Register for an account


Enter your name and email address below.

Your email address is used to log in and will not be shared or sold. Read our privacy policy.


Website access code

Enter your access code into the form field below.

If you are a Zinio, Nook, Kindle, Apple, or Google Play subscriber, you can enter your website access code to gain subscriber access. Your website access code is located in the upper right corner of the Table of Contents page of your digital edition.

Planet Earth

Dept of Over Analysis

Collide-a-ScapeBy Keith KloorFebruary 8, 2009 7:45 PM


Sign up for our email newsletter for the latest science news

Some American Indian leaders and academics seem to think that President Obama's inaugural address advocated the disbanding of American Indian tribes, or at least the elimination of ethnic identities . Here's the offending passage:

"We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of the Earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace."

Most "jarring" to some Native American ears, is the phrase, that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve. This interpretation of Obama's intent from a Seneca law professor at Syracuse University should clear up any confusion:

"I don't think he was referring to Indian tribes, but I do think the words are disturbing. What the president was speaking to was the erasing of ethnic lines of distinction on a global level--lines of distinction which differentiate humanity--of which indigenous peoples are a part. So, in that sense, I'm concerned about the president's apparent desire to see the "tribal" lines that distinguish peoples from one another disappear."

    3 Free Articles Left

    Want it all? Get unlimited access when you subscribe.


    Already a subscriber? Register or Log In

    Want unlimited access?

    Subscribe today and save 50%


    Already a subscriber? Register or Log In