Thursday, December 8, 2011

Is the Obama Administration Complicit in the Destruction Of Native Americans?

The Christian Science Monitor has a story on the huge number of Native American's that belong to unrecognized tribes, that make them virtually invisible to the Federal Government:

Sisk-Franco is the spiritual leader and chief of the Winnemem Wintu, a small traditional native American tribe of 123 people, and she is also a well-known Indian doctor, or shaman. But one of Sisk-Franco's spiritual doctoring tools is technically illegal. This March, the US Fish and Wildlife Service revoked her right to possess eagle feathers because her tribe isn't recognized by federal authorities.

For thousands of years, the Win­ne­mem Wintu have practiced their culture among the sentinel pines and glacial waters of the McCloud River watershed, but that history is legally moot because they don't appear on the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) list of recognized tribes.

As the story continues: Unrecognized tribes like the Winnemem – one of several tribes that traditionally spoke the Wintu language – can't access the billions in federal benefits (as of 2005, the total was $4 billion), such as scholarships, Indian Health Services, housing grants, and other funding available to the 565 recognized tribes. Recognized tribes can also open casinos in some states and can more easily use federal laws to protect their religious ceremonies and land


The divide between recognized and unrecognized tribes grew this December when President Obama endorsed the United Nations Declar­ation on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, but excluded unrecognized tribes in the administration's position paper. Critics say it was an effort to reduce financial commitments.

It's also an eye opener as to why, those of us who have been terminated from tribal roles, often against tribal constitutions, are met with silence, or with a "we can't do anything posture by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Fewer Indians mean less problems. It's easier to turn a blind eye to the abuses than to meet them head on.

As by President Obama deliberately leaving out the individual Indian, he is giving is tacit approval to the disenrollments,and to the slow movement of Federal recognition. As as we know many of the tribes that donate to his party, including the Pechanga Band, money talks, human rights...walk


Anonymous said...

Generally speaking the federal government takes the position that one-eight bloods are non-Indian while one -quarter bloods are Indian, when both reside on "trust land." In 1930 persons with less than one-quarter "Indian Blood" were allowed to become white provided they had no other non-white ancestry. Indians as such still coud not possess an African descent, except that those "domiciled on a state reservation could possess up to
one-thirty second part Negro background. Blame Columbus he names us Indians. Maidu was our language meaning Indian in my tribe!True aboriginies one-half blood! LJE

Anonymous said...

The federal government would like to assimilate us all into the main steam white or Mexican population therefore they would not have no more turst responsibility for Native Americans. Less federal dollars would be free for them to use , no more health, education, or housing grant money to be used for the betterment of Native American Indian people. I call it rascism at it best! I been looked down upon as a indigent all my life, which is far from the truth witch only makes me lol. Hoe lets get the ball rolling and keep our status as federally recognized American Indians. Don't let the feds take away our status as the frist people here on the "North American Continent". Constitutional an exercise (walk for justice) I say lol! LJE

Anonymous said...

Yes LJE you are new I met someone recently whom owns many acres on Morongo but does not belong because of Blood degree so I dont understand are not your ancesters INDIAN or why would they be givin allotted land what a crock The indian man who lives as a stranger to his own this is corruption in the most evil form or as PECHANGA DOES YOU HAVE 8 GENERATIONS OF BLOODLINE BUT enrolling members children that have no blood of our ancesters WHILE MY GRANDCHILDREN ARE LOST TO THE WHITE WAY I will fight for thier BIRTHRITE until I can no longer WE MUST UNITE TO FIGHT SAYS POLYSQWAKIS

Anonymous said...


smokeybear said...

Here we go again! Let me get this straight. As stated above, you are a "Native American Tribe" and have been on this "North American Continent" for thousands of years and your land is yours, either by allotment, or put on a reservation, or somehow left alone to exist without intervention from the "Thieving White Man's" quest for your land, and the "Government (Indian Affairs) doesn't recognize you? You can't be "Serious?" Makes you wonder how many "Indian Tribes" sit in the "Shadows" at the hands of these "Criminal Government Entities." What is it, they pick and choose who they think should be recognized? If you're a "Native American Indian," reason states you should be "Recognized!" Your "Indian" an should be treated as such. ..... Why is this?

Erick Rhoan said...

I think the Obama Administration is taking a very cautious route into addressing the needs of the Indian Community. Part of the reason, I believe, is because of the oftentimes confusing and counter-intuitive nature of Indian law and precedents.

However, we've seen some progress: 1) the signing of the Tribal Law & Order Act into law; 2) ordering the Department of Justice to settle the Cobell lawsuit; and 3) lending support to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. All of these things were the right thing to do. Even if there are problems with them, it’s still a good starting point.

With respect to unrecognized tribes, that is a problem that will require much more than Obama's authority as Executive. To redress this problem will require: 1) Congressional overhaul of the Indian Civil Rights Act; and 2) administrative overhaul of the Office of Federal Acknowledgment and the tribal recognition process pursuant to 28 C.F.R. Part 83.

Furthermore, it's important to remember that Indians are Congress' problem, not the President's. The President's function in the Executive Branch is to sign laws into effect and enforce them. It is Congress's job as Legislative Branch to write the laws, and the poorly written laws (and how UN treaties are adapted within our constitutional framework) are what is at issue here, not Presidential action. Article I, Section 8, clause 3 of the US Constitution expressly delegates the regulation of commerce with Congress.

I'm not saying the Administration is wholly blameless. The President can still urge Congress to do something about the gross injustices levied against unrecognized tribes by poorly written laws, which I would like to see more of. Also, I can point to at least two other areas where the President had good intentions, should have followed through with those intentions and then later backed away when the issue either got too complicated or he faced too much pressure from the Republicans: 1) Guantanamo; and 2) Iran. Within the quirky subset of American jurisprudence that is Indian Law, dealing with unrecognized tribes is a deep, dark area of an already murky subject matter.

In short, suggesting that the Obama Administration is somehow complicit with not giving federally unrecognized tribes the equality they deserve is somewhat inaccurate. That being said, I would like to see something said on behalf of the unrecognized.

smokeybear said...

Erick, I would also like to see something said on behalf of the unrecognized, but also something done. But the newest problem to address is the "Casino Indian" and the amount of power that they possess. They don't want anymore "Tribes" to be "Federally Recognized" for this would be an "Infingement" on their "Gaming Interests!"