In this excerpt, Louie Pitt talks about how tribes have had to fight with America for their way of life since day one.
Bio: Louie Pitt works for the Warm Springs tribe in Governmental Relations. Louie Pitt works to continue traditional culture education opportunities, and advocates for treaty rights and protection of natural resources. He is the brother of artist Lillian Pitt.
America has messed over Indian people right from day one. We took good care of folks and helped them, some of them didn’t cooperate and got wiped out, non Indians, and Indians too. And it’s been kinda a war ever since. And the Warm Springs tribes and those tribes on the Big River that are above Bonneville Dam, the four treaty tribes we call them, cut those deals called treaties. And in there, there are strong tools, strong language, that we use as tools to protect our Indian way of life. With America. We use in courts today, America is supposed to be a nation of laws, not of men, and so we were able to use that. Other tribes, such as the Western Oregon tribes, they didn’t get such a good deal. I’m not saying our deal was perfect, is that we’ve had to fight for that way of life, guaranteed through the treaties. Since day one. If you read a book called ‘The Celilo Way’ it talks about that pretty much young tribal people, or earlier tribal people, maybe they weren’t young, but just kinda laying foundations for us older folks to build on. And that’s really kinda the message for the future. Is that tribal people, when is it time to learn your language? Anytime is fine. When is it time to learn more about your tribal ways and where you’re from? Anytime is fine to do that. Time to quit smoking, lose a few pounds, drive a little slower, be nice to your mate, whole bunch of things. Now is that time, like my dad used to say.