SKHAWÁʔKYE DECLARATION OF LAND AND TREATY REPATRIATION.
July, 12th 2016
We ękwehę̀·we of Skaroreh Katenuaka have been disposed to vindicate our antecedents of sovereignty over the territories of Skhawáʔkye. It is understood by our people that these lands are ours by virtue of aboriginal right and solemn treaty. It is also understood that our diaspora from said lands was done so under duress of violence, willful negligence and misrepresentation from outside governments and finally the illegal seizures of land, people and property. We contend that if it were not for, despite protest, the intentional misidentification and silencing of our voices, we would have reclaimed and maintained our position as protectors of this territory and its natural resources.
Let it be known that we ękwehę̀·we of Skaroreh Katenuaka have since returned to our treaty lands with a consecution of goals that we believe will demonstrate our ancestors' tenacity for seeking peace, justice, righteousness, and self-determination. We do not ask anything of anyone except that our agreements and aboriginal rights and lands of Skhawáʔkye be once again reaffirmed and respected and that we may continue forward into the future as friends and allies in the protection of our people and environment.
We first begin by recommencing our commitment to the original instructions given to us by Tharęhyawáʔkę. It has been since time began that this law has been our law to guide us in friendship, respect, and peace with the people. We of Skaroreh Katenuaka recognize the disruption in our friendships and peace has made the complete application of these instructions impossible. We recognize that although European colonization created these disruptions, neither the various Tuscarora communities, Nottoway, nor Meherrin have ever truly severed our covenant chain.
With that being said, we would like to offer our kinspeople substance served within one dish which is to be shared with one spoon absent of any sharp utensils so that we may avoid accidentally harming one another. This gesture symbolizes a promise between us to share our resources and to sustain each other. It is also understood that those who share from the same dish may once again come together as family and never again allowed to offend or harm the other.
Runners are to be dispatched to see that these strands of wampum are properly delivered and received. We pray that once this invitation is received, we will come together to rekindle our nations' fires and commitments to each other and our future generations. We have previously offered these lands within Skhawáʔkye to host our reunification and wish it to be known that this offer has not changed and has instead only been augmented with the reclamation of additional lands.
We Skaroreh Katenuaka have long since adopted our own constitution. Within our constitution we have affirmed our dedication to the Kayanręhstí·yu· otherwise known as the Great Law of Peace. This law solidifies our dedication to our original instructions and helps lay out guidance and offers the provision of the tools necessary to prevent us from straying from our responsibilities. It should be understood that we Skaroreh Katenuaka, recognize Kayanręhstí·yu· to be our law within our territory.
We understand that our reaffirmed commitment to our original instructions and Kayanręhstí·yu·, simultaneously reinforces our dedication in protecting our environment and our vulnerable ecosystems. With this committal, we will invite all our friends and allies to our table to help create and amend a substantial climate action plan that will not only serve our people within our immediate territory, but within all our historical and traditional territories as well. We also hope that this may help set an example for all our kinspeople and neighbors alike so that we may share in this greener future. We Skaroreh Katenuaka will dedicate our space to serve as a center of education for environmental protection.
Our traditional laws discuss the importance of our deceased and how to properly respect their remains. We are aware of a great number of our relatives who have been exhumed from their burials and held without our consent or inclusion in their disposition in future reinternment. We have committed ourselves to their return and will continue to fight for their peace. We will dedicate their space within our territory so that they may receive a proper reburial amongst their own kinspeople. We expect the state government of North Carolina, and the Federal government to comply with our request and see to that these institutions, which are funded by public tax dollars, adhere to ours and their law and safely return our relatives to us.
We as a people have suffered greatly under the divide and conquer tactics of both the past and present. Today, our own people persecute us over religious beliefs, cultural understandings, the use of our language and attire and especially our general world view. Our oppressors have placed our people in such a position that they can now remove their hands and exclaim that we are doing this abuse to ourselves and that they have no part in our oppression. We stand to combat this tactic and use our territory as a space to help repair our relationships with all our relatives. We Katenuaka vow to not stand in our people's way as a roadblock, but instead as a bridge of support towards seeking justice. In return, we ask that respect is placed onto our people's right to continue to practice in our traditional way within our territory and beyond.
We as a people have suffered greatly from epidemics which are largely rooted in hundreds of years of food apartheids. Our traditional foodways can be traced back to our original instructions which mention that once we stop supporting and sharing our food systems with our relatives, we then would perish as a people. We Skaroreh Katenuaka intend to utilize our territory to revitalize, produce and protect our foodways as well as our foodkeepers from exploitation and abuse. These protections will include all sources of food in its entirety, be it wild, farmed or harvested.
We as a people have also been deprived of our access to medicine and healing practices. We watched as our loved ones die from treatable illnesses. When we sought treatment, we faced persecution and ridicule. We believe all our people should have access to healthcare. We likewise believe our medicines and healthcare and medicine workers should not face either abuse nor exploitation.
Within our territory, an economic system based on cooperation shall abound so that we may affirm our moral understanding of our people as family over competitors. Our policy shall be people over profit, and we shall reconsider anything that has or will negatively impact the health of our people and our environment within the next 7 generations and beyond. This is our traditional way passed down to us from our ancestors and a lesson we wish to carry onto our descendants.
Let us emphasize wampum 2 of Kayanręhstí·yu· which states that any of our people may trace back along the roots of peace and strength to us. And so, if they come with a Good Mind and pledge their obedience to our traditional law, they may seek shelter amongst us. We have sent word to our relatives, others of the Akunęhsyę̀·niʔ that our Longhouse is their Longhouse as long as they so abide by our traditional laws and respect our land.
It should be clearly understood that our indigenous nations have long held onto well established and well-structured governmental and social systems. These systems were developed hundreds, and in many cases, thousands of years prior to contact with European colonists. We contend that our government system and its laws just like our lands, have never been ceded to any foreign authority. We Skaroreh Katenuaka vow to maintain our traditional systems rooted in Kayanręhstí·yu· without the direct or indirect influence of any foreign entity such as band councils or any other agencies that would do us harm. We have sent notices to the President of the United States and the Governor of North Carolina to request that they re-establish our government to government relationships and work with us towards the return of our treaty rights and lands as well as our aboriginal rights. We have also sent the appropriate wampum and invitations to our brothers and sisters of other tribal nations to request our relationships be then also reestablished. We do not wish to work against our relatives, but alongside them for a stronger and secured future.