On Independence Day, we celebrate being American and Chickasaw

Our American Declaration of Independence this month celebrates its 244th anniversary.

Adopted by the Second Continental Congress on July 4, 1776 in Philadelphia, the Declaration marks one of the most significant events in our country’s long existence. With the Declaration, Americans rejected colonialism and declared their 13 states independent of Britain.

As Chickasaws and Americans, we celebrate what it means to us, and to all Americans. At the same time, we celebrate our Chickasaw Nation sovereignty and the many Chickasaw contributions to the evolving story of the United States.

Chickasaws, and citizens of many other tribal nations, had significant impact on the outcome of the American Revolutionary War. The tribes were recognized by both the Americans and British as powerful and skillful military powers. With the end of Revolutionary War hostilities, the Chickasaws and the Americans quickly made peace. The fledgling nation realized the importance of strong alliances with the tribes, and the Chickasaw Nation and its sister tribes were rightly recognized in the commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution as sovereign nations.

Of course, our history is of a tribe of longstanding with a fully functioning government. Our tribal government is the foundation upon which our sovereignty rests.

Each of us understands how we exist as a sovereign nation within the United States. We take much pride in being citizens of both the U.S. and the Chickasaw Nation. Despite the many hardships and challenges over the generations, we are loyal citizens of both sovereigns. Our history is unique and to be celebrated and honored.

Indian people have been among the most patriotic and giving American citizens. Indian men and women have served, and continue to serve, in the U.S. military at much higher levels than the American population overall. Indian citizens, since the country’s establishment, have compiled a consistent record of service and sacrifice to guarantee our precious American freedoms.

We have embraced the American nation, and all the good things our country represents.

Simultaneously, we love, honor and revere our tribe. Our Chickasaw culture and traditions have been preserved throughout the centuries of uneven Indian policy. Our tribal government has endured many challenges to continually function for hundreds, and likely thousands, of years. Most importantly, Chickasaws have relied on each other. We have maintained the strength of the Chickasaw Nation through the strength of our Chickasaw families, friends and fellow citizens.

For us, we cherish our citizenship in the Chickasaw Nation, and in the United States of America. We celebrate the relationship and freedoms, and honor the sacrifices.

We deeply appreciate all the blessings of being American, and being Chickasaw.