Sovereign Nations Series: Flags Symbolize National Identity for Tribal Nations and TCUs
June 16, 2022
June 14 is Flag Day, when the United States commemorates the adoption of the U.S. flag, reflective of the status of the U.S. as a sovereign nation. The Stars and Stripes, recognizable throughout the world, prompted me to think about the symbolism of flags and their representation of national identity, such as that the U.S. flag represents. Tribal flags are also representative of sovereign nations.
The celebration of Flag Day a suitable time to share insights into our history and our contemporary lives as Tribal people.
The U.S. government recognizes 574 Indian Tribes in the contiguous 48 states and Alaska as sovereign nations. Our nationhood is affirmed by the treaties signed between the U.S. government and tribal nations. Tribes asserted their sovereignty through the negotiation of treaties, often exchanging land for access to funding and services. Although the history of treaty-making is fraught with duress, manipulation, and lies (which runs counter to the notion that treaties, which as contracts, must be entered into with good faith and fair dealing on the part of both parties,) these legal compacts between sovereign nations established what is known as the trust relationship between the U.S. and Tribes. This trust relationship is overseen by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, situated in the U.S. Department of Interior.