In this excerpt, Antone Minthorn (Umatilla) discusses the inherent rights Indigenous people have to their lands and the impact of treaties.
Bio: Antone Minthorn has served for more than twenty years with the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation (CTUIR) in various roles, from chief planner to chair of the board of trustees. He is a founding board member of Confluence.
It’s taking care of the resources, it’s understanding the tribes and the tribe’s treaty rights and relationships with the United States government. That they’re there, that from way back that there were these treaties, promises made with these people coming in and their government. And fighting with the Native Americans and the war and people dying there and then having a treaty to stop it, to stop those wars, to stop those fightings.
And to let the natives have the rights to their property, their lands. And that it’s written down that that’s the policy of the United States government regarding their relationship with Indian tribes. But they did it on paper okay but then they didn’t respect it. And that’s where the tribes then lost a lot of their right, their treaty rights and their fishing and land was lost. And some of them maybe went to other tribes or just stayed and lived without a reservation there. And I think there are still those yet coming back. There’s still a history. It is still alive, yet very much alive. In Umatilla, because it restored its treaty rights, sovereignty and self-governance could hire the people, could hire the attorneys, hire the archaeologists, anthropologists, planners to — that know how to solve problems and to walk the talk. And that’s what they’ve been doing. When they talked to the other side about a problem, whether it has to do its fishing or water or land, then they come to a compromise. A win-win situation. You respect my rights. I’ll respect your rights, since you’re here and you got it. But I need some of that to help — so I can live. And then you get to that win-win. And when you get to that win-win. you become one. Together.