Tribal Minds, Inc. condemns the Supreme Court’s recent string of decisions that negatively impact Nevada Natives.
On June 24, in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the Supreme Court overturned the right to abortion in the United States. Abortion remains legal in Nevada, but as an organization based in Native Nevada, we see this decision's negative impacts on the people and the land here as well. For one, we, like all Native people, were subject to abduction and displacement as part of U.S. policy. Many Native people were cut off from their people and land and now live in places where abortion is now illegal. Our sovereignty of Indigenous people does not end at the border of our land when those borders were forced upon us and used against us. Nevada Natives that remain on their land still face poverty, a lack of adequate healthcare and sanitation, and can remain structurally barred from real abortion access.
The repeal of federal abortion rights also will exacerbate the crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, and two-spirit relatives (MMIWG2S). Control over our reproduction has always been parcel to genocide against us. Many relatives were sterilized by force and the Indian Health Service already only extends abortion access to extreme cases. Indigenous people in states where rights are overturned will face even worse situations than before. Black and Indigenous people are two to three times more likely to die of their pregnancy, according to the CDC, and the barring of Indigenous people in abusive relationships from abortion access could “force the victim to stay in a bad situation and lead to more violence.” Overturning Roe massively extends the amount of time that an abortion may take by forcing Indigenous people to travel even greater distances. Many Indigenous people will remain trapped in violence.
After targeting our human rights by overturning Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court then decided to attack Tribal sovereignty. Oklahoma v. Castro-Huerta extends state power over Indian Country and stands in stark violation of the federal government’s treaty promises. The unceded land of the Muscogee Nation can now be infringed upon by the police of the State of Oklahoma. That is unauthorized, unprecedented and unconsented. As Levi Rickert wrote, “this diminishes tribal sovereignty and jurisdiction to protect Tribal citizens. Failure to protect Tribal citizens is, in effect, the same as waging war against us.”
We now await the Supreme Court’s decision on Brackeen v. Haaland, which affects the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA). The Court has yet another opportunity to harm our communities. Prior to ICWA’s passage, 75% to 80% of all families living on reservations lost at least one child to the foster care system and 25% to 35% of all Native children were separated from their families. That systematic destruction of our kinship ties and communities directly links to much of the intergenerational trauma plaguing Indigenous people today. If the Supreme Court rules that parts of ICWA are unconstitutional, they choose to continue this year’s outright assault on Indian Country and open Indigenous people up to even further possibilities for suffering.
We believe that every single one of these decisions affects us as Native people. We are all wrapped into networks of interconnectedness and relations that bind us together with the land. The harm done to one of us is harm done to all of us.
We move forward equipped with newfound mission. No matter what the Court decides on the cases presented to them, we will continue to support Tribal sovereignty and move forward on projects to aid our communities. We call on all relatives to do the same.