Saturday, 18 February 2012

Colorado River Indian Tribes

For this blog task I decided to look at the Colorado River Indian Tribes (CRIT) website. The CRIT consists of four tribes: the Mohave, Chemehuevi, Hopi and Navajo and currently has approximately 3500 members. In 1865 the CRIT reservation was created by the Federal Government initially for the Mohave and Chemehuevi who had occupied the area of land for centuries, later people of the Hopi and Navajo were relocated to this reservation. The reservation is located along the Colorado river on both the Arizona and California side and is roughly 300,000 acres with the river being the focal point of the area.

Much like a state or county would have its own laws the CRIT do to. They have a council of nine people who are elected by tribe members and then serve a four year term. Also like the United States itself the tribe has its own constitution which outlines the laws from health and safety to taxation.

The website states that "The primary economic activity on the CRIT Reservation has always been agriculture" and that this still thrives in the community today with the growing of cotton, alfalfa and sorghum. However recently the tribe has branched out into new areas of business such as: real estate, retail and tourism. CRIT opened their own casino, Bluewater resort and casino and this is now one of their main sources of income. Also within the tourist sector the tribe host a range of events in which the paying public can join in and experience the CRIT way of life.

One aspect I thought was very interesting was the parallels that the tribe seem to have with American culture. For example there are beauty pageants held solely for Indian girls. This year a member of the Colorado River Indian Tribes won the Miss Indian Arizona title.

After Wednesday's lecture I was intrigued to see what the tribe call themselves as it was something that we discussed and never really came to a conclusion about. How should we address "Native Americans?" or what they would want to be called? CRIT continually refer to themselves as "Indians" throughout the website and from what I can see never refer to themselves as anything else.

From what I understood previous to this blog and Wednesday's lecture was that Native Americans were in some ways "in the past" as in they did not embrace new technology because they were at one with nature or take on new business ideas. However the CRIT have changed that stereotype that I had as they have branched out into new businesses and have seen ways to advance themselves in Americas current economic situation. Also, regarding technology they seem to utilize new technologies, especially that of social networking to their advantage. For example the tribe have their own Twitter and Facebook pages in order to keep people update with the goings on in their tribe. This could also be a way of keeping younger members within the tribe set up, thus keeping their tribe thriving and not dying out.

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