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Smithsonian exhibit says treaties with tribes are not a thing of the past

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Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2014

By Stephen Hicks


KAYLA WALL/CRONKITE NEWS: Another question coming out of Washington D.C. today, whether treaties between the United States and Indian Tribes are forgotten parts of the past. Cronkite News reporter Stephen Hicks is on the ground in Washington and has the answer. Stephen?

STEPHEN HICKS/CRONKITE NEWS: I spoke with ASU professor Robert Clinton who said treaties between the United States and American Indian tribes are not simply for museums but in fact could be more alive today than ever before.

ROBERT CLINTON/ARIZONA STATE UNIVERSITY SANDRA DAY O’CONNOR COLLEGE OF LAW: We are daily making new treaties with tribes today, as we used to, we’re just not labeling them treaties.

STEPHEN HICKS/CRONKITE NEWS: Clinton spoke about treaties with native nations at a symposium for the unveiling of the Nation to Nation exhibit at the National Museum of the American Indian. He said not only are treaties alive today but that the U.S., in the last 50 years, is moving away from a period of colonial dominance, in which the federal government would handle negotiations by -

ROBERT CLINTON/ASU SANDRA DAY O’CONNOR COLLEGE OF LAW: Never asking, or consulting with them, never giving them a seat at the table and never asking for their consent.

STEPHEN HICKS/CRONKITE NEWS: That consent is what Clinton describes as the modern treaty with Native nations.

ROBERT CLINTON/ASU SANDRA DAY O’CONNOR COLLEGE OF LAW: Increasingly we are moving back toward a treaty period where tribes in fact are consulted and have to consent to things that affect them.

STEPHEN HICKS/CRONKITE NEWS: Clinton said that for Indian tribes to ‘not just survive but to  also thrive’ they need a continued say in their future.

ROBERT CLINTON/ASU SANDRA DAY O’CONNOR COLLEGE OF LAW: All societies want a say in their destiny.

STEPHEN HICKS/CRONKITE NEWS: Some modern treaties going on now are Indian water rights, which are not clearly defined, and more locally, Indian gaming compacts like the one seen in the ongoing case of the Glendale resort and casino.

Live in Washington, D.C., Stephen Hicks, Cronkite News.