The indigenous inhabitants of the United States were not considered citizens until the Indian Citizenship Act of 1924. The Fourteenth Amendment of the US Constitution defines citizens as those born in the US. It bears the question, “How can you be a citizen of something you preceded?” Despite not being recognized as citizens, Native Americans fought/volunteered for military service along side US troops since the American Revolution. The Citizenship Act of 1924 was precipitated by Native American service in World War I. Native Americans hold a unique status within the United States. They are considered sovereign nations within the nation. My Tribal identification, which serves as proof to my belonging to the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin, is an accepted form of Federal Identification; like my government issued Driver’s License. However, I must utilize my United States Passport when I travel abroad. Shouldn’t I be able to posses a passport issued by the sovereign nation of the Oneida? These issues of fundamental rights of citizenship exist because of colonization. The underlying drawing for the research project “Radio Free Alcatraz” is a tool of discovery used to ask some of these fundamental questions about the resonant consequences of colonization.
Chris Cornelius, an enrolled member of the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin, focuses his research and practice on the architectural translation of indigenous culture. He is the founding principal of studio:indigenous, a design and consulting practice serving indigenous clients. Chris is an Associate Professor of Architecture at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. studioindigenous.com