Indigenous perspective on 20th anniversary of 9/11

By Marena Mane

According to Jonodev Chaudhuri of the Muscogee Creek tribe, the borders between the United States and Canada, as well as between the United States and Mexico, were closed as a result of the events of 9/11, and several tribal nations were unable to move across their native homelands due to those closures.

“Well, just as the world was changed, Indian country was certainly impacted from the lockdown on security that took place after 9/11.”

It's the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks that rocked the world and international relations to their core.

It prompted two wars, the most recent of which concluded only weeks ago with an historic American withdrawal from Afghanistan.

The downstream impacts on America's indigenous populations, on the other hand, are little known.

According to Chaudhuri, a lot of efforts had to be made with the State Department and Homeland Security to ensure treaty rights were maintained, allowing tribal nations to freely move across borders.

Chaudhuri recalls being awoken by his family and seeing the horrible events unfold on television but, from an indigenous viewpoint, he believes it's important to recognise the tribal nations that erected the structures that were destroyed.

The Hausenosaunee, or Iroquois people of the Northeast, created the New York City skyline, including sections of the World Trade Center, according to Chaudhuri. The Empire State Building and the World Trade Center were built with the aid of Mohawk construction workers and engineers.

“So, indigenous people have a long history with New York City and the development of New York City. So the impact of /911 had a unique impact on the perceptions in Indian country as well.”

Iraq and Afghanistan veterans

Chaudhuri says Native Americans have traditionally had the greatest rate of signing up into the military in the United States.

“That's remarkable given at times unfortunate and horrific treatment that native communities have faced at the hands of the US government. Despite that history, our communities have always stepped up when the United States has been threatened, and 9/11 was no exception,” he says.

Despite Indian country's acknowledgement of the significance of serving the country, Chaudhuri claims not enough assistance has been provided to veterans in the aftermath, including the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

“When you have PTSD from warfare coupled with historic trauma, intergenerational trauma that Native nations face, you have a double whammy and that's the challenge that indigenous communities face in terms of providing meaningful culturally attuned services that support our warriors.”