by Lana Marcussen
Citizens Equal Rights Alliance (CERA) strongly supports constitutionally limited government. Unfortunately, the original Constitution didn’t adequately protect two groups of people. For various reasons, both black slaves and American Indians were not provided with constitutional protections. The Civil War was fought to end black slavery. The Civil War amendments were passed and black slavery was over. However, these amendments only applied to the states, and not to the national government. Just ten years after the end of the Civil War, a new kind of slavery was created by the national government. It was the declared policy of the national government to hold American Indians in “protective ward status.” Indians were specifically segregated on reservations and denied the rights of citizenship.
The national government does not have the power to discriminate or segregate the People because of race, religion, ethnic background, sex, or income capacity. If we the People continue to allow the national government to discriminate and segregate us, we give away the right of our communities to manage our own resources. State and local government is in the best position to balance environmental and employment concerns. The national government’s role is to create a usable structure of laws to enhance commerce between the states. This structure must include laws which prevent one state from harming the resources of another state. When the national government grants one racial group “statehood status” over resources, it discriminates against all other persons in the state. The national government has also “reserved rights” from many states for the benefit of its “wards.” This action prevents the state from regulating its own resources by actually segregating the reserved lands from the laws of the state.
We must be “One People” for our Constitution to work. This does not mean we must all be the same. Diversity of individuals is one of the strengths of this nation. But we must all have the same individual rights according to the law. “Equal protection of the law” is the way it is written in the 14th Amendment, the greatest of the Civil War Amendments. It is time to end the power of the national government to discriminate and segregate.
This country fought a great and costly Civil War to give black slaves the “equal protection of the law.” American Indians on reservations are still without the equal protection of the law. Gaining equal Constitutional rights for reservation residents is the greatest civil rights struggle remaining in America today. CERA is committed to this last great civil rights struggle. “We the People” should be One People Under One Law.