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>>   Letters from the Universal House of Justice
Abstract:
American Indian nations are not fully sovereign and thus do not have their own National Spiritual Assemblies.
Notes:
Transmitted by email.

Indian Nations and National Spiritual Assemblies

by / on behalf of Universal House of Justice

2002-01-13

1. Question to the Universal House of Justice

... I would like to mention something for the consideration of our beloved House of Justice. As you may know, the American Indian Reservations in the U.S.A. are officially considered by the United States government to be sovereign states under the protection of, but independent from, the United States of America. I was recently reading an article on American Indian prophecies, which can be found at: bahai-library.com/brown_american_indian_prophecies.

In it Mr. Brown speaks about the necessity for all of the peoples to come together, including the Indians, who thus far have been largely excluded. I was wondering if perhaps the Indian Nations could be officially recognized by the Universal House of Justice as such and blessed with the formation of their own National Spiritual Assembly(ies). I do not know if there are enough Bahá'ís on any one Reservation to form such a holy body, but perhaps all of them combined could possibly qualify for a joint one, as the Beloved Guardian did for Africa in 1953, when he combined many countries into one giant National Spiritual Assembly area ...

2. Response from the Universal House of Justice

12 February 2002

Dear Bahá'í Friend,

Your email message of 13 January 2002 has been warmly received at the Bahá'í World Centre, and we can reply as follows.

The Universal House of Justice was touched by the spirit of love and devotion expressed in your letter and has noted your suggestion that it consider officially recognizing native American reservations as sovereign states. In response to a similar recommendation, the following was provided on behalf of the House of Justice:

...Clearly, this recommendation was prompted by a conscientious desire, inspired by basic Bahá'í principles, to assist the downtrodden to rise to the full realization of their rights and responsibilities as human beings. Indeed, the purpose of the coming of Bahá'u'lláh is to lift the yoke of oppression from his loved ones, to liberate all the people of the world, and to provide the means for their abiding happiness. In this regard, the Tablets of the Divine Plan addressed by 'Abdu'l-Bahá to North America make it clear that the destiny of the native Americans as an illumined and fulfilled people is linked to the quality of their response to the Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh. The primary obligation of the American Bahá'ís must therefore be to see that the Divine Message is effectively delivered to the native peoples. In their effort, the friends must be certain to demonstrate through their attitude, actions and words the genuineness of their belief in the Faith's central principle, namely, the oneness of humankind.

The friends will, too, want to assist in ways that are appropriate and practical towards resolving the complex issues confronting the native peoples. But since these issues, like tribal governance, sovereignty and local self-determination, are frequently entangled in political contention, the friends must guard against such entanglements lest the character and purpose of the Faith be jeopardized. Sovereignty, for instance, is essentially a political matter, as it is concerned with claims to political autonomy and its far-reaching implications. While American Indian tribes may justifiably be regarded as nations, they are not nation states within the Federation of the United States of America. Determining questions of sovereignty is the prerogative of established political authorities....
You may be assured of the ardent prayers of the House of Justice in the Holy Shrines that the Blessed Beauty may guide your steps and confirm your endeavors in service to our beloved Cause.

      With loving Bahá'í greetings,
      Department of the Secretariat
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