "For every scalp of a male brought in .... forty pounds. For every scalp of such female Indian or male Indian under the age of twelve years that shall be killed ... twenty pounds."
Soldiers castrated male Indians and used their testicles for tobacco pouches. They cut off the hands of Indians in order to steal the rings from their fingers. They cut out the genitals of female Indians and either showcased them on sticks, stretched them over their saddle-bows, and/or wore them over their hats while riding in ranks. In some instances, soldiers would cut off the hands of Native-Americans and use them as ashtrays.
Indian infants were killed with their mothers. Soldiers even sliced open the wombs of pregnant females and killed the fetuses. If "right to life" whites existed during this period, they were silent and complicit in these murders.
Soldiers, accompanied by state militias and vigilantes, systematically murdered Native-Americans in western villages that had nobody in them but women and children. They used their sabers to break the arms and legs of wounded Indian women and children so they would die a slow and painful death. They burned them to death in their tepees and shot them as they attempted to flee the searing flames of destruction. Infants and young children were killed in every way imaginable.
White soldiers even desecrated your ancestral burial grounds with impunity.
Why You Should Help Non-Indian Women Today
America's 574 Indian Nations have a long and admirable record of honoring and respecting women -- all women. You have always exulted them. For thousands of years, you have treated women as equal to men.
In contrast, the white men who settled in America from 1612 to 1920 treated all women as "property." They even codified the right of husbands to beat and rape their wives. They restricted educational opportunities for women. They barred women from owning real and personal property (including cash) in their own name. They denied women the right to vote until 1920. They led the successful effort to defeat ratification of the only Equal Rights Amendment for women that passaged on Congress.
Your Tribes have always provided safe-havens for the abused and downtrodden members of American society. In Florida, for example, the Seminoles fought Army troops in the First Seminole War (1816-18) and Second Seminole War (1835-42) because the Seminoles refused to surrender and return runaway African slaves, many of whom later became Seminole Tribal members. The Second Seminole War was the longest and costliest war in the United States that was fought against Indians.
Despite the white man's superior weapons and highly trained soldiers, the U.S. Calvary was never able to defeat the Seminoles and Apaches.
Please Hear My Plea
Please open your Reservations to the masses of non-Indian women who are seeking safe and legal abortions in the aftermath of last week's Supreme Court ruling. Use your territorial boundaries, Tribal laws, Tribal police forces, and legacy of respect for women to prevent today's Taliban faction of the Republican Party from terrorizing women who are seeking legal abortions.
This medical procedure, whether performed surgically or induced medically, is legal when performed on your Reservations. I, along with tens of millions of fellow male and female proponents of gender equality, will join you in fighting to keep it this way.
I am pleading with you to use your power and lawful authority to show America women the love and respect their Taliban men can never show them. We must defeat the Taliban in America before they become the oppressive ruling class that we have seen in Afghanistan.
After centuries of mistreatment and suffering, casino gaming has made your Tribes economic and political forces to be reckoned with. Use this power to protect all women and ensure them the right to a safe and legal abortion.
Meanwhile, I will be working with enlightened Americans to encourage the Biden Administration and major corporations around the world to fund the added expense to your Tribes for providing this critical healthcare service to women on an expeditious basis.
Women Shall Overcome this Adversity
There are certain ethnic groups in America who know better than anyone that this Taliban faction of the Republican Party does not give a damn about women, infants and children. Former president Donald Trump made this clear when he bragged about his unfettered ability to grab women by the "pussy."
This Taliban faction of the Republican Party has stood idlily by and watched women, infants and children suffer (and often die) from inadequate healthcare, malnutrition, substandard housing, a lack of daycare, failing educational institutions, non-existence community policing, and a sea of benign neglect in America every day.
We saw what the white man did to African-Americans in slavery. We saw them bomb our churches and homes, and beat and kill our children during the civil rights era of the 1950s and 60s. We studied what they did to Native-American men, women, and children for three hundred of years.
We watched white men inflict unbearable suffering on 110,000 Japanese-America men, women and children who were removed from their West coast homes and placed in American concentration camps during World War II.
Finally, we saw white men snatch 1.3 million American citizens and migrants of Mexican descent from their homes in southern border states and Illinois, and deport them to Mexico in crowded railway cattle cars, cargo ships, and airplanes in a 1954 racist program the Immigration and Naturalization Service called "Operation Wetback."
We have experienced and overcome centuries of American Taliban rule. Now, let's work together to save today's women who want and need access to a safe and legal abortions.
Time is of the essence!
Donald V. Watkins
Reg. No. 36223-001
Federal Prison Camp at La Tuna
P.O. Box 8000
Anthony, New Mexico 88021