11/22/16 Indian Identity
Peggy Fontenot is an award-winning artist. Her work’s been shown nationwide, including the Smithsonian. But a new Oklahoma law prohibits her from identifying her Native American heritage or displaying her work as American Indian-made.
Here’s what’s happening behind the headlines.
This law allows only those in federally-recognized tribes to call their products American-Indian made. Fontenot is a member of the Virginia-recognized Patawomeck tribe. Her ancestors welcomed the Jamestown settlers.
Here’s the irony. Oklahoma prohibits her from truthfully calling her work American-Indian made even though she’s been given an award by Oklahoma City’s Red Earth American Indian Museum.
This law violates Fontenot’s First Amendment rights.
It also gives unfair advantage to members of politically-favored tribes: Only those recognized in Washington. And the process to get federal recognition is long, complicated and very political. Hundreds of tribes are not recognized.
Consider this. Today, an individual of one sex, can declare they’re another sex and the feds insist this must be honored. Peggy Fontenot can trace her lineage back hundreds of years but is not allowed to call herself Native American until a Washington bureaucrat approves.
Peggy Fontenot is suing the state. She’s represented by the Pacific Legal Foundation.
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