Thursday, April 9, 2015

Sen. John Barrasso is Requested to Hold Field Hearings IN CA, on Civil and Human Rights Abuses By Tribes on Native Americans.

Senate Indian Affairs Committee
838 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington , D.C. 20510

(202)228-2589 fax


Re: Request for Committee and field hearings on civil rights violations in Indian Country

Dear Chairman Barrasso and Honorable Committee Members:

I respectfully submit this letter as a request to your Committee to hold field hearings on the growing number of civil rights abuses occurring in Indian Country.  Your recent hearings at the Wind River Reservation shows your committment to finding the issues that are critical in Indian Country.

The number of civil rights violations in Indian Country has reached epidemic proportions. Thousands upon thousands have been stripped or denied the basic due process and equal protection rights provided for in the United States Constitution, the Indian Civil Rights Act of 1968 (“ICRA”), and tribal laws.

Most recently, a report by the Government Accountability Office (“GAO”) referenced the fact that internal tribal disputes “seem to be occurring more and more frequently”. 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.  We who have been harmed by tribes such as Pechanga, Pala, San Pasqual, Chukchansi, Redding, Grand Ronde and Nooksack to name just a few, would appreciate the opportunity to enlighten your committee on the issue.

The responsibility to address this issue does not lie with the Interior Secretary alone. Even the appelate court in CA erupted in derisive laughter in the recent Pala disenrollment hearing when it was stated that it was up to Congress to act. The number of civil rights violations in Indian Country will continue to grow unless Congress once again takes action, just as it did in enacting the ICRA, to further protect individuals from the “arbitrary and capricious” actions of tribal governments. Considering the current situation and an environment which rewards the villain and punishes the victim, I ask you, “How do you plan to address this problem?”

I believe that hearings on the current civil rights situation in Indian Country are not only warranted, they are long over due. Therefore, I respectfully request that your Committee hold hearings as an initial step to further action that will uphold and enforce the rights of those who, to date, have been stripped of or denied the basic rights guaranteed by law.

I trust you will thoughtfully consider my request, and I will eagerly await your response.

Respectfully submitted,

33 comments:

Anonymous said...

The bad actors need to face the truth.

Anonymous said...

The bad actors would rather dishonor the Ancestors who created ALL, strip rights of others and act like it's legal and ok the way it went down. Face the truth and respect our Ancestors, or let Congressional hearings show the truth so the liars can be recorded. Records are crystal clear.

Native Diamond said...

This all was meant to be and become..." behold native brothers and sisters' we have only begun...The Ravens Clan the wolve Clans and all the tigers Brethren will unite!and ..The Crazy horse decedents will hear our songs and will Rise Rise with us!For we supported them they will support us." Kokopelli flute is about to sound...

Native Diamond said...

This all was meant to be and become..." behold native brothers and sisters' we have only begun...The Ravens Clan the wolve Clans and all the tigers Brethren will unite!and ..The Crazy horse decedents will hear our songs and will Rise Rise with us!For we supported them they will support us." Kokopelli flute is about to sound...

Native Diamond said...

This all was meant to be and become..." behold native brothers and sisters' we have only begun...The Ravens Clan the wolve Clans and all the tigers Brethren will unite!and ..The Crazy horse decedents will hear our songs and will Rise Rise with us!For we supported them they will support us." Kokopelli flute is about to sound...

Anonymous said...

Silence no more let the thunder of the ancestors bring us together POLYSQWALIS SAYS

Anonymous said...

the Senate members should know that over 400 people have been provided this post and a request to send their support on behalf of the California natives to the Senate Committee Indian Affairs. I estimate that translates to facebook friend numbering 82,000.

Reinstatement_Restitution said...

I just submitted this letter to the contact form on the website of Senator John Barrasso, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs. I urge all the readers of Original Pechanga's Blog to do the same.

We can no longer tolerate the silence on the issue of civil rights abuses. One black man is shot in self defense and the Department of Justice immediately conducts an investigation. Thousands of Indians suffer civil rights abuses over the last decade and not a single representative, agency employee, judge, or local politician will comment, respond, or act on behalf of those who have been harmed.

It is unacceptable! We demand to be heard, and we demand a response!

O Pechanga said...

Two Senate computers checked the blog today, coming in on this post.

WE ARE BEING NOTICED.

Use the form request at RR suggested above, or fax, or ask a friend if you can FAX in their name. One for EACH ADULT....

O Pechanga said...

ADDITIONALLY,

You can share each post on this blog, via TWITTER, Facebook and Pinterest, there are buttons at the end of each post.

On Facebook, you can TAG many of the departments by using the @ character and typing in a department name, @USIndianAffairs @John Barrasso and your SENATORS... BOXER and FEINSTEIN...

Anonymous said...

You should try and ask for a reformation to the IGRA. You can ask to amend IGRA in order to protect tribal members from the power of the tribe. Since most people think money, power, and greed are driving disenrollment and that the main tribes who are disenrolling are gaming tribes, when the time comes ask that IGRA includes language that guarantees federal rights/ protections to tribal members in exchange for States negotiating or renewing tribal gaming compacts. Just a thought on how to frame an argument.

O Pechanga said...

why do peopke say YOU SHOULD...

How about...let me write up something to frame an arguement?..?

Reinstatement_Restitution said...

Amending the IGRA in this manner would require some form of oversight. Would the NIGC be responsible for reviewing the actions of gaming tribes and protecting the rights of tribal members? They are not set up for this kind of job, and do no have the staff or budget to properly oversee the actions of tribes, nor should they be empowered in this manner.

The BIA has the staff and could perform this kind of oversight, but do you really want the BIA to be responsible for protecting the rights of tribal members? They have already completely and utterly failed in every possible way to even recognize that there is such a thing as an individual Indian.

Then we have the problem of trying to accomplish too many things and losing focus. Do we need an amendment to the ICRA to add provision for enforcement? Yes!

Do we need investigations into civil rights abuse in Indian Country? Yes!

Do we need a policy statement from the Department of Justice as to how they plan to protect the rights of individuals who have been disenrolled and denied due process and equal protection under the law? Yes!

Do we nee the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs to properly define tribal sovereignty so that tribal leaders can not infringe on the civil rights of tribal members? Yes!

If we try to do too much though, we will not get anything done. I say we need to focus on a task until we get a response.

Now I think I am going to change this letter and request for the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs to put pressure on the Department of Justice to conduct investigations into civil rights violations in Indian Country and to develop a policy that defines the role of the department in protecting the civil rights of tribal members caught up in membership disputes.

If we drive the movement with focus and perhaps we will get some action.

Anonymous said...

Yes I also copied the letter and added my own experience and filled out the form on http://www.barrasso.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/contact-form
This is so easy to do, please people do it, the more letters he get, he might actually listen to us. Be the Squeaky wheel!

O Pechanga said...

I followed your lead and ALSO sent this letter to BOXER and Feinstein. For those in other States, ask your two Senators for THEIR SUPPORT in asking Senator Barrasso for his help.

Anonymous said...

Maybe IGRA should be suspended while these actions are being discussed. Congressional hearings told Macarro et al that water settlements are not allowed until these issues are settled. Why does Macarro want gaming only on reservations when the band does not want to face the truth on how his reservation was created? All band members should share in All areas. That's ICRA IGRA and water rights.

White Buffalo said...

Reinstatement_Restitution OP is right you should draft a letter. I know you are capable. I write my own. I have read your post and they are informative and accurate. Personalizing a letter insures that it gets noticed. Writing letters with pen and paper works well as well in fact it shows the effort of the writer and gives weight to the message.

Reinstatement_Restitution said...

White Buffalo,
Already done. Sent it this morning. The Senator's contact reply says he only responds to his constituents in Wyoming. I sent another message asking that he consider responding to me since his duties extend beyond Wyoming as the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs.

So perhaps he will respond. Anyone else who uses the contact form on his website should also ask him to respond even if they are not Wyoming voters. It is unreasonable for him to deny the wider purview of his responsibilities to all Indians.

Kenneth Hansen said...

Letter sent to Sen. Barrasso, Rick. I'm happy to testify, if they'll actually do this.

Alexandra McIntosh said...

In addition to faxing letters from my office, I have just send a message to Sen. Barrasso through the contact e-mail on his web site. I am going to do the same message to each of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs members. It is time that there are hearings held on the issues in Indian Country.

Anonymous said...

Fighting Opression for decades from outside, now facing almost 10yrs. of Opression from within our band. Trying to take away others heritage, and cultural rights saying that is our right to do. Our Ancestors deserve more respect. We may never ALL get along, but we need to open our hearts to the truth. Our Children deserve better days than what is taking place. We ALL need to wake up to the truth.

Native Diamond said...

He Responds to his constituents in Wyoming?? What the f!...That man needs to be waken up from the dead.I know a few natives who will stalk his Conformed zone, if he thinks The California Natives requests are not as Important as the Wyomingites.Mr Senator do-sent' realize, This isn't a small issue..."War and karma waits for no man"...

Reinstatement_Restitution said...

Native Diamond,
I agree wholeheartedly. I sent a follow up message pointing out that as Chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs he duties and responsibilities extend beyond his constituency. Even though American Indians outside Wyoming cannot vote for him, his actions, statements, and decisions, have a far ranging impact when performed from his position on the Committee.

Anyone else that wants to should remind him of the same thing. Keep in mind that he most probably did not create the website himself, and he may not even have reviewed the policy. That might be the job of an assistant. Numerous messages from Indians stating their concerns will most likely escalate those concerns and attract attention.

One thing we can all be sure of:

Silence, though golden, will accomplish nothing.

O Pechanga said...

RR..I AM STEALING the Silence quote...

Reinstatement_Restitution said...

It is original, and you may quote me.

Anonymous said...

O Pechanga

I wrote "you should" because I have no interest in writing anything to anybody, except express my opinion on your blog. I was merely suggesting the only way to force gaming tribes to recognize/protect human rights of their members. Every other Avenue will not work. The SCOTUS has given their opinion on tribal membership, ICRA, due process, and equal protection of rights, and it favors tribes. When that happens, the only Avenue is to lobby Congress to either reform the law, or to create new legislation.

Anonymous said...

R&R
Amending ICRA will not do anything since the US Constitution does not apply to Indian Country and the SCOTUS has already defined how the "equal protection" and "due process" clauses are to be interpreted and applied to Indian Country. The Department of Justice has no jurisdiction in tribal membership issues nor can they infringe on already decided SCOTUS legally binding opinions regarding how "equal protection" and "due process" are applied in Indian Country. Asking the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs to "define" tribal sovereignty is ludicrous and dangerous. The definition that the US government uses is very different than how tribally defined notions of sovereignty are applied, hence the full body of law called "Federal Indian Law." The NIGC should not nor could they legally oversee any type of amended IGRA provision unless the operation of gaming facilities is directly tied to any reformed provision. The BIA'S purpose and main function is to overseer tribal government functions, not individual indians, unless they are tribal members or allotment trust land owners, but then are only allowed to give recommendations depending on the provisions of each tribal governing document delegating the BIA specific oversight powers. I think the only way to force tribal Gaming governments to recognize human/civil rights of their members is to amend IGRA and place provisions that make any negotiation between States and tribes regarding compacts contingent on protecting individual Indians. Any disputes would therefore be decided in federal courts where the majority of conflicts regarding how federal law interacts within Indian Country resides. Force the problem into court and hopefully the SCOTUS will be forced to interpret and rule on how civil/human rights, tribal sovrtegnity, and loss of membership interact with the rights of gaming tribes to increase wealth by diminish mentioned of members. Is it the tribes right to destroy itself, or does the fiduciary/paternalistic nature of the US/tribal government relationship step in and prevent loss, and if so how. Although this is a stretch, I think it is better than redefining tribal sovereignty and tribal membership nationwide because that road is harder, SCOTUS has already ruled in Santa Clara Pueblo v. Martinez.

O Pechanga said...

Pala's attorney claimed that the Supreme Court said that Congress SHOULD ACT in Martinez. The video will be up shortly. Appeals court LAUGHED at Congress's inaction.

Reinstatement_Restitution said...

In 1924 the United States granted all American Indians U.S. Citizenship. What does that mean to Indians? That should mean they are entitled to all the protections of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, but somehow the federal government has ignored these rights. As members of sovereign nations, American Indians possess dual citizenship. Instead of recognizing the unique dual nature of their citzenship, the federal government has created separate and unequal citizenship for American Indians.

On the reservation American Indians are governed by tribal law, and subject to the authority of tribal government. Off the reservation American Indians are subject to the local, state, and federal jurisdictions as they apply. Disenrolled American Indians are removed from the laws and authority of their tribe. They become simple U.S. Citizens at that point, and should be treated as such; however, the BIA instantly turns against disenrollees, refuses them due process, and denies them equal protection under the law. They do this by making disenrollees ineligible for federal services and programs, and they provide no notification, no hearing, and no opportunity for recourse or remedy.

To make matters worse, the BIA consistently gives deference to tribal leaders, especially when they disenroll members, and insist that the agency has no jurisdiction, that these are membership disputes and internal tribal matters in which they cannot intervene. So these former tribal members, even those living on allotted land on reservations, are not allowed to participate in revenue sharing, or to have access to shared land and assets of the reservation, or even to be buried beside their family members.

Now I offer up a new strategy to dispossessed and disenfranchised Indians. As U.S. Citizens they should not accept this kind of bias and discrimination. They should demand equal protection and due process, and not as tribal members, because they are not tribal members, but as U.S. Citizens. They are the harmed parties, and the Department of Justice has a responsibility to investigate civil rights violations to U.S. Citizens wherever they occur. The decisions of the Supreme Court that apply to Indians do not apply to the disenrollees, and it is up to the disenrollees to challenge any court that tries to claim lack of jurisdiction due to sovereign immunity. Tribes possess common-law immunity from suit, but they are not entitled to violate the rights of U.S. Citizens. Congress already has adopted legislature that protects the rights of U.S. Citizens, and disenrollees merely have to point out to those who administrate and enforce the law that they are aware of these laws and protections and wish to exercise their rights.

So disenrollees it is time to challenge this unequal treatment. Don't allow the BIA, or the Courts, or any federal agency or office treat you as an Indian if you aren't a member of a federally recognized tribe. You may want to have your membership restored, but as an Indian you are subject to tribal law and authority; the tribe can violate your rights, and that has been proven over and over again. As a U.S. Citizen you have guaranteed rights, so take advantage of them. No one can force the tribe to reinstate you, but there are some actions you can take that might cause the tribe to reinstate you.

Gabe Galonda has pointed out that disenrollment makes weak sovereigns because then there are residents of the reservation that are not subject to the laws and authority of the tribe. Keep that in mind as we continue this discussion of new strategies.

Anonymous said...

R&R

How are you understanding "due process," "equal protection," "Indian citizenship," the purpose of the BIA, and federal law as applied to disenrollment and Indian Country?

Reinstatement_Restitution said...

Due process is a set of requirements that includes prior notification of action, the grounds or basis for the action, the right to a hearing, an opportunity to present evidence and to view the opposing evidence, and the right to judicial review. Though these requirements are not stipulated in the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution, they have evolved through judicial decisions to provide for fairness and justice in the enforcement of the law.

Equal protection under the law means equal access to the law and courts, and equal treatment by the law and courts both in procedure and in substance of the law.

Indian Citizenship refers to the right of indigenous peoples to belong and participate in the tribal community to which they are affiliated. Since the Congress and the DOI only conduct government to government relationships with Federally Recognized Tribes, the tribal community in this case refers to a Federally Recognized Tribe.

The purpose of the BIA is to perform the regulatory functions which have been delegated by Congress, to adminstrate services and programs to American Indians, and to manage the government to government relationship between tribes and the U.S.

There is no federal law that applies to disenrollment. There is only Santa Clara Pueblos v. Martinez that establishes the right of tribes to determine their own membership. This now antiquated decision has been expanded in ways that erode the status of individual Indians, and enables tribal leaders to revoke tribal citizenship without just cause or due process, permits tribes to practice apartheid on their reservations (one of the ways that the right to equal protection under the law is violated), and to wantonly abuse civil rights in Indian Country.

Hope that helps you understand the various terms as I employ them.

Native Diamond said...

Silence, though golden, will accomplish nothing...R.R.

Seeds that are not planted can not get watered... N.D.

Silence no more let the thunder of the ancestors bring us together ...POLYSQWALIS SAYS

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