Saturday, July 18, 2015

When Mad Bear Met Fidel: How Castro’s Cuba Advanced Native Sovereignty

Earlier this month, the United States announced that embassies would be reestablished in both the U.S. and Cuba. After roughly half a century of political stalemate between the two countries, the announcement is the latest action in a thawing diplomatic relationship. After the 1959 revolution, Fidel Castro’s nationalization of hundreds of private businesses and growing communist policies alienated the U.S. By 1962 President Kennedy had imposed a full economic embargo against Cuba, reinforcing Castro’s relationship with Russia during the frosty years of the Cold War.

The U.S.’s deteriorating relationship with Cuba paralleled its deteriorating relationship with Native nations. Termination as federal Indian policy had reached a fevered pitch in 1959, and there couldn’t have been a worse time for a tribal nation to be seeking federal recognition, but this is in fact how things played out for the Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of Florida. Truth being sometimes stranger than fiction, the Miccosukees’ relatively obscure story ties them to Fidel Castro’s split with the American government in a brilliant moment of American Indian political strategizing.


No comments: