Cornell Debate 2011-2012 File Name Debater Name Tournament Name


the apology is intended to inspire a



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the apology is intended to inspire a policy template to deal with legal and political redress for past wrongs, which are often reflected by the current needs of Native communities. It is clear from Gover’s remarks that the harms are much too complex and serious for a ‘quick fix’. Perhaps Native economies can be bolstered by gaming policies. Perhaps Native governments can be supported by the self-determination and self-governance acts and policies. But the process of healing for Native communities will require a much more nuanced version of federal policy dedicated to a moral, as well as legal, commitment to the notion of self-determination. What does it mean to facilitate ‘tribal self-determination’ if the tribal government is still under the control of the federal government and its larger agenda to American citizens? What does it mean to support ‘tribal autonomy’ if the majority of the tribal population lacks the educational and material resources to be fully autonomous citizens of either their own government or the U.S.? If a significant portion of Native adults are incarcerated and in poverty, if a significant portion of Native families are torn apart by substance abuse and domestic violence? These are the paradoxes of contemporary Indian policy that Gover acknowledges, and with which the process of healing must engage.

Finally, Assistant Secretary Gover's apology is intended, on a spiritual level, to set in motion the process of redirecting blame, healing spiritual trauma, and promoting a larger sense of collective responsibility on the part of the US government and its citizens. Importantly, the apology alone cannot actually do any of those things. Rather, it is intended to start that process in motion and begin a dialog about what must be done to heal the past. As Gover says, ‘we desperately wish that we could change this history, but of course we cannot’. The most that can be done is to ‘accept the moral responsibility for putting things right’.




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