Senator John Barrasso
Dear Senator Barrasso,
Congratulations on your election to Chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs.
A recent report by the Government Accountability Office (“GAO”) referenced the fact that internal tribal disputes “seem to be occurring more and more frequently”.
Such disputes have resulted in the disenrollment, banishment, denial of membership, stripping of voting rights, and/or denial of health/medical benefits of thousands of Indians.
In response to the growing number of these types of disputes, the GAO felt it was necessary and appropriate that nominees to the Secretary of Interior be asked how they would address such issues. I feel the same should be asked of the new chairman of the Indian Affairs committee. Since most of the civil and human rights abuses have occurred under Democratic leadership , I believe it is also important to know how you have or would work with individual Indians in trying to resolve or prevent such disputes.
Therefore, I would like to know where you stand and what you believe your role as Chairman would be regarding (1) internal tribal disputes and (2) the protection and preservation of individual Indians’ basic rights in internal disputes. In addition, do you believe that tribal sovereignty and the protection of basic individual rights are mutually exclusive of each other?
I eagerly await your response to the questions raised above.