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Dear Senator Boxer:
Please accept this letter as a formal request to meet and discuss regarding the ever growing number of human and civil rights violations occurring in California Indian Country. Specifically, I would like to provide you with information on this growing problem and propose possible solutions which would ensure that individuals are afforded equal protections of the laws.
Congress has passed several laws which were originally intended to stamp out lawlessness in Indian Country and provide the victims of human and civil rights abuses a means to protect and preserve those rights. For example, in 1968, Congress passed the Indian Civil Rights Act (“ICRA”). The ICRA was a federal statute which was intended to extend constitutional rights to individual Indians and thereby “protect individual Indians from arbitrary and unjust actions of tribal governments.”
However, the ICRA failed to include an effective enforcement mechanism whereby aggrieved individuals could hold the offending tribal government or official accountable for violations of the ICRA. And, in spite of the express prohibitions listed in the ICRA, tribal officials have oppressed a growing number of Indian and non-Indian individuals. Violations of the ICRA committed include, but are not limited to, the following:
1. Denied individuals of due process.
2. Failed to provide equal protection of tribal, state, and federal laws.
3. Subjected individuals to ex post facto laws.
And, sadly enough, California Tribes such as the Picayune Rancheria of the Chukchansi Indians, Enterprise Rancheria, Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians, the Jamul Indian Village , and Redding Rancheria--among numerous others--are leading the way.
The very circumstances which necessitated the ICRA’s introduction and enactment have once again taken root in Indian Country, and each day that passes finds more and more United States citizens being deprived of the basic human and civil rights provided for in the ICRA, the United States Constitution, and tribal laws.
Individuals are also being deprived of all the benefits and privileges afforded Federally Recognized Indians. These benefits and privileges include, but are not limited to, the ability to participate in tribal elections and tribal business; access to medical care; access to senior care; access to schooling and education assistance; access to health and life insurance benefits; and access to per capita distribution payments.
More importantly, their identity as members of federally recognized tribes—including their culture, heritage, and tradition--has been stolen even though their existence as legitimate Indian People can be undeniably verified through federal and tribal documents.
Now, more than in any time since the passage of the ICRA, Congress must exercise its plenary authority to protect the basic human and civil rights of individuals from the arbitrary and unjust actions of tribal officials. The continued and unabated abuses of Federal, State and Tribal laws by tribal officials show complete disregard for Congress’ desire and intent when passing the ICRA- to provide a means of redress to Indians aggrieved by tribal officials.
It is imperative that the basic rights of individuals be protected from further transgressions, and until such time these basic rights are recognized and upheld on par with those of other United States citizens, a growing number of individuals will be subjected to the same types of arbitrary and unjust acts Congress intended to outlaw decades ago.
I therefore respectfully request a meeting with you or a representative of your office to discuss the growing number of violations of human and civil rights which are occurring in California Indian Country. I will be eagerly awaiting a response.