Native Americans Seek Economic Freedom With Own Digital Currency


Kevin Samson
Activist Post

Digital currencies – or cryptocurrencies as they are also called – have been on a tumultuous path since their inception. While Bitcoin has taken center stage with its wild fluctuations, scandals, and equal parts zealotry, there are a range of alternative currencies attempting to offer a decentralized solution to dependence upon governmental monetary systems.

The concept has drawn the attention of a 7-tribe cooperative of the Traditional Lakota Nation. The currency is called MazaCoin, a product of an anonymous developer, and now being championed by programmer and Native American activist, Payu Harris.

The new currency took a prominent place during the latest meeting at The Bitcoin Center in New York City. Payu Harris explained the uniqueness of the cryptocurrency, as well as the unique position in which Native Americans find themselves, and why they might have the upper hand when taking on a federal government, which has given a lukewarm reception to cryptocurrencies as they aim to define them and potentially tax and control their evolution.

MazaCoin is an outcropping of Bitcoin, which has become the official currency of the Lakota Nation. While adopting an alternative currency to the one currently peddled by the morally (and literally) bankrupt U.S. government makes a bold statement, it is the creation of a proprietary currency like MazaCoin that symbolizes independence. The Verge explains:

Currencies knit communities together. Having one’s own currency is empowering; the Latvian 5-lat coin, nicknamed “Milda” for the woman in traditional clothing depicted on it, became a symbol of Latvian independence during the Soviet occupation. A dedicated currency also boosts economic activity within a community, the impetus behind the (questionably legal) hyperlocal currency movement that has produced alternative monies such as BerkShares, IthacaHours, and the Brooklyn Torch.

Keeping the economy local has been a troubling issue for Native Americans that has resulted in a divided and poverty-stricken underclass that has seen the great majority of money leaving the community. It’s a fundamental situation that needs to be remedied, and Harris invokes a parallel from the past to make his point.

“I think cryptocurrencies could be the new buffalo,” he says. “Once, it was everything for our survival. We used it for food, for clothes, for everything. It was our economy. I think MazaCoin could serve the same purpose.”

However, it is the “questionably legal” part which is again rearing its head with MazaCoin’s statement of economic independence. Allegedly, the proposal has already drawn the attention of the FBI who issued a “reminder” that it would be illegal. (Source)

However, as it stands, Native Americans have a special legal status that, as Payu Harris asserts, means that they “on sovereign soil,” which enables them to mandate currencies that can be used within their borders.

But as with all things legal, and especially monetary, a convoluted structure presents potential issues that might ultimately impact the success of the MazaCoin concept.

“There hasn’t been a tribal nation that has declared its own currency and has mandated that that currency is used within its borders,” Iron Eyes (legal counsel) says. “But it’s because of this pervasive, ever-present asserted dominion of the United States. They’ll try to shut us down, try to cite us with law violations.”

A couple of additional practical concerns must also be resolved:

  1. A great number of individuals are not tech savvy, especially the older generation, which has created an inherent distrust of the proposal.
  2. Abandoning the dollar might also eliminate the subsidies attached to its use.

In the end, the legal and practical issues that are being addressed within the Lakota nation are not altogether dissimilar to those faced by U.S. society at large. I don’t wish to denigrate the enslavement experienced by our nation’s original inhabitants, but the following quote from Iron Eyes also applies to the vast majority of us who have had their country usurped over the last 100 years by the private criminal organization called the Federal Reserve:

“We’ve gone through 100 years of imposed poverty. That’s the fight we’re having,” he says. “What we’re trying to do with MazaCoin is just spark something to get us out of this cycle of victimhood.”

It is a sentiment shared by those of us who are proponents of Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies. Can we really do worse than the Federal Reserve?

To critics of the cryptocurrency movement, perhaps it would be wise to remember that in this case the journey itself is of paramount importance even if the destination is later proven to have been misdirected.  

This is what Payu Harris ultimately wishes to capture for his Nation: that spirit of leadership and the journey to true independence:

“I want to get my people educated and show them this is the next level of finance,” Harris continues. “Let’s make the rest of the world play catch up. Let’s be leaders and rebuild the economy on our terms. We’re not going to ask the federal government if we can do this. I refuse to ask them to do anything within my own borders. When you have children going hungry, it’s time to focus.”

10 Ways Bitcoin is Better Than The Federal Reserve


Find out more about MazaCoin and the technical details from their website:

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