The Honorable Eric Holder
United States Attorney General
Department of Justice Building
950 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
Washington , DC 20530
FAX: (202) 616-9898
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 Indian Country.
Throughout Indian Country, tribal officials have taken actions which have denied and/or stripped thousands of individual Indians of their rights and privileges as tribal members and denied them access to federal benefits and programs in the areas of housing, education, health, voting and public works assistance. Pechanga, Pala, Redding, Snoqualmie, Nooksack, Chukchansi, Enterprise, San Pascual are just a few who have terminated the rights of their people.
In some instances, the illegal actions occurred decades ago, however, there has been a marked increase since Indian Gaming has evolved into a multi-billion dollar business. Tribal leaders justify their right to systematically deny and/or strip basic rights and privileges from their citizens under the guise of tribal sovereignty. The time is right for your department to use it's full force on the corruption that has spread throughout Indian Country.
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 tribal and federal laws, such as the Indian Civil Rights Act of 1968, which were specifically enacted to guarantee and protect the rights of the individual Indian.
Using sovereignty as a club to beat the weak and render them helpless is abhorrent. The federal government can no longer allow the offending tribes and tribal officials to claim that this is a sovereignty issue that rests solely within the domain of tribal courts and tribal law. Few Tribes actually have tribal courts.And, 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, jury and alleged criminal all rolled into one
The United States has a trust responsibility to the thousands of individual Indians whose basic rights have been infringed upon. Unfortunately, the Bureau of Indian Affairs has determined that their trust responsibility extends only to the tribal government and government officials and not to the thousands of individual Indian victims. Therefore, I believe that the DOJ has the legal and moral responsibility
to investigate and prosecute such violations of basic rights.
I urge you to direct the DOJ Civil Rights Division to initiate an investigation into the growing number of human and civil rights violations described above. In addition, I hope that any investigation would not be short-circuited by those who would claim tribal sovereignty as a justification for inaction.
Nor should justice be denied as a result of political wrangling by politicians fighting to protect their tribal “clients” who funnel millions of dollars into their campaign coffers.