Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The fast lane to first-class U.S. citizenship

The fast lane to first-class U.S. citizenship

by John Davis

As our government plans to begin the education portion of our quest towards political self determination, there’s another avenue that appears to bear more fruit than determining our island’s political status. That avenue is having our people recognized as a Native American tribe. Attempts to gain recognition of the Chamorro people as Native American tribes don’t effect the Guam quest for political self determination.

In fact, I view it as an enhancement to the current relationship with the U.S. Government.

Currently Chamorros are entitled to 2nd class U.S. Citizenship thanks to the passage of the Organic Act and the signing of the Treaty of Paris over a century ago. I say 2nd class citizenship or statutory citizenship because we don’t vote for president and we do not have equal representation in congress. We elect a delegate to congress, but they have no voting power on the floor. What makes matters worse is only certain parts of the U.S. Constitution and Basic Human Rights apply to Chamorro people because the U.S. Supreme Court recognized them and gave us those rights to 2nd class citizenship.

If Chamorro’s are recognized as a Native American tribe, members will be incorporated into an already existing federal law called the United States and the Indian naturalization Act. If the United States and Indian naturalization Act applies to members of the Chamorro Tribe, our existence as 2nd class U.S. citizens will end. Members of this Chamorro Tribe will be able to cast their vote for President, we might even get a vote that counts in the Electoral College and we will have equal voting representation in the U.S. Congress.

All it takes to be recognized as Native American is the approval of the Secretary of the U.S. department of interior. It doesn’t require an act of congress or special consideration from the president, but if it does happen, Guam and it’s Chamorro Native American tribe members will begin to reap real benefits from the federal government.

If Chamorro’s on Guam and abroad are recognized as a Native American tribe, members of the tribe would be able to help our island government with the upcoming military buildup, guaranteeing money before, during and after the buildup will stay on Guam. There is existing federal government policy related to the issuance of federal contracts that will help members of the Tribe.

That federal government policy entitles 30 percent of all federal government contracts to be awarded to Native American tribes. Native American tribes are also allowed to bid up to 30 percent over the contract amount and still receive special consideration as a Native American tribe. In fact, there is already a company doing business on Guam as a Native American Alaskan tribe, imagine the consideration they’re getting now and the consideration a Chamorro tribe would get if recognized by USDOI? Now that makes dollars and cents instead of dollars and nonsense.

Every year, money from the federal government is appropriated to recognized Native American tribes for schools, homes, businesses, public safety and healthcare. Our healthcare, education and public safety systems in our government could use some extra cash, which will be available if our people are recognized as a Native American tribe.

If you’re not a member of the Chamorro Tribe, sign up and get involved. Even the United Nations Expert on Political Status agreed gaining recognition as a Native American tribe was the express lane to equal treatment and equal representation from the U.S. Government. I say we follow his lead, but lead the way for our people.

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