Attorney General Eric Holder is jumping through hoops this week to initiate a civil rights investigation into the death of Florida teen Trayvon Martin. The teen was killed in self defense by George Zimmerman, a tragic event for all involved.
It's easy to understand why an African American Attorney General would stand in front of the NAACP and proclaim his division will look into an issue that was settled by the FBI. It's harder to understand why AG HOLDER would turn his back on THOUSAND of aggrieved Native Americans with out so much as a look-see.
We AGAIN ask ERIC HOLDER to task his Civil Rights Division to investigate gross civil and human rights abuses.
In 2009, we sent hundreds of letters to Attorney General Holder:
Dear Attorney General Holder:
I respectfully submit this letter urging the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division to commence a full-scale investigation into the gross civil and human rights violations which have infected California Indian Country
Throughout California Indian Country, tribal officials have taken actions which have denied and/or stripped thousands of California Indians of their membership status and denied them access to federal benefits and programs in the areas of housing, education, health, voting and public works assistance. In some instances, the illegal actions occurred decades ago, however, there has been a marked increase since Indian Gaming was approved and later expanded in California.
Tribal leaders justify their right to systematically deny civil rights and expel their citizens under the guise of tribal sovereignty. Tribal leaders have routinely committed acts to deny Indian individuals due process; equal protection of tribal, state, and federal laws; property interest rights; and voting rights. Theses actions have been carried out in gross violation of laws enacted to guarantee and protect the rights of the individual Indian.
We can no longer allow those who oppose upholding the civil and voting rights of thousands of California Indians to claim that this is a sovereignty issue that rests solely within the domain of tribal courts and tribal law. Few California Tribes actually have tribal courts. Therefore, in most cases, the tribal government officials responsible for the violations of law are the very same people who pass judgment as to whether or not laws have been violated - they are the judge and jury all rolled into one.
The United States has a trust responsibility to the thousands of California Indians whose civil and voting rights have been infringed upon. And, in recognition of the special status of California Indians, Congress passed California Enrollment Act of 1928 in which certain rights were guaranteed to California Indians and their lineal descendents. 25 U.S.C. § 651.
Unfortunately, the Bureau of Indian Affairs has failed to exercise this responsibility and has allowed tribal leaders to continue to commit violations unabated. Therefore, I believe that the DOJ has the legal and moral responsibility to investigate and prosecute such violations of basic rights.
Civil rights abuse at Pechanga